As a twenty-something I am constantly watching what I spend and planning creatively with my budget. One of my supervisors joked with me that “being poor builds character.” Regardless of costs I don’t intend to miss out on any opportunities.
During the short time that I’ve lived on my own I continue to keep my eyes open and outlook positive. In doing so I’ve compiled my tips for twenty-somethings – ideas for living a full life with what you have (and the life lessons learned in the process).
1. Make connections – Connect with fellow twenty-somethings. Reach out to past twenty-somethings. Pay it forward to the future twenty-somethings. My greatest lessons of late have resulted from the amazing people I’ve started conversations with. Don’t be afraid to make the initial connection and say yes to expanding your network.
2. Travel / Stay with friends – I never thought I could visit Australia because I didn’t have the time or money. Then I realized I’m never to have a lot of time or plethora of funds. By saving and traveling practically (staying in hostels, booking excursions well in advance) a huge trip can be reasonable. Next up? Italy. I’m excited to utilize Wanderfly in my planning.I visted my friend in Park City, UT for Sundance Film Festival and skiing. Being able to stay with her saved me on a hotel reservation and transportation costs. Plus, I had the best tour guide.
3. Order from the “mom” at the deli counter – I do my grocery shopping in the suburbs because it’s cheaper than in the city. This means I’m hitting the store after work (usually hungry) – a potential disaster. The “moms” at the deli counter must recognize this because they always let me sample the meats/cheeses. Haven’t figured out why my fellow twenty-somethings won’t help a sister out…
4. Get involved – I’ve followed the3six5 over the past year and jumped at the opportunity to participate as an editor. I let go of any hesitation about not being selected when I shared my entry. You take yourself out of any opportunity by avoiding the chance.
5. Hang with Mom and Dad – I’ll head home for dinner, free laundry and conversation. All a win for me.
6. (if possible) give up your flight seat – On the return flight from my first business trip the flight was overbooked by one seat. If I chose to stay in Kentucky for the night I would receive a $400 travel voucher and make it back in time for work the following day. Thanks to that trip, I paid for my Park City flight (with some to spare).
7. Decorate the wall with tutus – My roommate and I met through our college dance team. I wanted to use our love of dance as the inspiration for our living room decoration. We have my first tutu and my roommate’s first pair of pointe shoes on our wall. What can you put on your walls? A baseball glove, guitar or music sheets? Not only do these items work as decoration, they provide insight into the decorators.
7.5 Recruit roommates based on shoe size – okay, sharing a size 7.5 shoe with my roommate is just a bonus to the awesomeness that is living with her, but sharing clothes/makeup is always helpful!
8. Utilize coupon specials – Thanks to Groupon I’m finding affordable options for dance classes, dinner/drinks and manis/pedis.
9. Take pride in what you do – A recent post from Andi Teggart prompted this tip. We get so busy that instead of celebrating the good we are sometimes just happy that we escaped the bad. Create a folder in your email account or on your desktop to save pertinent (and positive) emails and documents.
Andi suggests keeping a list of 10 positive things about yourself. No one likes writing about themselves, but it’s important to celebrate all the good that you do and all the potential for greatness still left to achieve. Another friend recommends taking time at the end of each day to write down three good things you did.
10. Hold out, they’ll come around – I’ve written about how my commute is often very trying. To help I activated my XM radio. After my free trial ended I was bummed to part with the tunes, but couldn’t justify the cost. Pretty soon XM came a-callling and offered me a subscription at half price.
11. Buy “Life After College” – This plug for my pal, Jenny Blake, is completely fitting for twenty-somethings (and beyond)! The title says it all: Life After College – The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want. In navigating the real world, I’m looking forward to having Jenny’s tips and tricks along for the ride.
12. Take advantage of freebies – Jewel recently had a special promotion where shoppers collected stickers in exchange for pots and pans. On the same note, tell people it’s your first apartment. My roommate was able to score 25 stickers for a $15 purchase. My aunt couldn’t get one sticker for a total of $9.95 ($10 was the minimum).
13. Refurbish old items – Why buy a vase when an empty wine bottle does the same trick? When I saw my neighbors were throwing out a children’s (yellow and green) table I saw a coffee table in need of a paint job (to match the tutu, of course). Rather than an actual drawer divider, an empty 12-pack is the perfect stand in.
14. Leverage your recent grad status – When car shopping I didn’t think I’d even be able to consider a new car. Turns out cars can be affordable. Who knew? A bonus to buying a car within two years of graduation is the student discount.
15. Be nice to the intern – Because if you’re lucky she’ll let you take home the lunch leftovers since she’s still “getting meals from the p’s” (aka parents).
16. Turn off the lights when not in use – Our dads taught my roommate and me well, evident from our $20 electricity bill. Be sure to unplug appliances when not in use, too.
17. Make friends with the bartender – Don’t think this one needs much of an explanation…
18. Keep in touch – We’re a digital group. However, there’s no reason for that to dictate how you communicate. Go beyond 140 characters, a wall post or text. Pick up the phone. Send a handwritten note. Check in regularly with your family and friends. It’ll lift your spirits and remind you of all the stellar people you surround yourself with.
19. Focus on your goals – Jackie Cole recommends creating a short list of goals where you can see it every day. Putting the words in front of you is a great reminder that any goal is within reach.
20. Don’t sweat the small stuff – Christa Marzan emphasized this tip in her contribution for the3six5. She calls out the importance in accepting the mistakes and looking to the big picture. Never let the stress get to you, take a deep breath and know that tomorrow is another day to succeed.
As a twenty-something I think we are in an age of constant learning. Learning about life, work, relationships and everything in between. Regardless of your age, what tips can you share for twenty-somethings?