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If you’re a college student like myself, you know that money can be tight – really tight. With tuition, textbooks, food, and activity fees to think about, it can be extremely overwhelming. Even with a part-time job, it’s still difficult to find the money to pay for the necessities.
My freshman year of college was a financial disaster. I didn’t have a job and relied solely on my parents for my income. I never checked my bank account and I just kept swiping my debit card for whatever I wanted. It wasn’t until my parents sat me down and told me I needed to be more aware of my money that I realized how irresponsible I had been.
Looking through my bank statement, I pinned down what I spent the most on: eating out, clothes, and makeup. Literally nothing else. I ate out everyday because I felt like I didn’t have time to cook for myself. College was “too busy” and “too stressful” of a time to cook.
I wanted to look cool, too. There was a lot of personal pressure for myself to make new friends and I thought that having new clothes all the time would help. My thinking process was along the lines of, “If I buy this new top, maybe people would want to approach me more.” I was 100% wrong.
Lastly, I spent so many dollars on new makeup. During my freshman year, I wore makeup everyday. I was scared of going out bare-faced. Because of this, I needed to buy new products all the time to refill my empty/old ones. Also, my YouTube beauty video obsession didn’t help either.
As I am halfway through my college career, I have figured out ways to save hundreds of dollars per month! Yes, hundreds of dollars. I am no financial expert, but I have made some life changes that made all the difference for my bank account.
1. Stop eating out: Quitting eating out was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do. I still eat out, on occasion, but it is significantly less than I used to. Now, I meal prep! Instead of spending at least $100/week eating out, I only spend around $40/week buying food for my meal prep. Not only that, my cooking skills have increased 10-fold (now I can cook for my future family haha). I like to find my meal prep inspo on Pinterest.
2. Buy only what you need: No, you don’t need that new top or that new palette. Take a look at your closet/collection and identify your basics. Whatever you don’t need or wear anymore, you can sell to your peers or give away to charities like Goodwill. Only buy clothes that you truly need and will wear at least ten times. You may not be trendy, but you will be richer. This small step makes all the difference.
3. Put your money away, and don’t touch it: At the start of the last school year, I got myself a part-time job. As a student worker, I only worked 10 hours/week. That’s not a lot of time and I didn’t make a lot of money. But, just knowing I was making my own money motivated me to save. As each direct deposit came in, I put 50% into my savings account. The remainder would go into my checking account and I asked my parents to stop giving me free money. This made me more conscious of how I was spending my money. Not to mention, the money in my savings account has tripled!
4. Uber is not your friend: I have been a victim of waking up late for class and calling an Uber to drop me off in front of the designated building. Or studying late at the library and calling an Uber to take me home. Even though one ride is only ~$5.00 (from campus to my apartment), this $5.00 can add up quick. Instead, I try to utilize public transportation as much as I can, walk where I can, and use our school’s shuttle system to take me from point A to point B.
5. Purchase only on Ebates affiliated sites: If I do need a new pair of shoes or a new jacket, I purchase them online through the Ebates website. If you don’t know what Ebates is, it’s a website that will give you cash back if you purchase from any of their sites. This sounds to good to be true but no, this isn’t a scam. Sign up for Ebates now to save money right away.
6. Create a budget: When I made my first budget, I knew that I was finally taking those baby steps into adulthood. Yes, budgets are boring but they are extremely helpful. Each month, you can assess where you spend too much, where you can afford to spend more, and how much money you can save by cutting costs. Setting up a budget can be confusing and difficult at first, but it’s easier than you think! I use a pre-made template on Google Sheets and it has been working well for me.
7. Apply for scholarships and grants: This is probably the most known way to save money while in college. The hardest part about this is finding the one that fits you and applying. Just keep looking, there is a scholarship or grant out there for everyone! It never hurts to apply and when you finally receive one, you will be thankful for all the money you saved.
8. Get a part-time job: When I first started college, my parents told me not to get a job. They wanted me to focus on my schoolwork without the stress of a job. I am very thankful for my parents and their financial support. But the time came around for me to try and support myself financially and add to my resume. Check out campus jobs or jobs around your campus! People are always hiring.
9. Be strong: Refraining from spending money is extremely hard – especially when you are accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Being strong through this process may be the hardest part, but it will pay off in the end!
I hope that you enjoyed reading my tips for how I save hundreds of dollars per week in college. I know that that seems like a large amount, especially for a college student, but with all these small changes you will notice a difference in your bank account.
Do you have any money saving tips?