Any tips for a teenager who’s just moved into her own place and is penny-pinching?

I will be 19 next month and will be moving into my very first apartment next week. Now that I’m responsible for my own bills and resources, what are your best frugality tips for an early learner? I currently buy the majority of my food from Aldi, meal prep and cook fresh, and fast anywhere from 16 to 24 hours not only for my health, but to cut costs on food. My clothes are all secondhand and donated back to reduce waste and save money. I plan to use minimal electricity and water once I move—enough water to shower after work and wash my dishes and nothing more. These are basic things to cut some costs, but what should I know from you, the frugal pros? Half my monthly check goes to rent and utilities. I need to save every penny I can. Anything helps.

I recommend fully understanding the cost of your utilities. Understand the flat service cost for electricity, water, sewer. Then understand watts, kilowatts and know how much it costs you to run an appliance or whatever. Understand how you are being charged for water. I guarantee you are not being charged by the gallon. So you are probably not saving anything by bringing water home.
I get 10 units of water a month whether I use them or not. That's 7500 gallons. I think the most I have used is 4 units or 3000 gallons. If I do use 7500 gallons then I think it's only $2 for each additional 750 gallons. It makes no sense for me to try to save any water at all.
Track your bills and pay on time! A single late fee can wipe out a month's worth of quick showers or turning the lights off.
My water bill has two parts: a flat rate based on the type of structure, and then a variable bill based on water usage, rounded up to the nearest 1,000 gallons.
I wouldn't go so far as to guarantee she's not being charged for water by usage. Most of my state is charged by usage. Sewer bills are based off water bills, so reducing water usage reduces both the water and sewer bills.
Get a plunger before you need one.
As someone young who's been doing this for a minute and is slowly getting better this should be a no brainer but things do happen. Always pay your bills on time! My god the few times I fucked up being reckless or thinking oh I get paid the day after it's due and late it'll be fine... Always have the amount of money in your account for all of your bills, serious no brainer but again stuff happens and you don't want to find yourself in the position of getting screwed heavily by late fees.
Don’t forget to have fun. Your existence doesn’t have to be miserable
You don't everything need it right now. Don't rush out to furnish everything today.
Every month near the end of the month, you will see abandoned furniture near the trash. steer clear of things with cushions/fabric. Clean everything with strong cleaning products. Enjoy your free furniture.
Every spring millions of college students abandon entire apartments worth of stuff. Most is crap, some is not crap. Find your nearest university/college. Determine when finals are. Go shopping in their discarded stuff. This can help fill out any remaining major gaps. Best finds will be cheap quality kitchen goods, lamps, and home goods.
Look for a free or no buy forums that are local.
For almost everything, you don't really need it right away.
I moved into my first house almost 3 years ago. Seriously half my house is STILL furnished from a college dumpster at move-out time. The rest of it is from relatives who were giving it away. Only thing I bought new was my bed and a futon. It’s amazing how many things you can get for free or less than $20 if you keep your eyes out.
Seriously, once relatives and their friends hear you are living on your own, you'll start getting everyones furniture, appliances, dishware, etc when they upgrade. A friend of mine in college got a 3 year old fridge and oven because his girlfriend's aunt updated her kitchen.
Hey! I'm 17 so I can't offer much insight. But my tips are - do not pay for cable, there isn't much on tv anyways. Get Netflix or something. Make sure your phone plan is very basic, you do not need unlimited everything. That's a marketing tactic used to get you to buy the more expensive plans. My last tip is take advantage of coupons and deals. Grocery stores typically have an app or send coupons through the mail. By the way, I'm not sure why some people are being rude in the comments, but just really make sure that you understand what your monthly expenses are and go from there. Best of luck.
my dad's tv bill is more than my internet+netflix bill.
find a friend, you pay for netflix, and they pay for hulu or such, and you swap passwords.
I actually wouldn't pay much attention to coupons. Not only is it time consuming, but generic versions of things generally don't have coupons and they are still usually cheaper than the brand name of something even if the brand name had a coupon.
With a digital antenna, you can pick up a lot of the regular networks.
Check out your local library.
Having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card!
Get a library card! You can read free ebooks and listen to free audiobooks with Libby.
You can watch free movies and tv shows with HOOPLA.
Be careful fasting to save on food costs—your body is still developing things like muscle mass and bone density until your early 20s, you want to be active and eat a good varied diet.
Pay attention to the cost per unit if things like toilet paper, soap etc to get your moneys worth. If one item is $1 for 12oz, but another is $1.50 for 24oz, the more expensive item is a better value.
Don’t overly stress about things like water for drinking—hot water may impact your gas/electric but if you are using a normal amount of water it should not be too bad for one person. Electricity is a higher cost typically, use LED light bulbs if you need to replace any, turn lights off when you’re not around. The biggest utility cost tends to be heating and cooling, so dress for the weather and try to keep it a reasonable temperature. Call your utility to ask about rates and budget plans if there is anything they can help, even giving you an estimate on your average bill from the last tenant.
Definitely look into financial aid for school, but only use what you truly need and don’t use aid money for things like vacations shopping etc. only school expenses like books and fees.
Do you have enough saved already for your security deposits? Write out a budget of all the things that you will need money for: transportation, food, cleaning supplies, furniture/home supplies, gifts, hygiene products, medications, etc. See how much it will cost you and what you need to cut out if it’s not affordable.
Try to save some out of every check to build up an emergency fund in case you’re ever sick and miss some of your pay, or if something unexpected comes up. Make sure to save for this separate from any savings for school, travel, etc. because you might have to use it.
LED bulbs can be found for extremely cheap from time to time at places like Sam's club or Costco. Like 2 or 3 bucks for a 6 or 8 pack. You might even be able to get some for free from your power company. You should replace all the bulbs in your house/apartment, as they cost pennies a month to operate as opposed to dollars a month for incandescents.
