A Guide to Living Beyond Your Means (Without Going Broke)

I will be completely honest- I was a bit of a financial hot mess in college. The combination of a new environment, the temptation of online shopping living in a small town where there were constant trucks delivering the latest L.L. Bean and J.Crew releases to the Bucknell population and having a debit card for the first time was not a good thing for nineteen year old Emma. 

Living in one of the most expensive and tempting cities in the world, I quickly was able to get things under control. One of the most valuable discoveries was The Financial Diet, a website and YouTube channel targeted for millennial women based here in New York. I owe a lot of my financial tips to them. I wanted to break down some of the things that have been helpful living above my means since entering adulthood and wanted to share. In reference to "living beyond my means," I mean utilizing little tricks that allow me to live a higher quality of life for less than market price. 

Rent | A reality of young adulthood is likely less than ideal living situations. Having rent that is within budget is one of the best ways to reduce financial stress, even if it means adding one more roommate or getting crafty with temporary walls. I also recommend putting the time into decorating and organizing. The more love you put into a place, the more you will enjoy spending time in it. 

Travel | I have found that timing is everything in planning to get dates on the calendar and less expensive travel tickets. Staying with friends and family is a great way to connect with loved ones you might not be able to see as often throughout the year and get a local's perspective on a place! Summed up? More time = more flexibility and options.  

Clothing | I love clothes. I love walking around Madewell aimlessly looking at all of the new scarves, dresses and leather goods. My top two tips are to keep a list of clothes that you need and/or want and either wait for sales or buy items online (or in stores if you're lucky!) second hand. This prevents impulse spending by being able to think about if an item is worth it to you. Ebay is great for a lot of accessories that I tend to buy a bit higher quality under specific brand names (ie: Kate Spade wallet). 

Food | Not the most fun answer, but drinking and eating out less have probably saved thousands of dollars. Cooking can be super daunting to start, but I recommend trying HelloFresh or picking two recipes per week to tackle and make a big batch that can be eaten throughout the week. 

Savings | Automate. 

I also wanted to conclude this post with a very harsh reality that I have learned two years into "the real world"- everyone wishes they had more money. Few people live without worrying about finances. Gratitude is essential, especially in a time in their 20's where it seems like everyone is progressing faster than you. There are always things that we can be grateful for- whether it's not having student loans, the ability to live with family and work (a true privilege for anyone who grew up outside a large city), supportive parents, or a hot meal every day, these opportunities are not given to everyone.  Have a wonderful rest of the week!

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