The sooner you learn how to handle your own money now while on a budget, the sooner you’ll feel more confident when you have a career and more cash flow! Here are some life hacks to help you learn to save money now, to save headaches later!
First things, first
In order to save money, really save money, you have to figure out what you’re spending the little bit of money on that you do have. In order to do this, you could track every dollar that you spend during a particular month. There’s no specific app that I use for this — I just open the notepad on my phone (computer or paper and pen work just fine, too), and when I spend money, I add it to the list. Yes, this means even the $2 I spent at the coffee shop while working. Doing this will help you see how much “extra” money you spend during the month that could be cut out of your spending to help you save money.
If you’re the spreadsheet-lovin’ kind, CollegeinColorado.org has an easy-to-follow spreadsheet you can input your expenses to calculate a budget, or you can download the Excel sheet.
Next, figure out what to cut
Yes, getting your groceries at the new hip organic market is desirable, but do you really need to spend $50 a week on produce all for yourself? If you’re buying your own groceries, look for ways to save money on items without compromising your health. Take a few minutes before you check out your choice store’s website for digital coupons. Stores such as Kroger offer digital coupons that can be sent directly to their rewards card, therefore saving on time spent clipping, and ink spent printing. Win-win. You can put the extra money you didn’t spend on groceries into a savings account.
If you and your girlfriends have a ritual of getting your nails done at a salon, why not spend a few bucks and buy some polish of your own, and spend the time painting each other’s nails, saving you $25 a trip? John Fuller from How Stuff Works offers 10 Tips for Saving Money in College in his April 23, 2014, post:
- Be creative with your leisure time: Be sure to ask if any of the movie theaters, cafes, bars, restaurants, etc., offer student discounts. If you can’t save money there, cut it out of your routine. Take advantage of the student center on campus to view movies or play pool for free.
- Get the right cell phone plan: Still paying over a hundred dollars for your Smartphone’s data plan? Get with the program and join a family/friends plan with your roomies or siblings. Check out the different carriers’ options and find one that fits best. Remember, most companies are offering separate bills for each person on the plan so you’re not responsible for your roomie’s portion of the bill, should he forget to pay.
Finally, really save money you’ve earned
This is possibly the hardest part, but it can be done! If you’re doing everything that you can to cut your budget down, going and spending that extra (hard-earned) saved money on the latest gadget or dress doesn’t really help your cause. Make a plan for what you want to put your money toward and it’ll be easier to save.
For example, Dave Ramsey suggests getting started with saving $1,000 toward an emergency fund. This money can, and should, be used toward car repairs, computer repairs or emergency doctor’s visits, and should be replaced as soon as you dip into it. You can watch the Dave Ramsey “Baby Steps” Money Makeover video on YouTube to get started. Some of those tips might not apply to your situation right now, but it’s a good place to start.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to take a leap into saving money now so that when you’re out of college and working in your career field, you’ll have no regrets on how you spent your college years. Have tips for those in your shoes? Post them below!