The fresh graduate's guide to smart spending | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 06, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 06, 2018

The fresh graduate's guide to smart spending

If you told me a year ago that I was going to write this article, I'd probably laugh it off because saving was never my forte. I was really comfortable with the “broke in the middle of the month” life. But as you grow older, responsibilities hit you like a truck and you end up contemplating your life choices with your empty wallet.

This is why I come to you with what I've learned to help you be wiser about your spending habits. By following these tips, you will never have to starve yourself a week after your payday.

Money is a finite resource and it is your most precious resource during this age. If you do not have a good balance at the end of your first year of job life, you will be in a world of trouble. You will not be able to invest in fixed assets, shares, or even businesses. And those are the keys to sustaining your financial health. Worse yet, if you don't get decent pay, it is even more important for you to be frugal with your spending.

Now that we've laid some context, let's get right into the meat of it.

Clothes and shoes

Even if you're the least fashionable person out there, there's a huge difference between being a hobo freshman and a graduate. And you will end up spending more than you need on clothes. For this simple category, I like to follow a simple rule: utility.

First thing's first, open up your wardrobe and check the type of clothes you have. Check your office wear first. Do you have three decent shirts and three pairs of pants? Good, keep them aside for now. If you don't have those exact number of clothing items, buy them and keep them aside. Clothes bought for the office are always a good investment and you should spend for the long-term so that they can last you for a solid 2 years, even more if you're careful with how you wash them. Get a decent pair of oxford shoes for your office attire. That's it, do not spend anymore behind clothes for the office. Even formal shirts that look good are not worth it. If you seriously HAVE to get a wardrobe upgrade for the office, do it every six months. But it's best to stop at the number I specified.

Now look at your casual attire, this is where you will analyse and map out your outfit pattern. Everyone has a style of matching their clothes. Some people wear t-shirts, a pair of worn jeans and sneakers. Some people like to wear fancy trousers with patterned full sleeved shirts untucked with loafers. Categorise how you like to dress, because this is important. Remember that Adidas Ultraboost you saw online? It's already a very big investment so are you sure you will use the shoes regularly for two years? If you belong to the semi-casual camp, don't get those shoes. They will only end up collecting dust in your closet and you will have spent $200 for absolutely nothing. If you really want sneakers, get a cheaper pair.

Always assess your current wardrobe and if a new clothing item fits that wardrobe. If it does not, no matter how much it hurts, let it go. Make it a rule to buy clothing items only during Eid and at the end of the year. Even when buying during those times, keep your spending within a set limit. You really don't want to blow all of the money you saved so far.

Food

This is the real kicker and honestly, it is the most wasteful category on this list.

Sure, you might be thinking, “What's a mere 1000 taka for this exquisite cheesecake?” but when it adds up to 10 cheesecake escapades in a month, you end up losing BDT 10,000 and gaining 10 pounds. Not a worthy trade-off.

Food is something we can't live without, but that doesn't mean you need to shell out for the most expensive items out there. Just because you have cash in hand, doesn't mean you can go to that restaurant you've been eyeing during your entire university life. Well, of course you can, but the expenditure is not worth it. Opt for cheaper, more filling meals.

Entertainment

Put everything that is for your leisure in this category and set a monthly cap. I like to set aside 12.5% of my monthly income for these expenses. Most of my spending is on video games, so I set aside enough so that I can at least buy the month's best title. If you're a party animal, the 12.5% cap still applies. Don't cheat.

LUXURIES

Here, we put your fancy watches, your jewellery, and other vanity items. You are only allowed one luxury item purchase in one year. Sure you can go for more if you would rather have a fancy watch and an empty stomach.

At the end of the day, we all spend way more than we need to. If you are happy with your salary and think that there's enough dough for you to enjoy the bigger things in life, these rules can be a little more lax for you. After all, life is short and we regret the stuff we didn't do. But, bear in mind, your parents will not sustain you forever. Thus, you will have to be responsible with your money to some extent.

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