Striking out on your own can be both exciting and rewarding, but it also can be the most financially challenging time of your life.
If you had a stable paycheck before jumping into entrepreneurship, you will have to adjust to a new normal. Company-sponsored health insurance and gym reimbursements are just a couple of benefits you might lose in the process. Here are some simple lifestyle changes that can help you make the transition without ruining your finances.
1. Minimize your household expenses
I’ve always been proud of my independent spirit. One of my sweetest memories was putting the deposit down on my new apartment with money from my own bank account. However, when I left my high-paying engineer job to pursue my passion for writing, I knew I couldn’t continue my lifestyle. I moved out of my expensive apartment and back into my parent’s home to give myself the space to focus on my work without stressing over rent and utilities. If you have the option to get into a cheaper living situation while you build your business, I highly recommend it. It takes a lot more time for your business to become profitable than you think.
3. Meal prep
Restaurant bills add up fast! Plus, if you’re relying on restaurants for the majority of your meals, you’re in serious trouble. You will be amazed at how much money you can save by preparing all your meals at home and carrying your lunch with you. In general, grocery shopping is always cheaper than restaurants. Personally, Costco is one of my favorites. I can buy enough supplies for myself and even have some to share with friends while maintaining a healthy budget.
Pro tip: The executive membership lets you add another person and offers 2 percent cash back. This will allow you to split the cost of membership with a friend and reap the rewards from their shopping trips too.
3. Consider trading in for a cheaper car
A friend of mine bought himself his dream car, a sexy Honda Civic coupe, as a birthday gift to himself. However, after a year with the car, he realized he could save almost $200 per month on his car payment if he sold it and bought a 2015 VW Jetta. The Jetta wasn’t his dream car, but that extra wiggle room allowed him to make more strategic financial plans. If you can downgrade your vehicle without a significant impact on your comfort or safety, it’s definitely worth the consideration. The cash savings every month may come in handy if your company’s website needs a re-design, or you want to go to a professional conference in Oakland, CA (wink).
4. Skip the office
As a budding entrepreneur, the LAST thing you need is unnecessary overhead expenses. It might be tempting to think that a beautiful office space will command respect, but it will probably be more trouble than it’s worth. Take advantage of coffee shops, libraries, and public workspaces as long as you can in the early stages. If you start pulling in money and need more room and privacy, consider coworking spaces. Although you should still be careful because some coworking spaces seem reasonably priced until you realize that you will need to pay an extra $300/month to park anywhere near the building. Then you might be forced into a long commute on public transportation to avoid these fees.
5. Minimize administrative expenses
This relates to things like your website, email, and other admin tools. I love G Suite. For approximately $6/month, I have a business email account that works perfectly for a one-person operation. I also utilized Google’s free Google Sites feature to create a professional website, skipping the fees charged by more popular services like Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly.
Entrepreneurship is tough. If you’re transitioning from a comfortable salary to the volatile world of entrepreneurship, you’ll need to minimize your lifestyle, so it doesn’t detract from growing your business. Great fitness apps or even YouTube can replace gym memberships. A night out with friends can be replaced with a night in and a great bottle of wine from Costco (in states that let Costco sell wine). Staying financially healthy during the early stages of your business requires constant sacrifice, but if you love what you do and you believe in your business, it’s all worth it.