Certainly a question that everyone deals with at some point. My best piece of advice is to first come up with a monthly budget. Take what your monthly income will be and weigh that against your expenses (rent, utilities, gas, shopping, clothing, fun) and put those individual items in an Excel spreadsheet. This is called "bucketing" your expenses and will help you mitigate the variable costs (gas, groceries) with the fixed costs (rent). Keeping things in an Excel spreadsheet lets you visualize it monthly as well as provides tangible limitations to what you can and cannot spend.
For example, say you make Net (after-tax) $2,000 a month. Your rent is fixed at $1,000 a month and your utilities could run anywhere between $100-$200. That leaves $800-$900/month to spend on the other expenses in your life (groceries, clothing, gas, fun). I would recommend saving a minimum of 10% of Net and putting that into a Savings account. So, as long as you STICK TO the budget, you should be able to both save and live comfortably. Obviously these numbers are scalable to what you will be making, this is just a basic example.
For grocery shopping, there are several price-conscious chains our there that help accommodate tight budgets, such as Aldi or Wal-Mart. Check online sales for things you may need around the house, Amazon is typically cheaper than most stores. If you have a Nordstrom Rack in the area, they provide high-level clothing for a significantly reduced price.
Michael recommends the following next steps:
- Create a budget spreadsheet.