The issue of spending and saving money sometimes causes a lot of anxiety. Most often, this anxiety kicks off, or intensifies in college. Money seems to never be enough, and often quickly elapses with no savings to fall back on.
Setting priorities can also seem difficult. These are quite relatable.
The topic of saving and money management oftentimes receives pushback from many college students. In the best case scenario, it is approached with a slight displeasure. However, saving does not have to be the daunting task it is seen as and painted to be.
Think of saving as a pathway to financial security both in college and after college. Set clear goals, remain conscious of why you are saving (purpose), and take it one step at a time.
Largely, the relevancy of saving heightens in college. Here, the need to adequately manage your finances increases at every point. There could sometimes be a lack of motivation or guidance on how to go about saving, but that's fine! If you currently find saving difficult or burdensome, and need some guidance, keep reading as I walk you through 18 doable and practical tips for saving effectively in college, whilst having fun and enjoying your college days.
1. Make a budget:
Budgeting is simply allocating money to expenses based on the income/allowance you have at a particular time. It is outlining the quantities of goods or items to be purchased, and keeping track of your spending, ensuring you do not spend outside of the estimated amount recorded.
There is such an exciting, powerful feeling attached to committing to a budget, and achieving those financial goals. Budgeting doesn't have to be mundane and hectic. Approach this activity with the knowledge that you are creating for yourself, a path to financial growth and success, as budgeting helps you save and spend strategically.
Make a budget of your weekly or monthly spending, and at the end of each milestone, check in to see if you are on the right track. As a reminder, endeavour to allocate some amount for saving to your budget list. Sites like EveryDollar and Mint help you budget and keep track of your spending efficiently. Good luck with budgeting!
2. Avoid Impulse buying:
We are all guilty of impulse buying. We all every now and then buy things we never budgeted for. But impulse buying is one of the fastest ways to go broke.
Try to pause and refer to your budget or make mental calculations to determine if that thing fits into your budget. Would it affect your spending limit? Is it even worth it? Challenge your desires with these questions.
One way to curb impulse buying is to allocate an amount every once in a while for some fun and enjoyment, or to get the things you admire. This easily curbs the temptation to purchase things that seem fancy, simply because you never give yourself any form of luxury. Your body and mind can always tell when they've been deprived of their cravings for too long. Be fair to yourself.
3. Cook your meals/Utilize meal plans:
A day without eating out will make you realize how much you can save daily. Cooking does not need to be such a hassle. Learn to cook easy, quick meals, before proceeding to more complicated meals.
Spend a lot of time on YouTube watching food channels. Specifically, look out for channels that offer quick, easy recipes.Try cooking two meals at most a day, for a week, and at the end of that week, make a rundown of your food expenses. You'll see how much cheque you've saved.
Also, if there is a meal plan system in your college, you can sign up for your on-campus meal plan. Pick out a plan you can afford, and be careful that your money doesn't go to waste by actually utilizing it. A meal plan is surely more cost-effective than regularly eating out. Plus, it allows you to engage with peers.
4. Download and use a saving app:
I personally find saving apps very convenient. It reminds me of saving in the old days, where people saved money in tightly locked containers to avoid the temptations that come with keeping money in easily penetrable places.
Money saving apps help you save and improve your finances. Some saving apps enable you to lock your money away for a certain period of time (dictated by you) and do not let you withdraw until the due date. Some other apps let you withdraw at any point in time.
If you're looking to setting strict saving goals, I'd advise you to use a savings app that gives you the option to keep it locked until the due date. Also, when saving, look out for apps that come with good interest rates. A few apps that offer interest are; Qapital, Digit, and Piggyvest.
5. Minimize your textbook expenses:
Textbooks can sometimes feed heavily on your finances. If you're actively trying to save money, you can start purchasing used textbooks on sites like Chegg, ThriftBooks or AbeBooks etc. You could equally rent textbooks from Amazon Textbook Rental or borrow from a friend.
Additionally, if a textbook is not all-important, there is no need to purchase it; be it rented, used, or brand new. Do not succumb to the pressure of buying textbooks incessantly.
6. Sell already used or faulty gadgets/electronics, and add money to get new ones:
There is no point in owning more than one gadget of a particular kind, when only one is really in use. Instead of retaining an old or slightly faulty gadget that you rarely use and going over to get a new one from scratch, sell the old one and add money for a new one. That way, you get to save a few bucks.
While saving, you need to remember that "every penny counts". Small amounts add up to something greater in the end.
