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Remember when you first enrolled in college and you thought that you were facing serious money problems? You worried about how the heck you were going to pay for your education, room, and board. But then you found a part-time job on campus and you set up some student loans. Life was tough, but you got by. You at least knew where you were going to sleep every night.

But then you graduated. You thought by now you’d be earning $100,000+ a year and you’d be living the life, but you are actually facing more uncertainty than ever. You are actually making less than $20,000 per year, you are not even working in your field of study, and now you have the weight of your student loan debt crashing down on you like a tidal wave.

Right now, you need all the money saving tips and tricks you can find! Here are a few hacks to help you make ends meet:

Look into deferring or refinancing your student loans.

First things first. It is important to try and get your student loan debt under control. If you cannot afford to make full payments each month (or any payments), you should check to see if you qualify for any student loan deferment programs offered through the government. In some rare cases, you may even qualify for student loan forgiveness.

If you do not, you may still be able to refinance your student loans. This can bring down your interest rate and may also land you with better terms. If you successfully refinance, you may be able to save yourself thousands of dollars over the coming years.

Keep a budget. 

Do you keep a budget every month? Is there a point at which you sit down and add up all your expenditures and figure out how much you have spent vs. how much you have earned? Do you really know where every dollar of your money goes every month? If not, you are never going to get your finances under control.

You need to understand the flow of money in and out of your life before you can make decisions that help you to save money. And that brings me to the next thing you can do.

Downsize your life.

“But I am already living on next to nothing. How can I possibly downsize from here?” Having lived on next to nothing, I can tell you that even if you are already near rock bottom, you may still find some wiggle room in your monthly finances. You may be able to call your cable company and talk them into a discount. You might be able to save money on food if you change how you cook. You could trade in your vehicle for a less expensive, older model, saving on both car payments, and monthly insurance costs. You may be able to save hundreds of dollars on rent each month just by moving across town.

Get your life down to the basics as much as you can stand. It may be hard, but not as hard as bleeding cash.

Shop at thrift.

Where do you go when you want to buy some new clothes or a brand new appliance for your kitchen? Most people head to the department store. That works, but it means you are paying full prices for a lot of items which you can buy at a steep markdown if you are willing to go used.

Thrift stores are your friend when you are poor! A lot of the merchandise which ends up in thrift stores is in really good condition, sometimes barely used at all. Why spend $100 on a new kitchen appliance when you can get a used version for $10 which works just as well? Why spend $40 on a new pair of jeans when you can buy a lightly used pair for $4?

Plus, shopping at thrift stores teaches you the value of recycling and upcycling. You never have to throw anything away. When you have something you can no longer use, you thrift it instead of taking it out to the trash. That way someone else can use it—and you may even get a discount on your next thrift store purchase.

Get away from impulse buys and vices.

How many times do you find yourself making an impulse buy while you are out and about or you are shopping online? And then a month later you wonder why you needed whatever it was you wasted money on so badly?

Set a rule where you will only purchase something unnecessary after giving yourself a week or a month to think about the decision. You will often find the impulse goes away. If it doesn’t, maybe you really do want it, and it really is worth it.

While you are at it, try and get away from your other vices as well. In particular, ditch drinking and smoking. Both are absurdly expensive and contribute no positive long-term value to your life.

It is tough cutting back on expenses and saving cash when you are already living hand to mouth, but there are a lot of tricks. Check out some additional money saving tips here.

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