As a college student I have learned very well how to save money in the past few years but every time I look at my bank account it still has a low balance. I have learned how to live off of a part time student income. It involves a lot of planning and budgeting but it does not mean I don’t get some of the luxury things I want. Below are some tips and techniques on how I save and monitor my money.
The first step to saving money is knowing where your money is going. Start now and monitor where you spend your money. Every time you spend money or make money record it. Write down the date, amount, what the money was spent on, and why you spent it. Or how much money you made, how you made it, and when you made it. You will want to do this for at least a couple weeks if not a month. By monitoring where your money is coming and going you will be able to visual see where your money is at.
Once you have monitored your spending for a month take your list and examine it. You will be able to see what part of the month you spend the most money. You can see how much money your making and how much your spending. You can also re-organize the list by categories. Organize your list into needs (bills, food, insurance, etc), wants (clothes, alcohol, candy, etc) and luxury (tanning, gym memberships, entertainment). Also examine when you get paid and when you spend money. People often spend more money right after they are paid.
Now that you can see when and where your money is going you can make several decisions. These decisions will help you to make a budget and better control your money. Your first decision is to decide how much money you want or need to save? By when do you want to have that amount of money? Then take your amount and divide it up into months or pay periods. Now that you know how much money you need to save each month you can can determine where you need to spend less. I recommend looking in your luxury section of your spending and cut back or eliminate it.
1. Eliminate unnecessary expenses
If your budget is so tight that you don’t have a luxury category the examine your wants and needs. In your needs column you have food. Are you cooking food, eating out, or ordering in? When you eat out are you having fast food or sit down food? Eating out, even fast food is expensive so if you have the time to cook then do it. When you go to the grocery store price check different stores. Larger name stores are often more expensive. Also check store coupon policies. Some stores double coupons and let you use them on sale items.
2. Avoid eating out by cooking at home.
3. Use coupons when ever possible.
Also look for the sales when shopping for anything. When I buy clothes I always look at the clearance racks. Any more clothes are expensive and to by them full price is ridiculous. So use coupons, shop the sales, check the clearance, or look at second hand stores. Many people have problems with shopping at second hand stores because the clothes are used. When a second hand store buys or receives clothes they carefully look them over and will not sell them if they are well loved or older styles. Second hand stores are perfect if you need something for a one time use or costume.
4. Check the clearance racks.
5. Shop or sell to second hand stores.
Another great thing is that some second hand stores buy your clothes back. If you have an over flowing closet or even just some old clothes you don’t wear any more try selling them. I try to sell clothes to Plato’s Closet about every other month. This helps keep my closet emptier and my wallet fuller.
6. Dress warmer or cooler
When at home you can save money by keeping the thermostat at a reasonable temperature. In the summer try dressing a little cooler and having the air condition on a higher temperature to save electricity and money. The same in the winter. Dress warmer and turn the heat down so it doesn’t run as much.
7. Use reusable products
Another way to save money is to review your needs. While you need plates to eat on you don’t need to buy them every month so use reusable products such as silver ware, plates, cups, and even bags. When shopping some stores will give you a discount if your bring your own bag so see if any one your local stores do that.
8. Do you really need that “need”?
When using your reusable cup take a look at what your filling it with. While you may love that Starbucks coffee every morning the price really adds up. So save money by making coffee at home or only drinking water. You already have to pay for water so why waste money on unhealthy sugary drinks. Take a look at some of the other things you think you need as well. While browsing through the store for groceries you come to the candy isle. I know every one has a sweet spot for sweets but just keep walking. Not only will it make you healthier it will save you money on an unnecessary purchase.
I know I jumped around a lot but I hope you will try some of these tips. Even just monitoring your spending and seeing where your money goes will help you to save money. Comment any other things you do to save money that might help other people as well.