Bougie to startup founder — Tips for living on a budget.

4 minute read

So you’ve finally decided to quit your cushy job to pursue your own startup dreams. Good for you champ! I know personally how daunting it can be and requires some habit and lifestyle changes. You might be living off your own means while you wait to raise a round of funding and build your first product. Now it’s time to cut some Uber bills, delete a few delivery apps and break up with toxic subscription providers — the things we do for our dreams . . . I’ve personally been through this process and have compiled some tips to get you on your way to becoming a personal finance wizard(ess)!

Budgets, Budgets, Budgets

Some of us have been through this before — downloading various budgeting apps with a newfound enthusiasm for personal finance, yet we eventually never follow through. I agree that budgeting is time-consuming and boring but unfortunately, it’s in your best interest to stick with it. Here are a few tips to make the transition easier:

  • Tracking budgets manually is difficult so automate this process by finding an app that works for you. (I personally use Mint)

  • Start by creating bigger buckets of budget categories — rent, bills, food & others. Take a few iterations to hone in on the right amount of the budget for each category.

  • Once you’ve got the hang of those budgets, you can start to create more granular budgets in terms of drinks, groceries, clothing e.t.c.

The most important thing to remember while you take up budgeting is to think of it as an iterative process. Just like any habit, it will take time to establish it. You might set budgets and not meet them — but the key is to keep readjusting both the budgets and your spending habits until you find the sweet spot.

Detective Mode Activate

When you are getting into this new habit, it is beneficial to sit down and sift through your bank statements with a detective’s eye. While doing this exercise the idea is to:

  • Get intimately familiar with your monthly spending and habits.

  • Look for any unnoticed or unnecessary subscriptions or charges.

  • Banking fees that you might be paying for your account (there are options to get accounts that have no monthly fees).

  • To come to terms with your bad spending habits and accept them as they stand now.

Reduce your monthly bills

We keep paying for internet and mobile providers every year without wondering if there is a better deal out there. If you’ve been with your provider for a few years, it’s time to get some loyalty discounts or possibly find another provider. Seriously, it works. I saved a good chunk of change by calling both my internet and mobile providers and asking them for better plans.

Subscription Intervention

I know how much you love your subscriptions but let’s be honest- do you really need all of them? Maybe it’s time to break up. Start by going through your list of subscriptions and figure out what doesn’t spark joy. Some good strategies for better handling your subscriptions is to:

  • Keep only one subscription service in each category that is important to you — music, video, fitness, e.t.c.

  • Set a limit for the amount of money you want to spend on subscriptions in total and cut them until you reach the goal.

  • Cut all of them, and slowly bring them back online if you can’t live without it. This one is a more aggressive strategy.

Don’t “Skip the Dishes”

If you haven’t already, another lifestyle change that can save you money while also contributing to healthy habits is to start meal prepping. Keep in mind that when beginning this habit it can take some learning and getting used to. So you can try two different strategies.

Use a meal service

If you don’t have the cooking skills or the time to spend on meal prep a good option might be to consider ready to cook meal boxes like Chefs Plate, GoodFood, or any of the others on the market. They are a good way to level up your cooking skills while enjoying delicious meals at home.

Learn to meal prep

The other strategy is to get your hands dirty and learn how to meal prep properly. To get you started off on the right foot:

  • Decide on meals and recipes that align with your health goals and are easy to prepare and store.

  • Pick ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes that have a longer shelf life.

  • Pick a day for preparing the majority of the meals.

  • Bring variety to simple foods like baked chicken by having a good repertoire of spices.

Pay off credit card

Interest on most credit cards is through the roof so before you quit your job, make sure you pay off all your credit card debt. Ideally, you should never have debt on your credit card, but life happens and sometimes you have no choice. In the future, try and stick to buying things you can pay for in cash at the moment instead of depending on your credit card.

The Bottom Line

It won’t always be easy, but you’ve already taken the first step by looking into articles like this one. Stay vigilant and dedicated and it will become more natural with time. And yes, you can reward yourself once in a while with a night out, just don’t go wild. You’re not a millionaire. . . yet.

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