Bank account getting uncomfortably low? It happens. Tuition and fees, parking passes, textbooks, a new backpack, clothes, toiletries, storage solutions are just a few items on a college student’s long list of expenses.
A new semester is about to start and as exciting as Back-To-School-Shopping is, the dwindling numbers on your bank statement are not.
Finding a middle balance splurging and spending is difficult, but not impossible. It all boils down to finding the perfect method and knowing exactly where your money goes. Here’s why, looking at the biggest expenses made can be the starting point to begin saving.
The first step to saving is examining current expenses and there are multiple tools to help the process.
Different apps for smartphones allow users to set a personalized budget and track how their money is used, like Mint. Another, perhaps simpler, option is keeping an Excel spreadsheet and updating it as you make purchases. Even using a notebook and pen to track purchases can make a difference.
Sit down for a little while on Sunday evening and update your purchase log. Do this on a weekly basis, and after a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to tell where your money is going and determine where you might need to cut back.
A college student’s largest expenses tend to be food and clothing, along with the occasional impulse buy. These areas are relatively easy to target.
Are you eating out for more than one meal a day? Buying coffee every day? Maybe you’ve noticed one too many trips to your favorite store or bought a new pair of headphones you refuse to use because you don’t want to break them. These expenditures may seem consequential, but they add up.
When it comes to meals, spending money cannot be avoided. After all, the human body needs sustenance. So how to tackle this problem? Simple. If you’re eating out for every single meal, look at your schedule and determine where a home-cooked meal could replace eating at a restaurant. A $60 grocery trip might seem like too much at first, but if you’re spending at least $20 daily on food, by Sunday the $60 grocery trip won’t look as bad as the $140 spent eating out.
Next, the reason many students actually get out of bed in the morning: coffee. Getting that perfectly prepared drink from Starbucks is great. There’s no work involved, just delicious coffee. However, that one drink a day for at least $2 adds up to at least $60.00 at the end of the month. Investing in a coffee maker might be a good decision. The coffee will always be to your taste, it’ll be cheaper in the long run and you’ll have one fewer stop to make on the way to work or class. You can always treat yourself to your favorite drink every once in a while.
Items worth splurging on are wardrobe pieces that stand the test of time – staple pieces. You can find great deals in the summer, as many stores are trying to clear out their inventory. If you have a passion for fashion, then know your needs. If your part-time or full-time job has a specific dress code, invest in pieces that you can wear both to work and on days off. Figure out what is worth splurging on based on your lifestyle and try to save on the areas that are not worth the splurge.
Ultimately, look at where you’re spending your money and be honest with yourself. You don’t have to give up brands or the quality you love. All you’re doing is finding the middle ground that’ll give you breathing room to spend more on some items and have enough saved for emergency expenses.
Setting a game plan and sticking to it will make a difference. Learning where to save and where to splurge will give you flexibility and will save you hard-earned cash.