I know what you’re thinking: I’m an assistant! I barely make enough to pay my rent and now you’re expecting me to save money? Believe me, I know it’s hard. I spent two years as an assistant myself, and the experiences – good and bad – inspired me to launch a website, Save the Assistants. My book of the same name, a funny but practical guide for entry-level employees of all stripes, was published yesterday by Hyperion Books. So, based on what I learned, here are some ways that you can save cash while still making barely-scraping-by wages.
1. Save Money Every Week
Even if it’s ten dollars a week, put something in a savings account. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but putting a little bit of money away each week will motivate you. Brown bag your lunch one day a week and put the cash you would have spent in your account. Watching a little pile of cash grow in your account will make you feel better about your job – it’s a lot easier to gauge your priorities when you have a financial cushion to fall back on. You never know when you’ll have a health emergency or get laid off, either.
2. Figure Out What You Can Get For Free At The Office
If your office has a coffee machine, it’s worth coming in a few minutes earlier every day and brewing your own java, since you’ll be saving the cash you would have spent at Starbucks otherwise. Does your office have free bagels? A lunch once a week? Often, there are little extras you can get at work for free. Considering how little your company pays you, letting you take that extra sandwich home is really the least they can do.
3. Hang Out At Home
Instead of going out to bars and spending money on drinks every night, have your friends over at your place for cocktails. You’ll save a bundle by making your own drinks or splitting a six-pack, and you don’t have to tip anyone either. Ideally, your friends are the kind of people whose company you enjoy no matter what the location is.
4. Use A Debit Card Instead Of A Credit Card
I got into some credit card debt when I was first working as an assistant. Luckily, I was able to pay it off, but getting into a hole like that is really dangerous. Either use a debit card so you can only spend money that you already have, or religiously pay the entire balance of your credit card every month.
Virginia Woolf wrote that a woman needs money and a room of her own in order to write. What that meant was that a woman needed funds and space of her own if she wanted to be independent. Although trying to save money when you’re already financially stretched may seem crazy, any cash that you can put aside will help you to feel free. The number one reason people give for staying in jobs they hate is money, and if you can give yourself some kind of financial cushion you’ll be able to make work decisions based on your feelings instead of the state of your bank account.
Tell us in the comments (and win a free copy of Lilit's book, Save the Assistants!): What's your best money-saving assistant story?