7. Prioritize school:
Enjoying your money's worth is another way to save money, and ensure your money(fees) is not wasted. Attending classes, studying, passing courses, and avoiding having to pay more money for courses revisited or for an extra year, are all the ways you can save money in college.
8. Do not own a car:
There's quite a lot involved in maintaining a car. Money spent on insurance, car repairs, and gas, add up to a considerable amount. Utilize subsidized college buses, get in a friend's car, or use paid transport. These may not seem like the luxury you crave, but they save you a good amount of money, and are more sustainable than checking in and out of gas stations and car repair shops, distressed.
9. Look out for discounts:
You may want to be a little more patient and purchase items during the festive seasons, or holidays where vendors offer discounts. Always be on the look out to buy things at slashed prices. Whenever you need to purchase an item, check out first, if there are any student discounts. A little 10% or 15% discount is a blessing!
10. Live close to school:
If you must live far away from home, then get a place that is close to school. Ensure the place is a walkable distance from school, and/or goes with minimal transportation costs. If you have the chance to live with your parents, and the distance does not bring any discomfort, do so!
It's always great to get out and experience life away from family sometimes, but, the truth is, if you are thinking of cost, you may want to wait a bit. There is plenty of time to get out and be alone.
11. Split rent with a roommate(s):
Get someone (or people) you think you can share a room with, ensure you come to a mutual agreement with whoever it is, on how the cost of rent and utilities will be divided between you two. It is always advisable to get a roommate that is reliable, trustworthy, and willing to split the bills, so you don't end up always having to bear the costs alone.
12. Start a side hustle/get a part-time job:
What interests you? What can you do and get paid for, while still focusing on school and making it a priority? Starting a side hustle or getting a job affords you some income every now and then.
That way, you get to save even more money than you would have if you only relied on a monthly allowance. How fun does that sound? By the time you're done with college, you'll have a substantial amount of money in your account. It gives a sense of security and makes you feel less like you are starting from scratch.
A few hustle ideas will be; blogging, babysitting, freelance writing for blogs and businesses, starting a YouTube channel, dog walking etc. Try to find what works for you and do it well!
13. Buy in bulk:
Not only does this prevent you from making frequent trips to the store and market, which on its own is expensive, it also saves you a great deal of money on shopping items. Buying household items like detergents and toilet paper, in bulk, is much cheaper than having to get them one at a time .
When it comes to food, buying in bulk allows you to prep your meals better. That way, you're not eating more than you should. Whereas, buying frequently may mean getting food impulsively, which always ends up being more expensive.
14. Keep understanding friends:
Let's be real, friends sometimes play a big role in determining what turn our finances take. Keep friends who understand when your finances are not exactly buzzing, when you pick a movie night with homemade snacks over going to movie theatres and paying for overpriced snacks. Keep one or two friends who you can talk about your financial goals with (at least some of them) and have them cheer you on, and not pressure you into overspending. Friends who will buy into your budget-friendly ideas.
15. Leverage campus amenities:
This is a wise money-saving move. If your school has useful amenities or offers free services on things you are interested in, leverage them. They were put in there for you.
If there are washing machines on campus, use them. If there's a gym at school, there is no need to pay for gym membership. Similarly, utilize the library at school.
All you need to do is flash your ID and you will be granted access. Plus, you have access to a wide array of books. If you like, you can rent a book or two. This also saves you from spending money buying.
16. Take student loans responsibly:
Do not take out a loan except you absolutely need to. Loans can be quite a burden, and so you should have a good reason why you are taking them, and try to pay them off when you can so that they don't accumulate. Also, avoid taking out a student loan for anything unrelated to school.
17. Learn accountability/self-restraint measures:
You need to invent creative ways to keep yourself in check, to stay accountable and disciplined. For instance, if you budgeted $30 on a monthly data subscription, and you spent beyond this amount, you could then decide to take out the least important thing on your list to make up for your previous splurge. This is a way to create balance in your budget. This single act will keep you accountable and help to rein in your extravagant desires going forward.
18. Don't be too hard on yourself.
Don't sweat it. Have fun. Hang out with friends.
Saving does not have to be "pressure". Always make reference to your income while saving. Don't strain yourself by trying to save more than your weekly or monthly income allows.
Pressure makes you give up along the way, and that is not the goal. It's easier to save when you approach it with ease. Too much pressure makes saving feel like a herculean task, and this shouldn't be so.
Budget, treat yourself, make self-care a priority. Finally, when the act of saving starts to feel toxic, step away for a while, rejuvenate, and plan. Wish you luck on your saving journey!