One a Penny, Two a Penny: Personal Finance Tips for Young Professionals

One a Penny (2)

As nonprofit professionals, our work lives are often defined by finances. While we may not be investing in the stock market or handling the daily financial oversight of our organizations, our experiences at work are directly influenced by money. For example, our organization’s fundraising plan may determine the ability to hire new staff. We are already conscious about how financial stability impacts our professional lives, but we need to be just as aware of how much our paycheck affects our daily lives. Whether you’re making enough to live comfortably or are just scratching by paycheck-to-paycheck, it is essential and absolutely necessary to save for the future.

Many millennials are exposed to important financial topics, such as the 50-30-20 rule, but not everyone has been introduced to this information, and the implications are serious. Student loan debt has doubled over the past seven years, totaling close to $1.3 million. We constantly hear about how our generation won’t obtain the same financial success as our predecessors. The statistics and stories are enough to scare anyone from action; however, saving isn’t a zero sum game. There are small ways to reduce spending and increase savings.

  • Take a hard look at your monthly, weekly and daily budget. How much did you spend on coffee? Did you know that your daily Starbucks can cost over $1,600 per year? That’s a whole vacation.
  • Take some time on the weekend to prep meals for the entire week. It will not only save you money, but will free up your weekday evenings.
  • It’s not necessarily the big purchases that break the bank, but the small ones which add up over time. Buy a daily diet coke during the week? Bring a six-pack from the store vs paying the mark up of the corner store.
  • There are many online platforms that help you track spending and save over time if it isn’t one of your strengths. Mint, Acorns, Dyme and Tuition.IO are all great examples.
  • Overwhelmed by your weekend costs? Host friends instead of paying your bar tab. Everyone likes a good potluck. I recently threw a beer-exchange party where everyone brought a different beer-it was a great way to taste some new ones without spending a ton of cash.
  • Make it automatic! One easy way to save is to automatically add $100 (or more) to your savings account each month. You don’t even see the money leaving your paycheck, so you don’t miss it.

For more tips and trades, there are a lot of fun financial blogs out there, or if you simply don’t know where to start, don’t be a stranger. I might be counting pennies, but I’m always up for a brown-bag lunch! Feel free to contact me at


About the Author

Kara Zucker_PictureKara Zucker is focused on leadership, mentorship, and creating a measurable impact through changing the culture around money. As the National Program Director for Moneythink, a non-profit providing technology-enhanced financial capability education to American youth, Kara manages Moneythink’s Program Network and Partnership Outreach to schools and organizations invested in financial behavioral change. Her leadership and community involvement outside of Moneythink includes being a professional mentor for New Sector Alliance, a Launch U mentor, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Area Peace Corps Association. When Kara isn’t taking on a new project or challenge, she enjoys traveling to new countries on her wish list, snowboarding, and reading.