This. I've been huge my whole life. I'm basically built like the sasquatch thats on the beefstick display at the gas station. I'm 6'4" and 250 pounds is a good weight for me. When I was OP's age, I lived with a crazy ex girlfriend who because she wanted to lose weight, meant I was also on a diet with her. She'd literally check my bank account to make sure I wasn't eating when she didn't know about it, so I couldn't even go grab some Wendys or something for some protein and fat.
I worked at a lumber yard. All day I was doing very physical labor and eating around 1500 calories. After 9 months I was down to almost 150 and looked horrible. It took me years to recover from that. DO NOT do that to yourself.
Pay attention to the weather. Freezing yourself to save a few bucks will REALLY backfire if your pipes freeze.
If you run Into issues with food,look for local food banks in a pinch.
Budget your money. Tell it where it's going to go, don't just track where it's been. A good free app is Dave Ramsey's Every Dollar.
Look for free entertainment. Check out books and movies from your local library. Geocaching is free, just need your phone. Sign up for your local grocery store rewards programs (not the credit cards!) They often have coupons and reward you for your purchases. Safeway and Kroger even offer a free item once a week.
Check the bulk section of stores too! It often will save you a little bit. Just learn how to read price tags, compare price per ounce or pound.
Off brand is your friend! If it's eye level or higher, it's probably more expensive than what's by your feet.
I was going to say Learn to do without but you're doing a little too well in that department. Don't forget to have fun, treat yourself a little bit once in a while. And good luck!
Same for if its really cold and you should drip your taps if you have crappy insulation. $10 in extra water is nothing compared to a $250 plumbers bill.
ALSO. KNOW WHERE YOUR WATER SHUTOFF IS!!!!!! You don't want to be looking for it when your apartment is flooding.
I'm a little surprised people aren't concerned about you fasting for so long. Just please be careful you don't do it so often. You could look into intermittent fasting. It doesn't matter how much money you save if you aren't healthy enough to reap the benefits.
With that downer out of the way, I always look for sales on produce and meats. Meats are expensive, so I am basically flexitarian because I don't want to pay for a lot of meat. You can freeze pretty much any meat and if you are willing to sacrifice some texture the same goes for veggies. Make sure you enjoy eating whatever meal you cook. It's sad to see food go bad because you didn't want to eat it. Smoothies are a great, cheap, on the go snack, especially when it comes from produce that was on sale or about to go bad.
Utilize your library. Audiobooks, ebooks, DVDs, free classes or book clubs. It's an amazing resource. For the most part cable isn't worth it. I spend most of my time on YouTube, so those are what I subscribe to. We also have a neat thing in our family where each family unit gets one subscription service. One has Disney+, another has Netflix, I provide YouTube Red/Music. We all share each other's passwords so that we can all reap the benefits and it saves us a lot of money.
You don't need to use anywhere near the amount of laundry detergent it says on the bottle. I use about a third of the recommended amount and it comes out just as clean for my family.
For free entertainment, if you get a library card, most get you access to Kanopy which is totally free and gives you access to free movies online. It is awesome. Also if you have roku or a roku tv there are a bunch of different free apps with all kinds of TV channels on them. Not live TV but themed channels. We watch Tubi and Pluto all the time.
I'm sure this is too much info about what to watch for free, but if you go to
people tend to wash their clothes too often. the average top and pants can be worn 3-4 times before having to wash them.
Hanging your clothes to dry will also save electricity and extend their life.
This. Also, your denim will last much longer if you don't wash it often. 10ish wears, unless you get something on them or sweat a lot or something.
I literally go a year or more without washing my jeans. Granted, I only wear them 8 hours a day to work, and I don't sweat in them at all. They don't smell. I only recently washed them because I had a bit of a uh...hose malfunction when going to the bathroom.
Not sure how much your warehouse job pays but when I was a college student, I worked as a server in a seafood restaurant. I would work 5-7 hours and make $200 on average, which can be like $25+/hr. It’s easy money if you maybe want something part time and want to help you boost your income
Waitresses at fast casual restaurants make bank. Eg, here in Cincinnati we have Chili Parlors. The food is fairly pricey, $7-$10 a person, its made extremely quick, so there is high customer turnover. My cousin worked at one in college and would regularly go home with $400 after a shift.
And the added benefit of free food!
Get foods that you can buy a lot of and the last. When you get poor these things help. Rice and ground beef for me. Plus canned beans, normal kidney beans are like .79 a can. It’s definitely food
Also, buying dried beans is better than canned. Much more bang for your buck, just soak them before you cook them up. :)
A pound of ground beef, a pound of mushrooms, 2 cans chili beans, 2 cans black beans, a large can of crushed tomatoes, and a packet of chili seasoning. Less than $10 and a solid week of good dinner.
I was about to write the same thing.
Find low cost leisure activities. You will burn out if all you do is work. Leisure is extremely important for mental health. So try and find a frugal hobby maybe something like a walking group or running club etc. Yes, there will be a cost but it will have financial and non-financial benefits.
If you live somewhere, where it gets cold in the winter get thermals, hot water bottle, it'll help you save on heating.
Consider what investments might help your future earning potential.
Use your library for entertainment. You can download ebooks, audiobooks, and videos. Some loan out museum passes. And for fixing stuff around the house, there are the how-to manuals ... but also some libraries loan out tools.
And the biggest tip? Pay yourself first. Whatever amount you feel you should be saving, that's the first "bill" pay every week. It is MUCH more effective than trying to save "what's left over" after expenses. Just make it a bill and pay it.
Take your finances seriously, and BE VERY WARY who you accept advice from, especially the gurus. They tend to have a one-track mind and there are often multiple ways to achieve the same financial goals.
