Saving Money in College
This article is not aimed towards tuition costs, housing costs, lab fees, or other college related expenses. Instead, we are going to worry about your day-to-day spending, and to save wherever you can.
Categorize, Organize, Prioritize
This is step one of keeping cash where it belongs, in your wallet. It is easily remembered as COP. It’s a good way to police your spending.
- List things in your life that cost money as:
◦ Needs – can not function without.
◦ Wants – not necessary, but important to you.
- Rescan your list, and place $ amounts next to them.
- List things in order of:
◦ Highest on List – Most Important.
◦ Lowest on List – Least Important.
One may think that the wants category should be empty. To say that one wants nothing is absurd. Wants shouldn’t be viewed as selfish indulgences, but more as goals to work towards and treat yourself to. That being said, keep this list realistic, and on your person at all times. There is no telling when you may see something to add, or a reason to remove something. The best method is to utilize what everyone already carries around at all times…your cell phone. Use either an app or a draft text message. The hope is that writing everything down will help you realize where the money is going and what can be cut out of the spending process.
Determination, Determination, Determination
This is the only logical next step. You have to keep your list up to date. Remove one time costs as they are paid for, add things to the list in moderation, and manage your money. A good practice is to carry a minimum amount of money with you at all times, and never let yourself spend so much as to go below this minimum. You’ll feel such a sense of accomplishment from this, that you’ll want to increase the amount over time, which means you’ll have saved more!
- Use a campus meal plan as much as possible, it’s a waste otherwise to pay separate for food.
- Find out if you have to pay for entrance to a club and drinks. Then think, is it worth it?
- Find free alternatives. Make presents instead of buying them, get a game of frisbee together, take a romantic walk in the park with your significant other instead of shelling out 10 bucks for a movie.
- Take advantage of free food. Many activities will offer food as an enticement.
Credit card companies prey on students. They know you will be an impulse spender. They are also confident that your parents are good for the debt you run up. Here is some guidance for credit cards:
- Don’t have a credit card. Use a debit card instead. Your parents can limit what amount of money to put on the card each month.
- Keep the debit card in your room. That way you won’t use it for impulse purchases.
Campus newspapers will run coupon editions. These are especially helpful for going out expenses. Also take advantage of websites that offer coupons. Websites such as coupons.com and smartsource.com allow you to print multiple copies of grocery store coupons allowing you to save money on things like snacks and bathroom essentials..