I started off my four (er…five) years of undergrad with a savings account. I worked as a swim coach and a private swim instructor for the summer leading up to my freshmen year. I was honestly rolling in it. Danville, California is the perfect place to start a private swimming business. Tons of money, tons of backyard pools, and tons of parents with no desire to hang out with their children. I charged $30 for 30 minutes and would drive around town teaching lessons. That’s $60/hour with minimal gas expense. These gigs led to lifeguarding private parties (cuz cool parents hired lifeguards for their pool parties so they could drink copious amounts of alcohol while their children swam), and then babysitting. So I basically never paid for meals that summer either.
I have come to the conclusion this is the best money I will ever make in my entire life.
Should have never gone to college.
But I did. And while in college I obtained my first credit card. A whopping $300 credit limit. I decided the most effective way to use my credit card was to rack up charges (which wasn’t hard to do with a $300 limit…literally that was one trip to the grocery store. I have been known to pay off my credit card on my phone, while in line, just to have funds for the upcoming purchase…) and then use my savings to pay off my credit card. No one every told that wasn’t good strategy. My dad was highly unamused when I told him I had to shut down my savings account cuz the bank was charging me to keep it running. I was spending money to save money. Low fund alerts were goin’ off on the daily.
The very first thing I did the day after graduation was open up a savings account. I found a sweet, little fee-free online banking system called Simple. Simple.com is an awesome, futuristic bank system that is honestly fun. You make goals and put pictures up of the things you are trying to save for (like a puppy…or a house…or hair extensions…heheh…). The staff at Simple is pretty rad too. Whenever I talk to them, they are super personal, like “Hey Melissa! It’s Emily again. Long time no talk! How’s the job hunt in Madison? We are cheering for you!” I love my Simple bankers.
I currently transfer over 10% of every paycheck I get. Which pretty much amounts to single digit transfers but eh…gotta start somewhere right? And I’ve currently earned $0.02 in interest since starting with Simple. And I am damn proud of those two cents.
But the best part about Simple is that the funds are literally unattainable for me. You get a special, white Visa that connects to your Simple account, and you can use it like a debit card. However, this card is still in the shrink wrap, inside the sealed envelope it was mailed in, stored inside a file folder, inside a storage container, under my bed, collecting dust. It’s as good as lost. And for some reason, I haven’t been smart enough to figure out how to use the app to transfer money to my other bank account. Which is just fine with me…
Saving money is particularly tough when you work in retail. A huge component of my job is educating people about the product we sell. A guest will be trying on a pair of pants, and I’ll swoop in to tell them about the awesome pants. “They have a drawstring waist band that can be worn high or low waisted – all you have to do is rethread the drawstring like so! And they are straight leg, not leggings, so you can easily wear them to yoga and out to dinner without being judged for not wearing pants! And they are four-way stretch and have this way of elevating your butt cheeks so you don’t even need to go to the gym to look like you do!”
And that is the point in the conversation where I tell them to take off the pants because I’ve just convinced myself that I need them more than they do, and they are no longer available.
I am my own best customer.
There is a magic button in the computer system at my job that you can click to find out how much you have personally spent over the course of employment. I have never found this button though. I imagine it is really small and hard to find for a reason. If you click it, it probably asks you multiple times if you really want to see what is beyond that button. “If you value your happiness, you will not click this button. If you do not want to spiral into deep depression and shame, do not click this button. It’s not worth it. Live in stretchy-pants-bliss a few days longer…”
If you are looking for advice on how to save money as a recent college graduate, don’t call me.
But if you need help justifying spending money you don’t have, I’m your gal. I just convinced myself an hour ago that a manicure was the most important thing I could spend my money on today. More important than toilet paper or bagels – that’s for sure.