Saving as a Student: The Challenge
If faced with a choice to save five dollars or buy a cup of coffee, chances are most people would spend the money on the drink.
And that situation is not isolated!
As consumers in market economies, our daily lives are filled with moments when we have to decide between saving and spending. Everywhere we go, we see advertisements, vendors, and stores that all want our attention and money – money that, more often than not, should stay in our bank accounts.
Money saving tips for college students
Now, I don’t claim to have the secret to ‘easy saving’. No matter what you do, you’ll always be tempted by what’s on the market and to purchase this thing or that thing. And sometimes, it’s not a bad thing to spend some money on yourself!
But I HAVE figured out a few tips and tricks that have helped me navigate the saving seas and I want to share them with you.
Saving as a student is a unique conflict.
As an undergraduate, like myself, you’re often strapped for cash and don’t have consistent and cheap options for food (unless your college provides a stable meal plan).
Money saving plan for students
On top of that, your position as a student also means that you’re most likely unable to take up a full-time job. Even if students do find jobs on and off-campus, they then have to confront the challenge of paying for textbooks and other necessities. This is all not to mention every student’s individual financial circumstances – and it can be very stressful.
So, what do you do when you have a low (or no) stream of income and you spend most of your week in class? How to create a student budget?
#1: Take a Money Minute
One thing anyone can do, regardless of their financial situation, is start taking daily Money Minutes.
I got this idea from Jessi Fearon over at her blog and it’s helped me get a hold on my spending and take control of my finances! The idea is simple, too – all you do is take 60 seconds every day to look through your spending so you can find out just exactly where your money is going.
While simple, this budgeting trick pays off in spades. If you want to learn more about it, check out my other post on my experience with the philosophy!
Once I used the Money Minute to figure out my spending, I was able to better control where my money went and when. Doing that allowed me to divert some of my money to savings and still have cash leftover for personal use.
While I was tempted to misuse my money as before, my daily Money Minute helped me come to grips with my spending. Instead of spending cash on a daily coffee as I did before, I started allocating a portion of my paychecks to a savings account that I left essentially untouched (except for emergencies!).
And I learned how to save it!
#2: Scheduling Savings
And that leads me to my second tip: ALWAYS allocate a portion of your paychecks (if you receive any) to savings.
No matter how small the amount, it’s important to get over the saving hump and to just start putting money in the bank. It may not seem like much at the beginning, but the money really starts to accumulate – especially if you’re responsible and you leave it untouched!
Having that cushion to fall back on has given me an amazing sense of security. Of course, I’m always tempted to dip into my savings and splurge on some food or cool new gadget, but I’ve become much better at controlling my spending habits and keeping my bank account in check.
#3: Drink Water
Say “No!” to unnecessary spending!
My final tip? Switch to drinking ONLY water. Or at least, MAINLY water.
Sounds crazy, right? Hear me out.
A few months ago, when using one of my daily Money Minutes to analyze my spending habits, I noticed that I had spent more than half of that quarter’s paycheck on various drinks and concessions – bubble tea, soda, coffee, and kombucha, just to name a few! In fact, of all my spending during that quarter, I found that money spent on drinks accounted for nearly half of all my money gone!
It was a classic mistake every student makes: “Oh, soda’s only $3? I’ll buy one.” That decision ultimately compounds over the next few weeks until you’re looking at your bank records, wondering where nearly $100 disappeared to!
After discovering my poor habit, I switched to drinking only water, which helped me save a good deal of money, and improve my health at the same time!
The bottom line for all of these tips is that it’s often extremely hard to be responsible with your money.
We live in a society that encourages us to spend, spend, spend. It’s important for you to take control of your finances and build up some savings, and that can be especially hard if you’re a student.
Hopefully, these tips help you take up the challenge and give you some more ideas for your financial wellness and healthy spending!