This Goes Out to All My College Students on a Budget
Over the last four years, transition has been an ongoing theme in my life. From high school to college, minimal responsibility to full responsibility and teenager to adult, the late teens and early 20s are so pivotal for change and evolution. Stepping into college my daily was filled with assignments, work, coffee, more assignments, anddddd more coffee. As time went on, more things were thrown into the mix. I got an apartment, my parents kicked me off their phone plan, I got a car, etc. All these changes meant one thing, bills. I will keep it 100 with you all. I don't come from money, I can't run to mommy and daddy for everything and relying on others to do what I can do for myself has never been my forte. So, what did I do? I buckled down and did what I had to to get through. If you're struggling to keep money in the bank or keeping up with your bills in college trust me when I say I feel you and I got you. Here are some tips to help you with saving and expanding your money!
1. The Parties and Bars Will Always Be There
My freshman year, I went from one extreme to the another. My parents were very strict with how I spent my time in high school and I had limited freedom so when I got to college I had all this freedom to go out, drink, party, etc. I took advantage of it to the fullest, honey. When I tell you I was out every weekend with the bottles. YA GIRL WAS LIT... and broke. I was steady working a desk job on campus because I had no car to be traveling elsewhere. So, I would spend all my money on party tickets and alcohol or food. Typical college student expenditures but the parties will always be there so yes go out, have fun, experience life but it will not hurt you to stay in a weekend or two trust me when I tell you. You will save so much money because once you go out a whole bunch what else do you have to worry about? AN OUTFIT duh, sis. Which just means more money spent when you could be saving.
2. Rih Rih Said It Best: WORK WORK WORK
Unless your parents pretty much kicked you out on your ass. If you are taking care of yourself in college you have probably had a job since high school. I have been employed since I was 14 years old. My momma was not having it. So, for me having job was a no brainer but as the responsibilities added up so did the hours. Make sure your income matches your bills and spending habits. I don't really shop that much. It honestly irritates me to have to buy new clothes because it's a whole lot of energy to find the right fit then try it on and all that mess. My problem... FOOD. I spend 75% of my spending money on food. So, I make sure I pick up an extra few shifts at work for when I want to go out to brunch with my girls and have a good time I am able to.
3. Know Your Monthly Budget and Prioritize Your Expenses
At the beginning of each month I write down all the bills I have due. I set a spending budget for the essentials food, gas and miscellaneous expenses. Everything else gets saved. Even if that amounts to five dollars per week saving some is better than none and remember you are still in college we have all had those moments where the account has been overdrawn or you have literally a dollar to your name. I have also been doing this for four years now so I have it down to a science don't be afraid of trial and error! Different people have different things going on in their life and have to adjust accordingly so just keep trying new ways to save.
4. When You Do Go Out, Set A Spending Limit
In the past, when I would go out I would just grab my card, my id and my phone and keep it pushing but I would get swipe happy and become Oprah with the drinks so he, she, it, we, they would all get a drink and in the morning I would be crying because my account would be on E. Now, when I step out I bring cash. Normally, if I am going out to the bars $20 will suffice for my evenings but it all depends on where I'm going and how my spending budget is for the month so sometimes I just bring $10 if the funds are low or if I'm feeling good I'll bring $30 but that is my max. Doing this puts restrictions on my spending and I have saved so much heartache when looking at my bank account from doing this technique.
5. When Eating Out Get A Portion That Will Last You Two Meals
I have cut back a ton of eating out recently for health reasons but if you tend to eat out a bunch. Order something that heats up well and you can stretch for one more meal. This will save you another trip out and money on a whole other meal. If you have a 9-5 and go out to dinner save some of that pasta, boo. Bring it for lunch tomorrow, it will be way better than those 99 cent ramen noodles you'll have to buy after you drop $40 on dinner.
6. Grocery Shop, Cook and If You Got Time COUPON
You know that $40 you just spent on drinks and pasta well... you could have gotten a bottle of wine, snacks and 4 meals for all of that. Grocery shopping instead of eating out has honestly saved me so much money especially this summer but during the school year, honey, let me telllll you it's a life saver. I love to snack so getting those pretzels that are 2 for 5 or that cereal that is 3 for 6 has saved a many of pennies. I am a loyal Giant shopper so I make sure to get the deals. My cousin is an avid couponer and has bought $100 worth of food for $20 many times. Now, I know life is cray cray and who has time to cut coupons? But if they are sent to your phone or you want to download an app, do dat shit shawty. Any little bit will help.
7. Do Fun Things That Don't Cost Money
Going out and having fun does not always have to cost a fortune or anything at all honestly. Check out a free museum, go to a free festival in your city, go for a hike, read, watch a new and intriguing movie, just chill with your friends. When you're on a budget sometimes just cooling it on all the crazy expensive adventures for a while will help your pockets. Or even just find a way to break down costs. Split costs with your friends, share a meal, split that lyft/uber. Be conscious of your spending and of how much money you are actually throwing away.
8. SAVE SAVE SAVE
You aren't going to be in college your whole life but getting into the real world doesn't get any better money wise! So make sure you save when you can so that when you hit a bump in the road you have a little something to fall back on until you get back on your feet. I say this from experience. Not too long ago I lost my job and anyone who knows me knows I have always maintained AT LEAST two jobs. So, when I lost my job I still had a little something to fall back on until I made a quick come back but had I not saved a little here and there and had a second job ya girl would have been SOL for a while.
College isn't easy, we all have our personal and financial struggles and mishaps happen but if you consciously spend and keep track of your expenses and work the equivalent of what you spend you should make it through, sis! Keep your head up, keep pushing. YOU CAN DO THIS.
- A Sunflower