How I Saved $20,000 in Two Years Out of College
Originally published February 5, 2021
I’m not sitting here at 4am writing this article to brag about my fortunate situation.
I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee beside me, motivated to write this story because I know there’s someone out there that hasn’t followed their dreams due to lack of money.
Trust me, I was in that position just a couple years ago.
We live in a time where it seems like half of the country just experienced their best money-making year ever while the other half has been devastated by the effects of COVID, unemployment, and social injustice to name a few things.
Yet I still believe there’s never been a better time to follow your dreams.
Here’s how I saved the money to make it happen for me.
Landed a Job Before Graduation
If you asked me two weeks before graduation what I was going to be doing afterwards, I wouldn’t have had an answer for you.
In fact, I hadn’t even received a job offer until a few days before graduation.
My senior year, I knew I wanted to be a financial advisor for my career. I applied to a lot of different places and was repeatedly turned down because I didn’t have a network of rich friends at the country club.
At the time I didn’t know it, but this would turn out to be one of the biggest blessings in disguise.
Landing a job before graduation was an important piece of the puzzle because it allowed me to have consistent income that paid my bills while still putting money towards savings.
Defined My Goals
After being turned down by large financial advising firms, instead of getting down on myself I decided I was going to start my own business.
I had the belief that there were more people I could help than just retirees (which is who most financial advisors work with because retirees generally have the most money to invest).
Being a millennial myself and seeing the struggles that my peers and other people my age were facing, I decided my business was going to work exclusively with millennials.
We face financial problems that’ve never been seen before.
The student loan crisis.
The health care crisis.
Inflated housing costs.
All while trying to grow up in this crazy, fast-paced, technological world.
Because I discovered my passion for financial planning “early” in life, I was able to start working towards that goal almost day one out of college.
I still remember sitting in my little one bedroom apartment getting excited with every new idea I would come up with and trying to find the perfect name for the business.
Because I tied my savings to a tangible goal (starting a business), saving money felt easy. I knew there was a reward on the backend and I was going to save as much as possible to get there.
I get an odd amount of satisfaction from saving money. It’s almost like when you know a vacation is coming up and you can’t wait to get there.
Every pay day, I would wake up and immediately check my bank account to see the new deposit from payroll.
I couldn’t wait to transfer another $800-ish dollars over to savings. And I didn’t view money as a dollar amount, rather what I could use the money for.
For example, every time I would transfer $800 I would think to myself, “there’s another month of business expenses”.
Tying my savings to a goal I was trying to reach helped tremendously with consistency. I highly recommend trying to do this if you find yourself struggling to save money.
I’d be lying if I said graduating without student loans didn’t play a big part in how I was able to save money after graduation. But my college wasn’t paid for by a trust fund either.
I graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and scored a 26 on my ACT which helped land a lot of academic scholarships.
I also received a small scholarship to play baseball.
I worked hard my whole life for the opportunity to go to college and my parents prioritized education from a very young age. So I was blessed with a great family and environment to help me succeed in the areas I wanted to pursue.
Even with student loans, it’s still possible to create a savings plan to make the most of your income. It’s okay if you see your classmates or colleagues spending money or reaching their goals because that’s their life, not yours.
You don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.
Stick to your plan and your goals and everything will work out.
And in today’s environment, it’s argued that college may not even be worth it anymore. There are many people out there creating income without a college degree and the burden of student loans, but we’ll save that topic for a different post.
Found things to do for free
When people think about saving money, it’s usually accompanied with living a cheap life. This is partly true, but you can still find happiness while being frugal.
In fact, I think spending less helps you value things more.
I rarely went out to Happy Hours after work and that was okay with me. I’m naturally more introverted which helped, but without having my goal of saving for my business as my north star, it would’ve been a lot harder to continuously say no.
I discovered new hobbies as well as picked up some old ones. One of my new favorite activities is skateboarding. Technically it’s not free because you need a board, but going to a skatepark or riding around the city is free, a lot of fun, and a good exercise.
Another thing I started to do was read more. My mom always encouraged reading and after high school, I don’t know if I read a whole book in the 4 years I was at college.
Since I didn’t want to spend money on activities, I also just started exploring the new city I moved to (Kansas City).
Every Sunday morning I would go to a new park or dog park or take my camera and go to a new part of the city.
It was fun and free.
Stayed the course
There were many opportunities to give up on my dreams and goals.
I could’ve taken vacations or spent more money on material things.
But there was one thing that always lingered in the back of my head:
I was either going to take the leap into entrepreneurship at a young age or I was going to live a regular 9–5 life forever.
While these obviously aren’t the only two options in life, it felt like they were at the time. I’d heard stories and seen firsthand people who weren’t happy with their life because they didn’t take risks or follow their passions earlier in life.
My thought process was that if I didn’t take a risk before life started to happen, I was going to get caught up in a bunch of different things and lose the motivation and time it takes to start a business.
This may or may not be the case, but I’m glad I developed a plan early on and stuck with it.
The Bottom Line
I believe the best way to save money is be tying your savings to a tangible and fulfilling goal.
I knew I wanted to start a business more than anything, so I was going to save as much as possible to reach that goal — and that’s exactly what happened.
Don’t underestimate yourself.
You could be a year or two away from living a completely different life.
It just requires a little planning and a little effort that others aren’t always willing to put in.