(Note: I have not had time to craft a new set of coding puzzles for this month; I will post new ones when they are ready)
Who here hasn't worried about money? No, this isn't about your salary or how you can make more or how you can get a better offer. It's about how to manage money and the "thought of money".
Every college student has gone through a time when they didn't have enough money to spend on books or food or rent (or booze). Then you get a real job and suddenly you have income, but you're still in "ultra save mode".
I remember this well as the hotel Microsoft put me in had sample shampoos and soaps. Hey, I couldn't let that go to waste! An additional day I can use the free stuff is another day I don't have to spend real money! Then there was buying new pots and pans and silverware. The cheaper the better, I thought. I'll have more money for the future! Finally, there was choosing an apartment. The cheaper the better! I am glad to say I did not take that road as far as possible.
In the end I still ended up buying soap. I mean really, what was I saving here: I was pushing the cost of something off of a day. That means when I retire at 65, I will have one extra day of soap left. Honestly, I would bet money my 65 year old self is going to care less.
And the cheap pots and pans? The non-stick stuff is now coming off, I will have to buy a better set. If I had a quality set to begin with, I wouldn't have wasted the money on the cheap stuff.
And the apartment? If I had gone the road of getting the cheapest apartment, I would have more monthly income (a valid way to try and save more money) and I would have been miserable. Some people may not mind the neighborhood they live in or how thin their apartment walls are or how old and falling apart the apartment is, but it turns out I do. I made the right choice in finding a place that I had no reservations about. Instead of saying "I will suffer in the name of more cash!" I decided I would spend the extra dough and live happier. And a direct cause of that is I'm happier at work which means I do a better job and will make more in the long run.
A Tale of Pants
Don't nickel and dime yourself. There are good and bad ways to save money. A good way is to do research and find the best deal. A bad way is to compromise your standards. In the end what are you gaining? You'll have slightly more money and a lot less enthusiasm for spending it. I still find it very hard to just drop $100 on something. I think "do I really need this? Nah, I could live without it and spend the Mr. Franklin on something I really need". Instead I have started to think like "What are things going to be like if I don't get this now?"
A real life example here is related to pants; my pants specifically. I noticed some of my pants had holes in them and so I got rid of them, another pair didn't fit, another pair was becoming frayed at the cuffs. I realized one day that I had two pairs of usable pants. Let me tell you, washing one pair while using the other takes a lot of time and effort. And still and it was hard for me to go out to Old Navy and get some new pairs. "Do I really need this? Do I really want to spend time today to do it?" I finally decided enough was enough and bought new clothes. Lowering that penny pinching threshold will definitely prevent these situations from occurring in the future. I am more than a two pants kind of guy.
Time vs. Money
Sometimes you have to spend money to save time. Time for some people is much more valuable than money. Hey, if I could afford a maid to come and make my bed every single day, I would totally do it because it would save me time (and increase my standard of living*). I can afford to park my car at the airport, which saves me the time and effort it takes to find someone else to drive me there and back again. Airport parking FTW.
I had some friends who took their garbage and drove it to a dumpster near their place instead of paying the $10 to have trash pickup. Think of how much an inconvenience this is to save $10 a month. How much is your time actually worth? You decide. If it's more than $10, it's probably not worth driving your garbage around.
These are hard habits to break, not everyone will have these problems and not everyone will be able to break them. Just take a moment after getting into the swing of your job about what you expect your standard of living to be and work out what freedoms you're willing to let yourself have for a bit of convenience. With convenience will come more time to do things you want to do and that happiness means a more enjoyable post-grad experience.
*Because I don't ever really make my bed.