You hear about it all the time, college students have no money. They can’t go anywhere, or do anything because they either have little or no money at all. Coming out ahead while in college is possible, it’s not about spending, it’s about spending wisely.
Become a smart shopper. Stop being so brand loyal when you go shopping. Sometimes, I understand that you must have one certain brand of a certain product, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy brand name products all across the board. You’ll save several dollars a month by eliminating brand name products. Secondly, compare prices and shop ahead of time by checking out those weekly sales papers if possible. Decide where the best prices are and do most of your shopping there, head to another store if you have to finish as long as the prices are cheaper. Secondly, don’t buy things that are used once only to be thrown away later. Stay away from buying paper plates, cups, and forks. Stick with the washable stuff. Buy a cheap bottle of dish washing liquid and wash your dishes when you use them. You won’t be out money for paper items that you use only to throw away, or dishes that sit around taking up space because they’re not used.
Clip Coupons. The saying says that to make money, you have to spend money, so spend a little extra money each Sunday and buy the Sunday Paper. The Sunday paper is usually loaded with coupons of all kinds, from grocery items to personal care products. Take about a half hour or longer to look through them all and cut out the ones that you can use. Organize them into expiration dates if you want too that way you can keep track of what you must use first. Then, before going shopping, make a shopping list and lay out all the coupons that you can use during your shopping trip. Now, you can watch your savings grow.
Avoid long shopping trips. Longer amounts of time spent in the store almost guarantee you’ll end up buying what you do not intend to. If you go out and think you may be tempted, take only a few dollars with you, and leave the bulk in your room. That way, you won’t be able to spend as much money while out. You’ll be limited to what you have in your pocket.
Avoid shopping when you are hungry. This really goes without saying. When you’re hungry, you’ll just end up buying way more food than you intended. If food wasn’t the reason why you went shopping, you’ll end up coming home with food anyway, and in reality, the food wasn’t really needed. Only go shopping after you’ve had a good meal.
Avoid shopping with ‘big spenders’. These people may try and tempt you into large purchases, or purchases you didn’t intend to buy. You may only go shopping to browse, but once you see the others buying products, you may feel the need to buy something yourself. You could lose a lot of your paycheck this way.
Save all of your change. After every purchase, come back and put your lose change into a container of some sort. This can be a butter container or any spare container you have around. Eventually, this change will begin to add up. Only cash this in once your container is full. This could take weeks, or months depending on what you buy and how often you make purchases. More than likely, once you do cash this in, you’ll have a good $50 or more in your pocket! I know this will definitely come in handy.
Use your school meal plan. Your school meal plan is there for a reason, so you might as well use it. You will save a lot of money this way. Refuse to eat out more than a few times a month. In fact, schedule regular ‘eat out’ days and stick to them monthly. Refuse to eat out other than those days unless you really have too. Only allow for a few flex days a month. This may be hard, depending on how often you normally eat out. It will get easier the longer you stick to your original plan.
Use your resources wisely. When you go to college, relatives are often willing to help. When your birthday comes around, or whenever a major holiday appears, ask them for gift cards to places you normally shop or for care packages. These two items will ensure less spending on your behalf. However, if you receive gift cards, you’ll still have to spend these wisely. Since gift card money isn’t technically your money, you’ll feel more inclined to spend these rashly. Don’t. Use them for what you need, but feel free to splurge on a major item that you’ve always wanted. Care packages are nice because these often come filled with your favorite food which means you won’t have to food shop so often. Secondly, whenever you get a chance to go home, ask mom if you can bring some homemade food with you, I’m sure she won’t say no.
Pick up a job. Now when I say a job, I don’t necessarily mean you have to pick up a regular part time job. I’m talking about doing something on the side, anything to help you earn a little extra cash. You could offer to clean dorm rooms for a flat fee. Most dorm rooms are pretty small so it wouldn’t take more than an hour of your time. You could charge about $10 and have each roommate pay half of the cost. If you clean three of four rooms a week, you’ll have plenty of extra cash around to help pay for expenses. You could also opt to do some babysitting one or two nights a week. Most kids are pretty independent and you wouldn’t have to do more than cook a meal and maybe help a bit with homework. You could still have time to do some of your own work if needed. Any little bit helps.
Set aside a certain amount of money each week. If you receive a steady paycheck, either weekly or bi weekly, you can choose how much money you set aside. You can either place this money into a savings account or purchase a lock box and keep it under your bed. The point here is not to touch the money you set aside. That money will be considered your emergency fund and can only be dipped into when you absolutely need it. You never know what will arise, and having money set aside is nice to have in case you need it.
I know it will be hard to follow these money saving guidelines at first because you’ll want to do things your way, especially depending on how long you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again. I hope these tips help you save some money in the long run. With those student loan payments beginning to add up, and all of those books that you have to buy, you’re going to need some extra cash!