Never skimp of toilet paper
Get a bidet.
I can't link to amazon, but I have a Luxe Bidet 185. Its $37. It comes with everything you need to hook it up.
You have NO idea how awesome it is. Your butt is squeeky clean. Hit your ass with the bidet for 20 seconds, dab with a little TP and do a spot check to make sure you got it all, and you're good to go. No more using half a roll after taco and beer night. We went from a case of TP a week to about a 6 pack a month.
There is absolutely nothing that will have more effect than having a roommate (s). Do the math in your area. It might make sense to rent a cheaper 3 bedroom or even an entire 5 bedroom 1950s house and find roommates to share with.
The reason I want to be very frugal is solely because I want to live by myself. The reason I started working at Amazon full time was because of the pay and I knew I’d be able to afford to live on my own—if I penny pinch.
beans and rice. both cheap in bulk. if not Aldi, is there some sort of "Asian" grocery store near you?
i bought a phone and use Mint Wireless. pay up front for a full year and its only like $20/month for 8GB of data.
HVAC is my biggest expense for electric bill. we have ours set at 66 in winter and 77 in summer (i can't take the heat)
i always check the "rotten" pile at the grocery store. most of our bread comes from there. i even restrict myself to clearance beer.
Clearance beer is a thing? Where do you live? Heaven?
Good lord, yes. Check out the ethnic groceries for super cheap produce and bulk deals on rice and other things. A 2lb bag of rice at kroger is $4. A 50lb sack of rice from an ethnic grocery is $13.
I second MintMobile. People are always so surprised when I tell them I paid for a whole year of phone service up front
Always check for mark down meats. They are usually "expiring" that day or the day after. But if you freeze them, who the hell cares? Often, you can even ask the butcher to cut them into smaller pieces or grind them for you. A $1.50 a pound chuck steak just became 2 pounds of hamburger for half the price of the going rate for hamburger and all you had to do was ask.
On top of the other things recommended here, take care of your mental and emotional health. It might seem useful to let these things take the back seat, especially when there's work to be done and money to be saved, but in the long run, taking care of your mental and emotional health is really important. If you don't, you can have a breakdown that could make it hard to work or go to school. So, find ways to take care of your mental and emotional health, as a preventive measure. Also, make sure that you are in healthy relationships and connections with people This might seem non-related, but people who are toxic and manipulative and up costing the people they harm time, money, energy, and health every year. Good luck and I'm glad for you.
Look for things that you can flip. Trash day in a decent neighborhood can bring all sorts of goodies. It's relaxing to spend an hour painting them and you'd be surprised at what they can resell for. I used to see lamps and all sorts of stuff set out. There's a sub for dumpster diving also if you want to go hunt for video games, pet supplies, etc to resell.
Sign up for freebie food items but don't let yourself get tempted to buy other stuff. Do the $50 - $75 test drives, but don't buy a new car. Go to free entertainment events. I can't stress that enough. Free music in the park, movies... Usually there's a day each month where museums are free. It adds up.
Lastly, freeze food that is about to go bad for smoothies and soups. Try to buy what you need and even though it seems inconvenient you can save a lot by visiting multiple stores.
Yes! Freeze anything that's about to go bad to eliminate your food waste. I love being able to pull a small amount of whatever ingredient out of my freezer when I need it.
Expect the unexpected. They're really no such thing as a month where you only pay for the expected expenses. Something will break, a renewal fee is due, etc. and that's super frustrating if it means you're "over budget" month after month. Instead, plan for it. Put aside a little money for expected mini emergencies, you'll be proud of yourself later when the money is there when you need it.
The Dollar Store and coupons were a life saver for me, but a few things: 1) know what's worth your dollar at the Dollar Store. There's some items that aren't worth it, and you're better off paying the extra dollar for something else. It took me some trial and error, but there's a lot of great links/reviews online that help too. 2) Just because you have a coupon doesn't make it a better deal. Know what the typical price of items run, and what a true sale is. If that coupon gets an item to that sale price (or beyond), then use it. When it comes down to it, I always try to get the best price per lb. or per unit. Best of luck!
You didn’t mention anything about transportation, but for most people that is the second largest expense you’re going to have. If you learn how to repair your own car and buy something cheap for cash, and repair it yourself, you’ll shave more out of your budget than you can anywhere else. It’s been the single biggest key to my financial freedom. People waste an absolute fortune on cars and full coverage insurance.
If you have an upcoming birthday or anything, or anyone might toss you some amazon gift cards or whatever to help get you started, I highly recommend an Instant Pot. Its extremely versatile.
Not only can you use it as a crock pot to make soups, stews and chilis, but you can sautee and pressure cook in it as well. This allows you a LOT of versatility when it comes to cheap meals.
Eg, last night my wife made meatloaf and mashed potatoes in ours. 4 potatoes in the bottom, made a bowl out of aluminum foil and put the meatloaf in that. 25 minutes on pressure cook, and boom, ready to smash potatoes (just add a little butter and milk) and cooked meatloaf, and that was enough to feed a family of 4 with left overs. Obviously, you can make smaller meals, or use it to make lunches and stuff as well. You are also saving electricity using it since its 110v and 1500 watts, vs heating up a whole oven at 240v and 3000+ watts, and since it pressure cooks, you can cook most things a lot faster than in an oven, so it runs for less time.
If you have the space, get a washing machine. When I was your age and living with an ex-girlfriend, I kept trying to convince her we should get a washing machine and she wouldn't hear of it. $5 to wash and dry a load of laundry at the laundromat adds up fast. I see used washing machines on facebook marketplace for $25-$50 all the time. If your apartment doesn't have hook-ups for them, you can easily connect a washing machine to your kitchen sink with a little ingenuity -
You can hang dry most of your clothes with no problems. I have a dryer and I still hang dry my jeans because I hate how much they shrink in the dyer, then it takes a day or two of wearing them to get them comfortable again.
