It’s a well-known fact that most college students do not know how to spend money efficiently. Don’t believe me? How many times have you went out to eat in the past month? How many times do you go out to Starbucks to grab coffee? How many times have you used some of your paycheck to pay off your student loan? I rest my case.
Why is it so hard for us young adults to make wiser choices in spending and saving money? It’s because most of us are used to having our parents help us out financially. But now that we are getting older, it’s time to grow up and start making smarter decisions regarding our money. And here’s how!
You may feel that in order to fit in, you have to hang around with people that are Greek (or are cheerleaders or go to a new club every weekend). If you had no intention of joining a sorority, don’t join it just because your roommate Sally is doing it. Greek organizations are well known for their structure and relationships they build, and frankly, neither of those come for free.
Find out if you need a meal plan or not.
Most colleges like my own find easy ways to rip students off by requiring them to have a meal plan. So if that’s you, then skip to the next step (although I’ve read that you can finagle your way out of a meal plan by having your doctor write a “dietary note” for you and giving it to meal services.) However, if you have a choice to meal plan or not to meal plan, there are always pros and cons. You have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons. Bottom line is if you decide you need/have to get a meal plan: use it and get your money’s worth out of it.
Learn how to cook.
Even if you decide to stick with a meal plan, you’re eventually going to learn that it’s not the most cost-efficient way to spend money on food. You must learn how to cook.
If you’re still in high school or living at home, watch your parents in the kitchen when they cook. Start offering your helping hand if you don’t already. If your parents don’t cook, take advantage of online recipe books like Allrecipies.com or even Youtube and Pinterest. Both are great ways to discover tasty dishes with easy-to-follow directions. Because what’s cooking but just following directions?
If you’re in college, find friends that do know how to cook, join a cooking club, go to events that teach you how to make certain foods and utilize Pinterest and Youtube!
Commit to a saving schedule/budget.
Here are a few savings strategies that I have come across over the years:
- Save 10 dollars every paycheck.
- Keep every $5 bill you come across and stash it in your piggy bank. Every month, you can record how much you saved and then try to match that or do better next month (but do not buy stuff just to get a $5 bill as change, cheaters!)
- Save an extra dollar every week. This one requires a lot more self-discipline. Essentially what you are doing is setting a certain time period—say, 5 months. For every week, you will add an additional dollar to your piggy bank. So the first week, you will donate 1 dollar, the 2nd, 2 dollars, 30th 30 dollars, and so on until you reach your 5 months, and then you start over. If you REALLY want to save money, keep this up for an entire year!
There are probably several other saving plans out there. In order to reap the benefits of them you have to take it slow and do one that’s feasible for you. It’s like exercising: no novice is gonna start off lifting 500lb weights. Work your way up.
Related: 5 Apps to Save You Money in College
Institute a “no buy week” once a month.
This was a recent tip I learned in a class at school. I found it funny that it was a tip because I probably have months when I don’t buy anything because I hate spending money. But starting off with a week is definitely feasible. It means no going out to eat, no movie tickets, no haircuts, no coffee, no alcohol, not even gas. For only one week? You know you can do it.
When you go shopping, make a list and check it twice.
You’ve gotta be like Santa Clause and double check that you put EVERYTHING you need on that list, because once you’re in the store, you can only buy things on that list! See some gum near the checkout aisle? Is it on your list? You remembered you needed new headphones. Is it on your list?
The idea is, if you really needed it, you would have put it on your list! Yay for prioritizing.
And if you do find something at the store that you knooowww you want and would use and would sacrifice a lamb just to have it, don’t buy it just yet (unless it’s milk. Everyone always forgets milk). Instead, write it down on a separate list. The next time you go shopping, start building off of that list and ask yourself if you still want/need it (Thank you, Pinterest for the tip!).
I know there are some of you that cling to brands as if they were paying for your tuition. You can’t live without your Ralph Lauren’s or Nike’s or Uggs or Victoria Secret’s. Well, with thrifting, you don’t really have to. There are lots of treasures hidden in thrift stores just waiting to be claimed.
And if you’ve been thrifting before and hated it, try going to a different store. I remember going to a Goodwill for the first time and the clothes smelt like incense and I felt homeless. Not all thrift stores are built the same! Try a Goodwill at a different location, or even a Salvation Army. Plenty of YouTuber have hauls from these stores and look absolutely fab with the designer clothes they got for almost nothing.
Blossom is a blogger, YouTuber, African dancer, opera singer, but most importantly, a creativist. As a college student, she started her own blog to escape the monotonous world of specialized studying. She loves the idea of becoming a jack of all trades and excelling in not just one subject. You can learn more about her at blossomthecreativist.com, watch her on YouTube, follow her on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.