Hello all! I’m still honeymooning so today I have another guest post from fellow blogger, Anum! She specializes in personal finance advice and tips for college students and 20-somethings. If the hilarious memes on her blog don’t cheer you up, her distinct writing style and passion for personal finance will. I’m sure most of us have worked as a server at one time or another, but have you ever thought about how it could affect the way you view budgeting?
I usually consider myself pretty successful and extremely lucky. I’m working my dream job and my life is coming together. But I wasn’t always able to say that.
Back in my sophomore year of college, I worked as a server and bartender in a Japanese sushi and hibachi restaurant. It wasn’t the dream job, but it was money.
At the time, I didn’t think much of it except for the cash I brought home every night in tips. But looking back, I can see that it actually taught me a lot about how to budget and how to manage my money. Here’s what I learned.
Big Talkers Aren’t Big Spenders
Usually, it wasn’t the guys dressed in fancy suits holding important business lunches who tipped generously. It was the simple family of four that gave the good tips.
This taught me what I have learned to be true in the real world. Usually, it’s the people who are successful but modest who are the most generous and willing to lend a helping hand or an extra dollar because they know that they worked hard to get to where they are. The people who had their money handed to them and like to show it off are the ones who also want to keep it to themselves.
It’s Easier to Spend Than to Save
Okay, most people already know this one. It’s not a hard lesson to learn. But being a waitress drilled this life lesson into me day after day and weekend after weekend.
As a waitress, I wasn’t getting my paycheck biweekly. I got my paycheck every single night when I walked out the door with a wad of cash in my wallet from the night’s tips. Usually, I left work and went for a cup of coffee.
Being a waitress is exhausting and I didn’t want to fall asleep behind the wheel or when I was doing the hours’ worth of studying I still had to do that night.
So when I went for that coffee, it was easy to spend that cash instead of first thinking about when I’d be getting my next paycheck and how much money I could spend until then. Because my next paycheck was coming the next night.
It became way too easy to throw away that cash. This experience taught me that it’s a much better idea to put the cash earned into a bank account where I could easily track my spending and know how much I have. I also opened a savings account and dedicated a certain amount of money each week to savings. This was hard at the beginning, but paid off when I had a nice amount of savings.
Cash seems to get away from us pretty easily, so learning how to handle the cash and money flow that I was getting was an important lesson to learn and one that I kept with me throughout the years.
Highs and Lows Usually Even Themselves Out
This is a lesson I learned in regards to tipping, but it can be applied to broader financial situations. There would be times when I’d have someone leave me an extremely generous tip, then an hour later have a table of six that left me a dollar. These both seem like outliers, but when I looked at the night as a whole it actually evened out.
My take-away each night was fairly consistent because, even though I had a mix of high tippers and low tippers, they evened each other out to my average amount of tips per night. Of course, some nights were busier than others, which also affected my take-away, but overall I learned that even with the outliers, there’s usually a baseline.
I think this is true outside the restaurant world, too. Sometimes, you need to spend a little bit more because of an unexpected situation, so your budget is tighter that month. But then the next month, maybe you’ll save a little bit of money by scoring a great deal at the grocery store and your budget is back to normal. Overall, things normally tend to even out in terms of money as long as you manage what you have properly.
Looking back now, it’s crazy to think about all of the lessons waitressing has taught me, both about finance and about life.
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