If you have window unit air conditioning and are just cooling a room or two, turn them off or way down when you aren't home. If your apartment has central air, don't mess with the temps. I've found it takes more electricity to heat up or cool down your whole place than you'll save by turning the temp down, unless you are going to be gone longer than 8-10 hours. Remember, its not just the air you are heating or cooling, but EVERYTHING, the furniture, walls, everything.
Save juice, milk and other jugs and fill them with water and use them to take up space in your refrigerator. Your fridge will run less if it has more thermal mass in it to keep it at temperature. Just air heats up quick, but a fridge full of jugs of water at 34* heats up a lot less quickly. It'll also mean your fridge won't run as much to get back to temp when you open the door and let all the cold air spill out.
Track all of your bills on a spreadsheet. Make a habit of opening it every day and checking due dates, whats paid, etc. I've been using the same spreadsheet for almost 10 years. I track my bills, the average amount of the bill, the day its due, when I paid it, etc. I then break each month down by paycheck, so I know what I have to pay with each paycheck. Open a separate checking account, you can get free checking accounts from most banks, I have 3 different free checking accounts from US Bank. Sign up for direct deposit with your work. Once you know how much your bills are, deposit the amount you need every paycheck plus a few bucks into an account you ONLY use for bills. This keeps you from accidentally spending more than you should and not being able to pay your bills. I use a 3rd account just for my student loans because I had Sallie Mae make a cash grab for 3 months worth of payments one time due to an error on their side and it took months to get that money back, meanwhile I couldn't pay my bills.
Sign up for a savings account. Every paycheck, put a little in there. Even if its just $5. Forget it exists. Thats your emergency fund. I put $250 a paycheck in mine, so $500 a month, and I use it for abnormal expenditures, like new tires for my car, appliances, etc.
Start building a tool kit. Just keep an eye out at yard sales, flea markets, etc. If you can pick up a nice set of wrenches, or screwdrivers or whatever for a few bucks, do it and slowly build a nice toolbox. It will come in handy at some point, trust me. I've been over at friends houses and they have something break and I offer to fix it, and then they only have the jankiest saddest tools that are completely unusable.
Find out what day your local goodwill has half off day. Mine has it on wednesdays. I'm 34 and make six figures, and I still buy shit at goodwill. I have tons of nice dress shirts, name brands and even Italian designer brands, that I've gotten for $1.50. Same with polos, slacks, belts, etc. Appliances too. I got an awesome commercial sweeper for $5 that just needed a new belt I ordered on amazon.
I know I already posted but I have one more thing to say: get off of living paycheck to paycheck as soon as possible. Save enough to the point where you have a paychecks worth in your bank account details at all times, and then budget one month out. So essentially, you're living on last months Income. Then if something happens, you lose your job, you're okay for a month. Check out Dave Ramsey for help on that front. I also recommend the You Need A Budget principles, even if you don't use their budgeting program, since it's subscription based now.
Do you have a car? You can easily save $500 a month (on loan/lease payments, insurance, fuel, repairs, maintenance, and parking) if you can live without a car.
500 a month? My car costs a little over $200 a month including purchase price, insurance, fuel, and repairs. I rarely pay for parking.
Low flow showerheads for your shower, and LED light bulbs pay for themselves in less than a year, and you can always keep the old ones and re-install when you decide to move out. A showerhead will have its flow rate printed on it. You want one that is as low as possible. 2.5 gallons per minute is the "standard" low flow, but you can get ones that use 1.5 that still feel totally fine.
If the house is really drafty, things like weather stripping can pay for themselves in about a year too. A laundry rack for outdoors that you end up using instead of drying clothes in a dryer will pay for itself in under a year as well, depending on if you have a good place to put it.
Dollar store, not target and not walmart, for basic household needs.
Stop eating out now. Cook all your meals.
Not always. I've found Dollar general is on average more expensive than walmart. Its convenient because its close by, but if I need 5+ things, its a walmart trip.
Shop at Aldi if there is one near you.
Keep a running tally of your savings in the bank and any bills due before next pay. Calculate savings minus bills. I do this in a spreadsheet that I refer to often. Start a savings account and deposit into it a small fixed amount every payday - don't withdraw from this account until you have enough to cover 3 months of regular expenses. A credit card is useful, but pay it off as soon as you use it - if it starts to get out of hand, leave it at home when you go out. Cook your own meals & prepare your own work lunches/snacks. Make sure you set a small allowance for entertainment/fun. Once you have a feel for where/how you spend - set yourself limits so that you stay on top of your finances.
One thing I think always threw my frugal budget in my 20s was not allowing for letting go once in a while. Seriously these are good years, don’t deny yourself some fun. When you turn 21 figure out a bar close by your friends can meet you at and put aside $20 or $30 a month to have a happy hour drink or two or go to the movies . Keeping yourself connected to friends is essential.
Also get in to thrifting. Your local Goodwill or SVDP has so many great outfits for 1/10 the price of retail. You can take $50 into one of those places and come out with BAGS of stuff. It’s important to feel like you’re not denying yourself. It’s also better for the environment and goes to a good cause.
Quick tip for thrifting clothes and furniture: get a spray can of bed-bug spray and give the stuff a once-over and a wash before wearing it, bed bugs are a hell of a cost and you don’t need that.
Cook cook cook. Sounds like you know this already but there’s tons of other stuff besides chicken and veggies. You can make pizza dough from scratch with a few cents of dry yeast, sugar and flower.
