I have mixed emotions when I think of my overall experience as an entry-level reporter. I got my first job in television news seven years ago in Virginia. It was a roller coaster and can best be described in a pie chart because I like organization… and I also like pie.
Here’s the breakdown:
15% Accomplishment for landing a job out of college
10% Bitterness for getting laid off after 18 months
25% Gratitude for the blessing in disguise of being laid off
20% Fortunate for getting the experience I needed to advance in my career
30% Wonder for how in the world I survived off a tiny small market salary
The thought of that $21,500/year salary still makes me sick… especially paired with, at the time, $65,000 in student loan debt. You know what? I survived. Here’s how:
I only bought items on sale/special:
I found the cheapest, quality grocery store and was a loyal customer. I looked at the sales flyer, made a shopping list, and stuck with it. I had a weekly grocery budget and never exceeded it. I also relied on the grocery chain’s fuel points to save money on gas. Same rules applied to shopping for clothing, accessories, and household necessities.
I used a debit card or cash:
You can’t spend money you don’t have, right? Exactly.
So, I avoided using credit cards. There was always the occasional exception but for the most part, I stuck with my debit card or cash.
I did things myself:
I'm a girly girl. I like wearing nail polish, putting on makeup (sometimes), and styling my hair. While I would never consider cutting my own hair, I did save money by getting it cut dry. I also painted my own nails and waxed my own eyebrows. When it comes to makeup, I committed by buying off-brand or drugstore items, which saved a lot of money. There are plenty of high quality and cruelty-free products available. I still use many of the same products because I will never in my life justify spending over $30 on a foundation.
I worked a second job:
When my student loan repayment kicked in, I desperately needed additional income. I browsed Care.com to look for babysitting jobs. I ended up getting hired to nanny for a family twice a week. The extra money every week made a huge difference. This family was so wonderful and friendly. I was really fortunate to work for them. It was an added bonus that I loved their dogs, so they also hired me as a pet sitter.
I worked a third job:
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And by going… I mean going to work at a winery. It’s no secret that I love wine… so when a local winery was hiring weekend bartenders, I was intrigued. It paid well by the hour and also gave me the opportunity earn tips. Honestly, some days I made more money in three hours at the winery than I did in eight hours at my full-time job.
I said no:
If I couldn’t afford to go out with my friends, I was okay with saying no. I didn’t have to tell them I couldn’t afford it, I just told them I was busy, had other plans, or was relaxing. Having other part-time jobs definitely helped with this. If I was working that meant I was making money instead of spending money somewhere else.
I refinanced my student loans:
I shopped around for the best refinancing deal and lowest interest rate.
CommonBond gave me a much lower interest rate and better pay-off plan. This month (August 2019), the lender and finance company is offering a referral deal. If you use my affiliate link* to refinance your loans, you’ll get a bonus $200 sent to your PayPal account. That’s a pretty good deal.
Of course, every individual situation is different. These are goals I set for myself and they worked. Seven years later, these goals continue to work for me. No matter your paycheck or how much debt is involved, there are always ways to cut spending, save money, or even make more money. How do you commit to sticking to your budget? Let me know!
* This post contains an affiliate link with Commonbond. This means if you click the link and choose to refinance your loans with Commonbond, this blog will receive commission at no cost to you. In fact, you will get a bonus $200 for refinancing your loans through that affiliate link. Funds earned will be used for operational costs such as website, domain, marketing, and outreach.
Maria Satira is a full-time journalist and part-time blogger, freelance writer, and content creator. She loves sarcasm, rescue dogs, and red wine. She despises bland food, poor grammar, and litterbugs.