Maine’s Young & Free spokester, Kylie Keene, shares money-saving advice for Maine’s 18-25 crowd

I was lucky to land a job as the Young & Free Maine Spokester just a month after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono with a degree in journalism. My new role as spokester meant I would represent the 18 to 25 crowd for Maine’s credit unions and provide useful and interesting information to my peers on the important topic of personal finance. During my first month on the job, I learned a few things about personal finance myself, including the importance of saving money.

Saving money has undoubtedly been the most difficult financial challenge I’ve faced in my years as a member of the workforce. I convinced myself that I was never making enough money to put anything away in savings. I worked part-time and full-time jobs since I was of legal working age, but the hourly pay was inconsistent and tips from waiting tables depended on how many people wanted to eat Thai food that night.

Now that I’m post-grad with a full-time job and steady paycheck, it should be easier to build my savings, right? This was not the case. After my first few paychecks I found myself spending the extra money instead of saving it. I bought a few more groceries, added new outfits to my wardrobe, and purchased concert tickets to fill my weekends.

And then reality struck. An e-mail arrived in my inbox reminding me that in a few short months my student loans would go into repayment. I looked outside at the Young & Free vehicle, realizing it was only mine for the year and then I would have to purchase my own car. At the same time, my lease would expire, and what were my plans for housing? Rent again or buy a house? It was suddenly clear to me that saving money should be my first financial priority.

It’s comforting to tell yourself that you’re going to start saving money, but you must take action. It doesn’t happen by itself. Just keep these things in mind and saving money will be easy.

Saving money is not an option.

Everyone needs savings. You never know when you’ll need the money for an emergency or a major purchase. Incorporate saving money into your everyday routine.

You can save money without thinking about it.

Ask your credit union what options are available for automatic deposits and transfers. I set up a weekly transfer online from my checking to my savings, so the same amount is deposited every week. I’m saving a portion of my paycheck every week without any extra effort.

Saving money does not have to cut into your fun.

Create a budget and figure out how much you can afford to save. Factor in things like bills, food and fun money. You can have fun while saving money, just create a budget and stick to it.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead as I share more of these learning experiences with the 25-and-under crowd. I hope my advice will help build a more financially responsible and prepared generation.

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