Finally check out an app called Acorns, it does round ups on your transactions and socks it into an investment portfolio. It’s nice to log in occasionally and be surprised, you’ll hit your first $1000 before you know it. I stopped paying attention to it for a long time and opened it up one day to find $4200! You can withdraw any time but takes about 5 days (so you don’t end up taking out money on a whim.)
If you have the area to do it, get a grill. There is so much fun stuff you can cook on a grill. Not just grilling, but put a baking stone down and now you have a pizza oven. You can cook pizzas, calzones, and other fun stuff. You can also smoke meats on a charcoal grill. Nothing says summer like having friends over and smoking a nice pork butt. Not only is it like $1.25 a pound, but you get tons of delicious pulled pork off it. When you get sick of pulled pork sandwiches, fry some up to make carnitas.
One of the best ways to make your food stretch is make what you can and use everything. Buy ingredients, not meals.
I make my own bread and veggie stock. One 5lb bag of flour can last me for months. Veggie stock is a great base for soups and pasta sauces and can easily be made using the ends/peels of veggies you use for other meals.
And, I know it sounds preachy/silly, but going "zero waste" and primarily vegan/vegetarian has saved me a ton of money. Shifting your mindset from "buying cheap" to "reducing waste" can put more in your pocket.
Also, see if there is a local "no buy" Facebook group in your area.
If you're located in the US, Dollar Tree is a blessing. Shop there before anywhere. Food, brooms, cookware, utensils, spices, cleaners, etc. I outfitted my entire first apartment for <$30. Best of luck in your journey!
50% income to rent and utilities is a lot. I would search for something that puts you under 30% of your income for housing and utilities. 30% is still high, but 50% is insane.
Statistically, this actually about average in the US. If they're young they're likely not making a lot of money.
What do you drink if you only use water to shower and wash dishes? Also, what are you doing to further your education/skills so you don't have to have a crappy warehouse job forever?
I probably should have included drinking water in there, too. However, because I work so much, the cost of water used for drinking at home should not be too much. I do not buy bottled water. If I want to be extreme, I can fill up both my water bottles at work and bring them home. That’s enough drinking water to sustain me until the next morning.
Also, I’m not going to have a crappy warehouse job forever. I want to do my basics at community college and work up from there as I become better at saving. I can try financial aid and see what I get from it. My mom had put some money away for my education as well.
You're going to feel the urge to nest. Seasonal curtains with matching duvet covers, toilet paper coozies, insane unitasking kitchen gadgets... Don't buy any of that shit new. Good Will or nothing, preferably nothing.
Buy the goofiest shower curtain you can find. Trust me, its worth it. If waking up every morning and seeing a bunch of rubber ducks in your bathroom, or a periodic table, or whatever you want makes you happy, its worth it to start the day out with a smile.
Learn to cook. If you already cook, learn to meal prep multiple meals at once, which saves time as well as money. If that seems boring, freeze a few of your prepped meals and after a couple weeks you'll have enough variety in the freezer to rotate out something new regularly. Consider meat an occasional treat instead of an everyday food. Buy non perishables or frozen foods in bulk while on sale. Only buy enough fresh stuff that it won't go bad.
Also, it impresses the ladies.
Learn to cook an easy to make, but very "impressive" looking dish from scratch. Eg, I had my wife over on our 3rd date to my house and made Shrimp Alfredo. Its stupid easy, its just cheese and heavy cream over noodles. Get some nice crusty bread and toast it up.
Just don't go too carb heavy if there will be....activities....later.
Foodbanks usually have volunteer schemes where you can help pack/cook food for the needy and they'll give you a bag of food to take home. 1 hour of volunteering could be your food sorted for a week, also a rewarding experience.
Not only that, but a lot of churches and foodbanks don't even check if you are needy. There is one near me that people literally line up for half a mile on the side of the road in their cars waiting to load up on Thursday evenings. They have 4 or 5 refrigerated tractor trailers full of food they give out weekly.
Furniture from craigslist or whatever other thrift site, but do be careful of insects like bedbugs or termites. Research how to kill the bugs in an item before you bring it into your apartment or make sure it's a trust able source, like a work acquaintance getting rid of furniture.
Remember you need to splurge sometimes(book, game, food) for your emotional health, don't be so frugal that you're miserable.
IDK about your laundry situation, but if you have to pay to use a dryer, consider getting a folding drying rack if indoor temps allow it to be do-able
For eating dishes, I had/have a bowl I always use, rarely wash it. I just scrape it clean when i'm done. If its dry, you only have to worry about flavor contamination. Sometimes i'd have separate bowls for sweet and savory dishes. This tip isn't for everyone, but it save water & time on the dish I use the most.
For clothes, run them through a dryer on the hottest setting.
For furniture, get a plastic painters tarp, they sell huge 40'x40' tarps for a few dollars at Lowes. Put the furniture inside. Place a block of dry ice on the furniture. Form a bag around the furniture with the tarp and carefully without creating any holes, squeeze out as much air as possible. Then rubber band it closed so its air tight. You may have to burp it a few times to keep it from popping as the dry ice melts. Let it sit a few days. The CO2 will kill everything. They might be little bastards, but they still gotta breath oxygen.
This is a good way to risk getting sick, not to mention kind of gross. A little water here and there to wash a dish isn't going to noticeably impact your water bill and it takes 20 seconds.
Like you said, it's not for everyone. I don't think it's logical but if it works for you, great.
Free furniture from Craigslist.
Brew your own coffee/tea and make your own lunches. You will soon realize how much money this saves.
Be creative with things you need. When I was your age, I used a plastic food container (kool whip, to show my age!) that I poked holes into for a pasta strainer for a few years until I spent money on a real one.
When I did buy things, i tried to do my research and buy products that would last. The cheapest colander at WalMart will only last a year or two, whereas a better one will last 10 or more years.
