Chicago — Federal student loan payments are set to resume in October and young people around the country are worried about how it’ll impact their financial situation.
Like me, many can barely scrape by from what remains of their check after funneling a huge portion of it to necessities and bills. How could we make any more room for another payment without cutting back on the things we need or even ones we want?
While it’s a tough question to answer, there’s a few practical ways we can dissect our budgets to see what can be done. One of them is by considering our financial priorities. There will always be expenditures you’ll absolutely need to make like ones related to your rent, gas, water and heat, for example. But you might find that others can be adjusted or that you can live without them.
Cutting back on your grocery budget
Everyone needs to spend on food, but there are several ways to economize as you make grocery choices. I’ve been experimenting with this as it relates to chicken. I’ve long gone to the store and bought separate packs of chicken breast, chicken wings or thighs for meals I’d be having that day and for the days ahead. It can be a pretty expensive deal. After some research, I found out that buying a whole chicken is cheaper per pound than most individual pieces. That led me down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos about cutting up whole chickens properly and then, experimenting with it myself. Though I gag every time I curve up the bird, I have to say - it saves me money.
While we’re talking about food, we need to talk about eating out. It’s easy to do and it’s fun to do. But it adds up. If we really want to save money for the financial hardship to come, we need to sacrifice those random McDonald’s trips and those spur of the moment lunches at Chipotle. That doesn’t mean we can never enjoy a burrito every once and a while but we need to limit it.
Internet and phone bills
Internet access may be a necessity for your work-from-home job but do you really need the best plan the company has to offer? You’ll obviously need your phone both inside and outside of work but do you really need a plan with the fastest speed and enhanced access to every single streaming service?
Speaking of streaming, those plans add up too and from what I’ve observed, a lot of people end up subscribing to services they don’t even use that often. It might pain you to miss out on shows everyone is talking about but canceling services you don’t use frequently will save you money and a headache in October.
Other areas of savings
Another potential change may come from how much you spend on car insurance each month. It might be helpful to get quotes from other insurers to see if they could offer you a lower monthly payment.
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett