I wasn’t financially educated during my teen years or early 20s; however, my parents did mention that saving money was important. And this stuck with me early on for some reason.
I started practicing how to save money in my teenage years. Whether I was making $15 a day helping my mother clean apartments in the city or $7.25 an hour working at Mcdonald’s, I always made it a habit to save at least $5 from my pay. My approach was always the same: save some, spend some. I always liked having some money, and hence with time I became a natural saver.
Fast forward to when I graduated college, my initial plan was to move out on my own; however, my first job out of college only paid me $28k per year. I knew this salary wouldn’t be enough to cover the lifestyle I wanted so I decided to move back in with my parents. By the end of my first year back, I was surprised by how much I had been able to save while having a low paying job. So although it wasn’t always easy living with my parents as an adult (strict, loving Ecuadorian parents 😏), I realized it was the best financial choice for me for the time being. Little did I know that my first job was a blessing in disguise because it helped me see it’s not always about how much you make, but what you do with what you make. After my first year back, I went into teaching. A few years later, I was able to save $72,000 by 27 on a teacher’s salary.
For context, at the time, I was not married, had no kids, lived in a high cost of living area, and made less than 6 figures. I also didn’t know much about financial literacy during this time, but, by making certain choices in my life, I was able to still save $72k by 27 on a teacher’s salary.
Here are 5 helpful tips on how I effectively saved while making less than 6 figures:
1. I set a money goal.
At 22, I told myself, my money goal was to save enough to buy myself a home once I moved out of my parents house.
Tip: Ask yourself why you want to save. This will not only help motivate you, but it will also help you create a money savings goal.
2. Regardless of my spending habits, I always made sure I paid myself first.
Paying yourself first means every time it’s payday, you set money aside in your savings account.
Tip: Ideally, you want to set automatic savings transactions every time you get paid. This is how you make sure you always save a portion of your pay without thinking about it. Additionally, even though back then I didn’t know about the importance of investing, I would encourage people to save money and also invest as a form of paying yourself.
3. I decreased my spending.
Although I was a shopaholic who loved to go out and travel, I managed to decrease my spending on the three biggest expenses most people have: housing, food, and transportation.
I saved on housing by moving back with my parents. (This is a privilege I’m forever grateful for.) I saved on food by having home-cooked meals and packing leftovers for lunch. And I saved on transportation by carpooling or using public transportation to head to work. Decreasing my spending in these 3 categories alone, gave me the ability to still be able to save money.
Tip: Go through your monthly expenses and see where you can significantly reduce your expenses. Maybe canceling a few subscriptions, getting a roommate, moving back in with a parent, meal prepping, or taking public transportation, etc. are options for you. In return this extra money can go towards your savings and/or investments.
4. I prioritized what I wanted to spend money on.
Although I loved to shop, go out, and travel, I made sure I never overspent. I would usually rotate these categories monthly. I knew I needed to stay away from debt. I knew that if I didn’t pay my credit card balance on time, I’d have to pay interest. And as someone who liked saving, I also didn’t like giving away free money for no good reason. Therefore, I made sure that I prioritized what I wanted to spend money on every month so I would not go into debt.
Tip: Look into budgeting (I didn’t know about it back then), but it’s a very useful tool to help you create a better spending plan.
5. I increased my income.
I switched careers and pursued teaching, as that paid me somewhat more than my first job out of college. Each year my salary increased, and so did my savings rate. However, as time went by, I wanted to reach my money goal faster so I started to side hustle. At around age 25, I started tutoring and selling my clothes online to make extra cash to reach my money goal quicker.
Fast forward, after implementing this for about 5 years, at age 27, I had saved $72,000. Saving money is not always easy for various reasons. The most important tip is to start! Start by saving with a number you are comfortable with now; in time it’ll add up. The more you see your savings rate increase and the closer you get to your money goal(s), the more you’ll start saving.
If you feel that you need 1:1 support to help you get your finances right, schedule your free 15 minute discovery call so that we can discuss your situation and financial goals to find out how I can help you can help you feel more at ease with your money.