Don't pay for TV.
Use your library and it's resources for your entertainment budget. At my library, I can borrow movies for free, borrow passes from local museums for free, and even borrow art for my walls!
Realize that "cheap food" such as ramen and macaroni and cheese (and I'm talking about the crappy stuff that's $.25/ package) is not nutritionally dense nor is it filling. You would be better off with $.25 worth of rice and beans.
Good Luck!
I would not recommend putting hot pasta and water through a soft plastic container, or any plastic really. You'll pay for it in cancer later.
A lot of the advice I'd give is already posted so I'll try not to waste your time with redundancy. One big thing that jumped out to me was your fasting. 1) Consider learning to bake your own bread. The materials are few, cheap and last a long time. That can keep you full on the cheap and is kind of a fun hobby, imo. 2) Learn sewing basics if you don't already. 3) Free hobbies like disc golf (usually free to play) and hiking are favorites of mine. 4) get in the habit of saving, even if you think you don't make enough to do so. Every time you get paid, put something, anything, away with no intention of ever touching it (or until retirement). I know it sounds crazy at your age but in ten years you will love yourself for thinking ahead on this one. Personally, I like investing but that's not necessarily for everyone. Services like Acorns are great for novices that know they should invest but have no idea where to start. 5) Credit cards are dangerous, but, if you can trust yourself, a rewards card can reap major benefits. Put as much of your spending on the rewards card as you can each month and make sure you pay it off immediately so as to not incur interest. 6) Never spend change, but rather save it all. Annually (or whenever), cash it in and enjoy the found money. 7) get your annual doctor check ups and ESPECIALLY be sure to see your dentist every 6 months. Cleanings are not expensive. Cavities, crowns, root canals, etc., are hella expensive. To this point, medical insurance is a necessity. 8) do not let frugality become a (major) part of your identity. Your friends will admire your discipline, but it can easily become a burden if it's all you talk about and/or live for. Do not live such a Spartan lifestyle that you force yourself to be unhappy. I know not everyone may have such a luxury, but just try to keep that in mind if feasible.
This lady posted a really good breakdown of how she saves money throughout the year.
Pay yourself first now, whatever extra money you can spare put it into an IRA/401K now. You can thank my 50 years from now....
If you have a Walmart Neighborhood Market, I saved so much money shopping there. Aldi has some great sales though, I bought a 3-pack anchorware baking set for $10 and its the best. It wouldn't hurt to compare the two, food wise.
Watch how much you eat out, make your own meals.
You’re already miles away from where I was at 19 when I was on my own. I just encourage you to track your spending. It doesn’t mean don’t spend, just keep track. You can set yourself a budget for each category and try not to go over.
If you want to invest or stumble on one, Peshtemals aka Turkish towels are wonderful. YOu may panic about the thinness, but they're tremendously absorbant. they're lighter and take up less space in you washing machine too.
Track your expenses and pay your bills on time. After a few months of that, you will have a gauge of how much you're spending and when, if you have anything you can cut back on, etc. From there, you will be able to make a solid budget and understand where your money is going. Also, as other have suggested, please check out your local library for not only books and movies, but also if you're ever in a bind and need to use a computer or print something out. Oftentimes, libraries also have free or cheap programming to help save on entertainment as well.
Learn to cook. You can't really live on junk food without damaging your health (and that's not just dangerous for your independence but also very expensive).
This cooking hability will serve you the rest of your life, so it's really worth to learn.
Make the rounds when grocery shopping and stock up for foods that store well if you find a good deal. Aldi is a great place, but often other stores (Kroger in my area) will have really good deal items too. I usually hit one of the 'major' grocery stores first, and fill in the gaps with a final stop from Aldi.
Cook and freeze where possible. Unless you are very careful, it's easy to generate extra waste when cooking for one person. Freezing or multi-day meal planning can help with the waste. Especially with things like tomato paste, broth, or veggies where you a small quantity for one meal..
the cheapest, long lasting and easiest food to make is lentils/beans and rice. my parents managed to flourish financially because their monthly food cost was less than 50$. you can buy a big bag of flour, bag of rice, bag of beans and lentils. that 50$ you spend will last you at least six months if you like eating it atleast. then check which are the cheapest veggies or meat deals, and supplement the rest of your week with that. produce is how people make their money rot, because we assume we can eat a tub of spinach in two weeks but often dont. you already cook and meal prep, but look up how to make everything from scratch. tortillas for the days you want tacos, you can make homemade tortillas which not only taste better, but are cheaper. although tortillas are cheap, like 2$ for 10 pack.. it would probably cost you 25 cents worth of flour to make the same amount at home. yes, i know it is a little time consuming tho.. but learn how to make breads, tortillas and baked goods at home.
if you live in a city, you could also rent out your airbnb a weekend out of the month and either go sleepover at friends for the weekend or visit family or go camping. my friend does this every weekend and he makes 1000$ a month off of airbnb minimum. one time he even slept in his car during a big concert weekend, because that weekend his airbnb made him 800$.
you can also have someone rent your couch. put out an add for someone to pay 300$ to sleep on your couch. be careful of who you screen, lock all your shit at all times etc. but if you charge to low on your listing, you might just invite a junkie/theif/desperate person into your house.
whatever is leftover after your bills, needs to be split in half into an emergency fund. an emergency fund is 3x rent, and an extra $1000. once you have a little piggy bank, then start actively spending your money on things you want/need.
this might seem like bad advice, but get a credit card that has a small spending limit like 2000$. use this for things you have money for ONLY. but it will help you spread out some of your bills. so that way you always have a wiggle room, and can make a cushy emergency fund.
stop donating your clothes and start selling them on depop. things that you know will get bought, not ratty old clothes. my brother sells all his decent clothing for 50% original price. so at least youre getting something back when and if you ever buy new clothes that are not second hand.
go to college. if you qualify for financial aid, take at least one class.. even if it is online. usually the school will you give you some money like 300$ to buy books and such, or sometimes even more depending on your situation. this might not apply to you, but look into it.
make an excel sheet of every single thing you bought, how much it cost and what month you bought it. if you bought 5$ soap and it lasted 3 months.. thats fine. if you bought 2$ soap and it only lasted 1 month, that is not fine. this way you can compare your expenses, while also being able to use coupons because you will know when you will need something, and when youre just buying because sale.
goodluck lil one
Cook at home - for me that has ways been the best way to cut costs and also stay healthy.
