We all know surviving on a college budget can be difficult at times. People always joked about the Ramon Noodle college diet and I never believed it until I myself became a student. Personally, I would hate to admit the number of times I have sacrificed grocery money for that Urban top “I just had to have”. I can’t count how many times I’ve received that pesky low balance notification I've come to dread. And because of those notifications, the amount of frozen meals I have consumed while in college is actually shameful.
But this is all part of the “College Experience”. Our parents and elders are correct- this truly is the time for us to figure out who we are and find our independence. With this independence comes the concept of budgeting. Many students receive some assistance from parents while at school, but once we set out into the scary place most of us refer to as “The Real World”, we will be forced to make those tough financial decisions on our own. I know I am slightly fearful of that day of complete responsibility, but I know it will actually be an exciting time we will come to love. So whether you are in college or already in the Real World, to help us all get in the practice of living life on a budget, here is a quick list of helpful tips to live by!
Write out a Budget
This is the best place to start and probably the most essential piece of advice. Getting in the practice of
having an actual concrete budget drawn out each month will do wonders for your future habits. Knowing the exact number you will allot yourself for each spending category will take some trial and error at first. And goodness knows having the self-control to stick by those numbers will take the most practice of all. Start with simply taking note of where all of your money goes each month. Keep track of your receipts and see how much they sum up to. You will start to realize where you should have spent less and where you wish you had more, and then write your budget from there. The vast majority of adults live by some sort of budget, and college is the perfect time for that practice to start. Hopefully with this, the goal of no more low balance notifications will be met! (Visit this blog for a FREE budget worksheet to get started)
Discounts are our friends
It’s crazy how many discounts are offered all around us without us even realizing. I’ll admit, I used to think scrambling around for coupons was outdated and time consuming. But it is totally worth it at times! Even combing through the ones they hand you with your receipt at the grocery store is a great start. Trust me, you will actually feel a sense of pride when you are able to save even just a few extra dollars at the grocery check out line. Groupon is also an incredible site for deals, especially when you go in on them with friends!
Don’t stray from the grocery list
This seems like a strange one, but how many times have you taken your routine trip to the grocery store and ended up with an excessive amount of food due to being hungry while shopping? A grocery list is essentially a mini-budget to help avoid those all too common impulsive purchases we end up regretting and possibly even throwing away. Rather than strolling the aisles and grabbing whatever seems right at the time, have your list ready. This will save you a substantial amount of money over time and make those times when we “treat ourselves” to something fun or expensive all the more worth it.
Thrifting is Trendy
In case you didn’t realize, or the trend hasn’t hit your neck of the woods yet, thrifting is becoming more and more popular. Now I’m not suggesting you buy your entire wardrobe there if that is not a necessity. But my friends and I can’t seem to get enough of Goodwill’s multitude of flannels. Add a little spice to your wardrobe or even bring back a former trend by checking out your local thrift shops. I promise you will appreciate sifting through the racks to find some hidden gems and you most certainly won’t mind the price tag! Want even more tips on thrifting? Visit our blogger friend at Already Pretty for more info.
Buying books is overrated
Amazon has become my love these past few semesters, and not just because of its plethora of handbags. I finally realized renting is an incredible thing when it comes to books [ and dresses of course :) ]. We all know no one ever wants to see most of our textbooks by the end of the semester anyway. Renting saved me over $100 this past semester and it is convenient and simple. Renting in general has become popular in many industries and will continue to do so. Don’t let the expenses of books bog you down, and don’t be afraid to research cheaper options!
Set aside emergency money
This is one thing you will never regret. Setting aside emergency money could save you from a messy situation or allow you to go to a random weekend concert on a whim. Setting aside money that you deem “untouchable” is also a great habit to get into. It will also keep away the stress of your bank account from ever falling to zero.
We hope these money saving tips will help you get you on track to living your life on a budget.