My blog, Sufficient Fundz, exists to help young people get off the ground faster and manage your money. We all want to have enough money to do whatever we want in life; my goal is to draw on all the lessons I’ve learned and show you how.

The idea was born while we were at uni. It was a standard student night in Newcastle, Australia, and the usual scene was playing out; one of my mates returned from the ATM, head down, with the all too common “Insufficient Funds” slip in his hand. One thing lead to another and we started our own t-shirt business, selling Insufficient Funds t-shirts and trucker caps to the world!

Productive ways to manage your money when you don't have much to begin with

Ok not quite… but it did fund a road trip around the US for us!

Sufficient Fundz is now about having enough, and when you’re at uni, this can be a difficult thing to grasp. Managing money isn’t easy especially when you don’t have much. However, if you get it right at this stage in your life, it is one ingredient that will make your future far brighter.

Depending on whose definition you use, I just sneak in as a millennial… but I’m definitely at the more experienced end! I graduated in 2004, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the basic concepts around saving and managing money, especially when you’re not earning a lot.

Productive ways to manage your money

Here are my tips to managing your finances when you don’t have much to begin with:

#1 Get a job, have multiple jobs!

Obvious advice right? Well a lot of those I went through unI with didn’t do much earning. This is your chance to start building your resume as well as earning some cash. If you don’t earn money it is difficult to live, but you will also miss out on the lessons that having money, and making the mistakes that we all make, will teach you.

Try sales, work in a bar, do something on campus where you can mingle with potential mentors.

#2 Understand what’s coming and going

It is no secret that having a budget works if you want to manage your money. Just like running a business, you have income and expenses. Becoming inherently conscious of your spending is the first step to the life you want and will set you up for financial success.

Start with a simple template. Amanda and Julia have an awesome one right here. You can grab that by clicking here and accessing their library.

There are also apps that can help you with this and are often free. Try Money Brilliant or My Prosperity in Australia, or in the US, You Need a Budget (YNAB).

#3 Pay yourself first

This one comes straight from Billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Don’t get confused by what this really means – it should say “pay your savings account first”. Some people don’t get the connection 🙂

When you get paid, whether that’s Austudy or from your part time job, set up an automatic transfer to a separate account that you don’t touch. Google “high interest savings accounts” as a good starting point. Look for those that pay bonus interest and don’t have any card access. No dipping into this for the late night 7-Eleven run.

Start with a small amount and increase where possible. You’re creating a life-changing habit. Make it consistent and watch your money confidence grow!

#4 Have dreams, and make savings your vehicle to achieving them

In my 10 years as a financial planner, there is one thing I’ve seen more than anything else: Saving for saving’s sake doesn’t work.

If you have meaningful targets for your hard-earned e.g. car, festival tickets, backpacking southeast Asia etc, you will be far more likely to keep the saving in when times get tough (and they do!)

#5 Rent/shelter – key survival requirements

Look at your living arrangements if you want to manage your money. Can you minimise rent? If you’re a couple in a 1 or 2 bed apartment, have you thought about a share house, or smaller studio. Airbnb your spare room.

You parents might not be stoked but can you move back in? If you’re trying to get ahead, boost your savings or clear some debt this can be a game-changer. It’s not forever, but even a 6 month stint could make a real difference.

Which city are you living in? Do you need to? Cost of living varies between our capitals, but even moreso regionally. The big city might be beneficial for networking and building contacts, it’s also where the big jobs are once you graduate but this isn’t for everyone. We run a completely remote business and although we choose to live and work in Sydney, we could operate it from anywhere.

The world is changing rapidly in this space, so is your ability to choose where to live and enjoy a lower cost life.

#6 Living within your means is actually cool

I’m not talking about drinking goon sacks and eating two-minute noodles every meal (although it worked for us!) but with social media, there is so much pressure to look amazing and live the awesome Instagram life.

If this is what you enjoy you don’t have to stop, just make sure you do it all on the cheap.

Embrace second-hand – There is awesome stuff barely used for a quarter or less of the price. Make Ebay or Facebook Marketplace your first stop.

#7 Fitness – use the free stuff

Ditch the gym membership and embrace the great outdoors to help manage your money.

Walk or ride your bike as transport.

Take up outdoor hobbies. We all surfed so this was easy and it became the thing we did whenever we had a spare two hours. Sun, fun and fitness… and it costs almost nothing!

#8 Travel

Make sure you’re putting money away to still enjoy yourself. This is the time in your life when you have very little responsibility and you need to get out and see the world!

The key is to visit low cost locations – it is possible to find some places where the cost of living for one week is less than the cost of one day at home, so even with flights you’re practically saving on holiday.

Do you research, Airbnb your place back home, and rent your car out while you’re away. You will find it is far cheaper than you thought, you just need to get creative and don’t be lured into the materialistic, 5-star world. Save that for when you’re making millions.

#9 Watch-outs

You need to know that there are some cruel businesses out there that are set up to take advantage of you and your need for cash. They play on your emotions and usually have massive advertising budgets so you see their ads on TV over and over again.

One example of this is Nimble. That cute little bunny on TV will come back to bite you in the form of a very high interest rate and massive penalties for late payments. If you need $2000 now, you’ll end up paying at least $4000 back to them for the privilege. Avoid this at all costs.

Credit cards are similar. I didn’t have one until I finished uni and starting earning full time. Even then you still need to be careful. My advice is avoid all forms of lending and credit, including cards, until you’ve proven to yourself that you can save and manage money.

Wrap Up – Manage Your Money

This is supposed to be an awesome time in your life and you need to make the most of it. One thing you will learn is that money plays a major part in our lives whether we like it or not. Every major decision you make will have a money aspect to it so using these tips and getting control of your finances at an early age will truly set you up for success and help you manage your money better!

Thanks AJ!

A massive shout out to Amanda and Julia for inviting me to post on their site. You guys are running an amazing platform here and I love the community you’re building. Congratulations, and keep up the good work!

About the Author:

James blogs at Sufficient Fundz where he helps young people get off the ground faster. 
After years of travelling, working in the corporate world managing large teams of millennials, and now running his own financial planning and mortgage business, YOLO, he shares his tips to help you make the connection between money and life so you can get more out of both!

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