January 7, 2015 (original post here)
We’ve all joked about college students being poor and living off of cup noodles, but let’s be real. We are poor. Some of us work our butts off to make enough money to support our lifestyle, pay for the necessities, and have enough left over to have fun. We want to be able to do it all, and we try to make enough money to support it, but at the end of the day, we still don’t really have enough left over. I’m not the best at saving money, but here are some things I do to save up for things I want.
- Track your spending habits and budget: When you want to save up for something, you need to figure out exactly what you spend your money on. A great website that I’ve used is Mint. You can connect your bank account to it and it’ll track the different categories that you spend your money on, like food, gas, shopping, etc. Once you’re able to see the areas that you spend the most money in, then you can see where you can cut down and instead save it. Through Mint you can also set up a budget for yourself and get alerted when you are close to reaching your budget and when you go over your budget. By knowing what your budget is, you’ll be more aware of what you’re purchasing.
- Keep a piggy bank: Yes, you read that right. Keeping a piggy bank, or any type of container to hold your money, is a good way of tracking your progress, but most importantly getting rid of your spare change. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save up over time. I personally have a type of coin bank that will keep track of how much money is in the container whenever I put in coins. I was surprised that I was able to collect over $100.
- Make long-term investments: If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from being a business major is that, it’s important to think about the long-term. What will help you save money for the long term? For example, I just invested in a Keurig. I’m a big Starbucks junkie (that’s not an exaggeration) and I could easily drop $25-$30 a week in there. So in a month I can spend anywhere from $90-$120 at Starbucks. My new Keurig was about $110 and a 12 pack of K-cups was $10. So I invested about a month’s worth of Starbucks into something that will help me save more money over time. In a month, I would’ve saved enough to make up for my initial investment, and I’ll be spending about $20 a month for the K-cup refills. That’s close to $70 I’ll be saving a month, just by purchasing a Keurig. It’s crazy to think how much money I’ll be saving.
- Eat at home: It’s not always easy to eat at home. It can be extremely time consuming and sometimes you just want something quick that you can pick up on the go. However, eating out can add up and although it may seem like buying groceries is more expensive than eating out, when you do the math, it actually becomes a lot cheaper. If you were to go out and order a simple dish like a chicken fettuccine alfredo, it could cost you anywhere from $12-15. If you were to go out and buy all the ingredients, you could spend about $10 or maybe a little more or less; per serving it would be $2 or so depending on how much each person eats. Also, when you purchase your groceries, you can sign up for the store’s reward card which allows you to get discounts and you can also save up points or money (i’m not sure which one) and use it towards your gas. Vons, for exaple, is partnered with Chevron, so if you use your rewards card there you can save some money on gas.
- Do the money saving challenge: These are also really good, especially if you like to see progress ASAP. Now, you may be wondering, what is the money saving challenge? The one that I’m thinking about is simple. Get a container or piggy bank and you can either print out a simple checklist or keep a paper in there to keep track of when you put in your money and how much. Here’s the challenge, on the first day start with any amount you want to put in. It can be $1, $2, $5, $10, etc., on the next day you put in double the amount, and on the first day you put in triple your original amount, then you keep going until the end of the month. At the end of the month you can purchase something that you really wanted, or you can put it in your checking/savings account.
These are some simple tips you can do to help save some money. It’s also a good idea to start saving while you’re in college, that way you’ll have something left in your bank to fall back on just in case. However, these tips are’t just for college students, they can help you save money now and it’s great if you’re just starting to save some money.
What are some of the things you do to save money? How do you cut down costs? Let me know in the comments below!