As college students, the time is NOW more than ever to start having good spending habits. For many, college is the first time that we start making consistent money, so it is the first time we really have to budget and save our money. We don’t have our parents overlooking us reminding us what we should spend our money on or not, and for the most part that freedom is refreshing. However, what is not refreshing is being broke and having debt. I agree that as a college student it is difficult to make a solid income with limited hours. Some college students are working at unpaid internships to gain experience, but that cannot pay for the groceries. Or, like me, I work 16-20 hours a week during much of my free time, but the money still is not substantial.
I think college is one of the most important times to start good money habits. These good habits will become so crucial when we are propelled into the real world. When bills, rent, and college loans start to accumulate, we will be more accustomed on how to tackle them. Financial instability can bring too much stress and headache, so it is much better to avoid that at all costs! After reading, Robert Kiyosaki’s, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and attending a financial seminar, I realized our path to financial freedom and independence starts much earlier than we realize. It starts now!
8 Ways to Save In College
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1. Know the Bigger Picture-
Saving can be difficult because we don’t always know why we are saving. It seems unnecessary unless you have a big purchase or idea in mind. For me, I save because I want to be financially independent and wealthy. It seems broad and maybe even distant, but thats the point– its not distant. The earlier we start spending wisely, the closer we are to our financial freedom. I want to save now so I can be debt free by 25, and by 30 I can have a strong financial foundation to support myself, my travels, and a family. Growing up in a lower middle class family has made me grounded, but it also pushed me to not make finances a burden to my family. The more I save now and put towards my college loans, the less I have to worry later.
2. Bring Lunch/ Cook-
For many college students, most of our money goes to food. From day to day it seems trivial, but by the end of the week, to our surprise, most of our check is gone. And the culprit is food! We love convenience, I love convenience! But, its costing us a bundle. As a commuter, I have started to bring big lunch bags of food everyday. And, don’t let the word “lunch box” fool you, because inside can house breakfast, lunch, dinner, and some snacks. Yes, some days, I bring a full days’ worth of food, and I do not spend a dime. Preparation is key to making this work, but once you have a routine that works for you, I promise it will save you so much money! We can easily spend $8-$20 a day on food, and by the end of the work week, we have nothing to show for our hard work except for the food in our bellies. I usually, set one or two days a week, Friday or Saturday, in which I allow myself to buy food as a treat. Like I said, we all appreciate a little convenience.
3. Limit Hair and Nail Trips- Do it Yourself
Yep, I’ve said it! I know many females love to treat themselves to a nice mani/pedi or hair appointment. I get it, I love to do those things too, but trust me when I say this takes so much of our money. You can easily spend about $40-60 on your nails biweekly or $100 on your hair. I personally choose, to limit my hair and nail appointments and do it myself. I actually don’t do anything to my nails, and each New Year I promise myself to keep color on my nails but I always fall short :(. Anyway, I have a few friends who religiously do their own nails every weekend, and it looks great!
4. Learn How To Say No/ Stop Trying To Impress People
In college, especially freshman year, everyone is new to each other and everyone wants to impress each other. I have learned it is OKAY to say no to going out to eat or an expensive night out. Honestly, if your friends will look at you differently because you don’t want to go shopping with them or you say no to going out to eat, then they’re not your friends. Trust me, I actually love to go out to eat with friends, but I know when its time to cut back or just buy an appetizer. My friends appreciate my honesty.
5. Have More Indoor Relaxing Chill Nights
One way my friends and I have found ways to still enjoy ourselves, but for less money is to stay inside. You spend so much more going out to eat and purchasing drinks, then staying inside and buying a bottle of wine. I usually have so much fun on chill nights inside with my friends. Have a Girls Night In!
6. Pretend That You Make Much Less Than You Do
This one is for yourself. Usually, we know we make “x” amount of money so we spend “x” amount of money. I promise the more you tell yourself you actually do not make that much, and you spend way below your means, it actually becomes a reality. Don’t see your entire paycheck as the amount you can spend in the next week or 2 weeks before your next paycheck. Create a list of needs and wants, or responsibilities and wants, and allocate the money you need for your responsibilities. That money is the most important, and the access money should be used wisely.
7. Save A Percentage Of Your Check Before You Spend It
This point really helps with point 6 because if you relocate your money immediately, then it will actually look like you make less than you do. For me, I have a Chase Savings and Chase Checkings account, which helps me immensely. I usually have my checks direct deposited into my Checkings account, and right after it hits, I will transfer a portion into my Savings account. Chase makes this transfer really easy. I don’t have an exact percentage that I save, but for newbies even starting with 10% is adequate and better than nothing.
Read more of my financial tips on saving and investing. Here…
8. Carefully Use Credit Cards
I opened a Discover Student Account about a little more than a year ago to start building my credit. I like my credit card as oppose to my debit card because I want to build my credit and the cash back bonuses. Also, sometimes I do prefer to use credit and pay later. However, credit cards can be sticky situations if you don’t use it responsibly. Basically, if spend more than you can pay back in a timely fashion. My older sister always reminds me to only use credit if I know I can pay it back in full! If you get stuck only paying the minimum each month and you continue to make purchases, your minimum can rise and interest will accrue. We don’t want to pay more in the long run because of interest. That money could go to something else!
The key is to build good money habits, and to spend wisely. However, it is important to note that this does not mean you can never enjoy certain things that make you happy. I love to dress up and go out with friends, and enjoy a day of pampering as well, but not every weekend. Moderation is key. Save Now. Enjoy Later.