If your work schedule is tight, then cook over weekends and freeze food to use through the week.
Pick up a side hustle, like a babysitting gig. Babysitting gigs alot of times includes free meals. Just make sure that the trip is worth the pay. ie - that it pays the gas money.
As you get tired of your furniture or want to improve or add nicer bowls, cookware etc, I highly, highly recommend Facebook marketplace. I’ve been penny pinching on furniture since I got out of college, and finally had enough and wanted my apartment to look like I have been a professional for years. Remodeled my entire apartment for $1000, which included a crate and barrel couch with washable cushion covers will hopefully last me at least a decade or two, rugs, custom finished coffee table side table and buffet, and various frames for artwork and family photos. Love my apartment now, feels like home.
Maybe not the most useful for now but even when you have small needs like, say, a rack to hang dry your clothes, or a frame for your bed, you can find a lot of that on there for half the cost of new.
Cook your food, it's easy to get used to take overs
Cask wine and grow your own veges and herbs
-Look into "capsule wardrobe", less clothes but more options for the outfits. Clothes that are rewearable look better if you dont crumple them, hangers?
-walking is a great way to learn your neighborhood, meet neighbors who know whats happening around the city, and may have that tool to borrow if you need or petting sitting money.
-On FB there a group call Buy Nothing, its neighborhood gifting and borrowing. Be kind and prompt, it'll be appreciated.
-When eating out, plan for tip and tax. if you cant tip, dont eat out. (American speaking) Waitresses in most of the country live on the tips
-The library!!! They have so much!! And really ask about the options they have online, which may extended beyond just the county. Its also one of the few free spaces to just casually occupy with out it being called "loitering".
-Generally Credit Unions over Banks. Find a local free financial coach through the credit union or social support places. Start building a good relationship and learning about your finances beyond saving money. Make the money work for you. You want the quiet and unfancy advice.
As a current college student, the dollar store and thrift stores will be your best friend. Find the grocery store with the best clearance section. If you can get some LED bulbs and some lamps, that could save you a bit of money on electricity. (I'm currently in housing that is a flat fee for everything, which is wonderful.) Try some reusable wool dryer balls, and maybe try making your own laundry soap. Frozen and canned goods are excellent food sources. And if you can buy things in bulk, do it. It's more expensive upfront, but generally worth it over time. Make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes. Don't skimp on those if you can help it.
You need a budget. Its $83 a year but invaluable to see where your money is going and when. Highly recommended.
Make sure you are getting the best deal possible on car insurance. Really shop around. Set aside a little money each pay check and build an emergency fund. Even if its just $5 a check. Good luck and it's great to be independent.
Don't buy drinks at restaurants or bars. Drink water. Its better for you and will save you thousands over the years.
It sounds like you've got it down! :) Use a crockpot, make a capsule wardrobe, use public transportation, dress in layers and keep the heat down a bit (don't be too cheap), Join Buy Nothing FB group or checkout free items on CL or FB--I got a lot of free furniture this way and other items I needed. Try ethnic supermarkets for cheap deals, like Mexican or Asian stores, you would be surprised! Entertain in your new apt, invite friends over, make food, play board games or just play music and dance--have fun while you are still young, just cheaply! I personally love thrift stores!
When I was first starting out on my own I found it really useful to have multiple bank accounts and a single rewards credit card. One bank account was for my monthly expenses. I knew I needed x amount of money in that account at the end of the month, so if I got paid twice a month I would first full that account 50% from each paycheck. All my gas, groceries, and household expenses went on the credit card so I could accumulate rewards (free money) and everytime I made a purchase I would transfer money from my main account into a third account which I would use to pay the credit card in full every month. Any leftover money would be divided between a savings account and discretionary "fun" money. It's not as complicated as it sounds, I promise!
Also, get renters insurance and take pictures of all of your possessions in case you need to make a claim. Keep track of receipts so you can easily return things that were defective.
I know its a no brainer but buy generic whenever you can. Discount grocery stores like Aldi can help you save. I can get enough food for 2 adults for a week for about 50 bucks.
Estate sales are a great way to get kitchen equipment/supplies and general household supplies. Your neighbourhood may also have a local buy nothing group.
It will be a bit hard to do at first, but put back an emergency savings account. If you can, at least 6 months worth of utilities/rent. You will be glad to have the money if something catastrophic happens, like losing your job or having your car break down. Savings has saved my butt a few times
Splitting a place can cut costs, cause half rent, utilities and any other stuff that is compatible to split. I always had good experiences with house sharing with multiple ppl, then just one when it was affordable. It was helpful to have people at times, plus savings.
You don't have to stay stuck with shopping at only also. Coupons are great and other grocery stores have things like digital coupons. Some places also give out free items through their apps.
Facebook Marketplace is your friend.. for furniture, appliances, tv whatever. Its usually very cheap, sometimes are people jsut giving shit away for free if you can come pick it up
Learn how to coooook. The convenience cost of not doing it yourself is pretty steep and once you establish the habit, it's easier to keep.
Take advantage of any retirement investment match your employer does. It's free money, compound interest is a beast and investing into a 401k or an IRA early means you need to invest much less.
