You’ve done it, you’ve finally done it! The endless list of essays and exams are behind you, no more late night study sessions or eating only noodle bowls for a month. You’ve finally finished Uni and are ready to adult.
Or are you?
Landing your first full-time job is kind of like your first non-school related test, and if you fail, you’re back to eating noodle bowls – indefinitely.
Handling your first full-time income usually goes one of two ways; You either kill it and become one of those rich bastards all of us ordinary folk love to hate, or you end up busking for change on the street. Okay, maybe not quite that extreme, but you get what I mean.
In all honesty, how you get by on your first full-time income can depend on what your salary is.
If you’re entry-level wage is $60,000, you still live at home with your parents and are just scraping by, you’re definitely doing something wrong.
If, however, you’re trudging along the minimum wage line, need to pay rent, bills and feed and clothe yourself, but are somehow managing. Halle-f*cking-lujah – you’re killing it!
If you’re entry-level wage is less than mediocre and aren’t the best budgeter, you can still manage. Here’s how.
Remember that wants and needs are two very different things
Your mum used to drum this into your head for a reason. It’s good advice, and you should live by it.
You need food for dinner, you want KFC. A jar of pasta sauce and a bag of spaghetti will set you back about $3 and last at least two nights, whereas a KFC meal cost you back about $12 and only last one night.
You may want to eat out, but you should eat in. It’s cheaper and eliminates the temptation of adding a pricey drink and dessert onto your daily meal, because you know you will.
That’s not to say you should never go out, just don’t do it every night.
Make the most of pre-drinks
If you need a night out on the town but don’t want to blow your whole wage, hit your local liquor shop and scour the bargain aisle for some cheap booze. You can start your night with a bang and skip the line at the bar later.
Don’t get too sloppy though, no one likes a messy drunk that reeks of cheap goon.
Take the bus
Petrol prices have dropped a lot over the last couple of months, but its still pricey, not to mention the added expense of tolls if you need to use any major toll ways.
The bus may be filled with some interesting characters, but it’s cheaper and you can read a book or watch a movie instead of glaring at the bumper of the car in front of you.
You might even make a new friend!
Budget, budget, budget
Here’s my number one personal tip.
Let’s say that on payday, after tax, you walk away with $600 for the week.
You need $150 for rent, $100 for food, $20 for the bus and $50 for bills. That’s $320 you shouldn’t get attached to, which leaves you with $280.
Of that, I would keep $80 to blow on junk food, or a dinner with the girls and the other $200 would go straight into a savings account.
Obviously, there will be weeks when your expenses are higher, but for the most part, you should be able to put approximately a third of your income into a savings account.
FYI, op-shops, discount variety stores, and of course, Kmart should be your go-to pit stops whenever you do need some new stuff!
So, as you can see, a crappy entry-level wage doesn’t mean you can’t survive, it just means you need to be thriftier.