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After the Bar

Personal & Financial

Tips and Tricks for Tackling Your Personal Budget

Francisco J Ramos

Tips and Tricks for Tackling Your Personal Budget
JGI/Jamie Grill via GettyImages

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If you are a young lawyer, you likely have student loans to pay off. When securing loans, you researched what loans you were eligible for, compared interest rates and payment plans, and secured just enough in loans to meet your needs. Now that it’s time to pay, focus on your personal budget.

How Do You Reduce Costs?

Reduce monthly service payments. You may have one or more of the following monthly payments: television, music, or book streaming services; cable; gym membership; food delivery. Individually, these monthly payments are not much. Collectively, they are a drain. Do you need Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu? Do you need cable television? Do you need that monthly gym membership? I work out at home. It is faster, cheaper, and more efficient. Be honest about your regular monthly payments and eliminate some of them.

Eliminate daily expenses. The daily, minor expenses—such as coffee at Starbucks or eating out at lunch every day—add up. Drink coffee at work. Pack your lunch two or three days a week. These small savings add up.

Do not live the lifestyle. Just because you are working toward becoming a high-powered lawyer, does not mean you have to spend and look like one. Avoid the big house, fancy car, and outlandish vacations. If you surround yourself with people who care about these things, get new friends because they will not be there when you need them.

How Do You Make More?

Earn what you are worth. Know your value in the marketplace and seek it from employers. To that end, never stop working toward improving your skillset and making yourself more valuable.

Develop business. Spend time creating, cultivating, and building relationships with potential referral sources. Having a book of business is the surest way of making more money as a lawyer.

Pursue secondary sources of income. If you have the time in your already busy schedule, you can teach a class at your local college, tutor, or write freelance articles for publications that will pay. There are several odd jobs you can do in the evening and on the weekend to create additional streams of income.

Cultivate your public speaking skills. Motivational speakers are in high demand. Develop your speaking skills by watching online videos on public speaking and participating in your local Toastmasters. Develop your voice and story and start speaking for free. Eventually, if you have something to say and it resonates with others, you will get paid for what you have to say.

Well into my career, I had more expenses than I could handle. I was responsible for my mother’s medical and home health care expenses and was subsisting on peanut butter sandwiches and oatmeal for more than a year. Our family got through it. No matter how precarious your financial situation is, there is a way out. No matter how large your loans are, there are ways to pay them off. Analyze and weigh your options and do what is best for you and your budget.