Remember to run the heat hot enough to keep your pipes from freezing.
Heating water is expensive, and most of the time you don't actually need it. Hot showers are nice, but even a temped shower is thrifty. You don't need hot water to wash your hands- no evidence it's better- and it makes zero sense to put hot water into a cold pot before you put it on the stove.
Get in the habit of hitting up local thrift stores. You never know what you'll find. The big ones I recommend looking out for are slow cookers, rice cookers, instant pots, and hand tools.
If you don't get a cheap or free gym membership through work, try and make a home gym. Staying in shape is incredibly important for your long term health.
Get in touch with your local library. Free book rentals, most have some form of e-book service too.
Be social. Who you know is twice as valuable as what you know.
Do you plan to have a social life? Are you prepared to be home bound? There are always unforeseen money problems that pop up... If you can stay at home and save... Do you have a car? Many unexpected problems there... Can you work another job? Can you get a better job?
Annualise your bill costs, then divide the total down to a pay cycle figure. Put that amount aside so after a could of months you will have money for bills right there.
Put aside money into a savings account, even a little.
Something coming up unexpectedly will hot you HARD if you don't have that buffer.
After those are taken from your pay (automatically is smart), you have spendings money. From that you do your food budget, your cyclical costs like haircut, one meal out with a friend per month, one trip to the cinema per month, etc.
Don't set yourself up to live pay to pay and never doing anything for yourself. Having money for yourself on top of the stuff you can do for free for fun is healthy.
Cooking at home and meal prepping is a great start. You're young, you're going to have friends who will want to do stuff with you. To get social time in without breaking the bank or spending money out shitty movie nights with a potluck. Everyone bring a snack or meal item, eat together and watch low budget shitty movies, talking and joking is always welcome for shitty movie nights. Or game nights. Have fun with it. Crock pot is a great investment. Find big cuts of cheap/tough meats ( pork butts, tough cuts of beef etc) season and toss in crock pot let cook while at work or school, and then shred up the meat when done use for multiple meals. I like using pork butts and dividing the meat for bbq pulled pork, carnita bowls or burritos, salads, soup.
Consider a part time job at a restaurant. Doesn’t matter if it’s a server, cook, or dishwasher because it’s extra income and you almost always can get a free meal or leftovers each shift.
Sounds like you have a daily life financial choices down, though I hope you're being healthy about the fasting.
The big life financial choices are also ones you got to watch out for: education, car, house, etc. Probably will have the biggest impact on your financial health over the longterm.
Go to your local Goodwill and find a crock pot and a couple saute pans. If you want to make more of an investment, get an Instant Pot whenever they go on sale. Learn how to cook with rice, beans, potatoes, eggs, or oats. They're really cheap, have a good shelf life, and have a lot nutritional bang for the buck. The EatCheapAndHealthy subreddit is a good resource to use, too. Keep an eye on grocery store advertisements and, when meat goes on a good sale, pounce and grab as much as you can. Pork loin roasts got on sale for $0.99 a pound and chicken breasts for $1.49 a pound every once in a while, and I get enough to stock my freezer. Turkey breasts are usually cheap the week after Thanksgiving and ham the week after Easter. For extra credit, you can make friends with someone who hunts deer and split the processing costs of a deer with them. Deer's really lean and goes great in dishes that can sit and stew for a while - chili or Italian pasta sauce, for example. Meat is almost always going to be the most expensive ingredient in a meal, and soups, stews, and stir-fries are good ways of stretching that out with fillers so it'll last longer.
Many young, single people have roommates. If your housing is costing 50% of your income, this may be a good financial decision if you have the extra space.
Craigslist, FB marketplace, friends and family’s castoffs/basement are good places to start furnishing your place.
Sounds like you have your head in the right place! Congrats on the new place :)
Find supplemental income. I donate plasma twice a week. Commute aside, it takes me an hour and a half, and the average person only 40 mins or so. (I eat junk food and don't touch water) The money is about $400 a month, more when you're new.
Aside from that, I know you can get a lot of money (20,000~) for donating your eggs or carrying a baby for someone else and then handing it over when they're born.
If you're not afraid of the more raunchier options, there are people who report making stupid amounts of money for things like selling their used underwear or feet pics. It's simple enough that they don't feel grossed out doing it but far gone enough that they can make some real dough. Be safe out there if you go that route, and in general.
Look into government support. If your income is tight, you might qualify for a bridge card/food stamps, or other aid.
A roomate shouldn't be out of the question, just be careful who you let into your home.
You cannot be a surrogate unless you have already had one child.
Also, you can only donate your eggs a maximum of three times (although this varies depending on state), and you are not compensated until the end (and you can spend well over the paltry compensation getting to and from the clinics, because there aren't that many of them; I would have had to drive 3 hours one way to get to my nearest clinic and I live in a major city). You are also pumping your body full of a shitton of hormones that will and have caused serious side effects. I wouldn't wish egg donation on my worst enemy. I did a lot of research on it because I thought it might be a good way to raise money for college but holy hell, is it so not worth it.
dude, you're getting into
THIS. I wish I'd known about this sooner when I was in college. I got free medicaid and $200 a month in food stamps. A lot of my friends thought it was scummy. I pay my taxes, why not take advantage of the programs they pay for? I'd rather see a college kid on food stamps than a welfare queen whose never going to make a better life for themselves.
Maybe start by comparing the cost of having meals delivered with buying the same ingredients at the grocery store and see if you can save there.
I don’t have meals delivered—I meal prep with fresh ingredients (chicken, veggies, fruits) and sometimes have a frozen meal if I’m really craving it. I haven’t had a single fast food meal or delivered meal in 16 months. It’s helped stretch the budget so much.