For this month, I am going to share my tips for budgeting and saving money in college. As we all know, college is extremely expensive. The early years of your adult life are the best time to engrain savings and good money habits into your life. Budgeting can be difficult, but like most things in life the more you do it the easier it gets. I understand that everyone’s situation is different, but I hope that I can give you all some beneficial tips that you can implement into your lifestyle.
- The 60-40 rule.
One of the first budgeting principles that I adopted was the 60-40 rule. After I received my paycheck each week, I would save 60% and use the other 40% for whatever I needed. This rule served as the framework for all the budgeting principles that I later adopted. Sticking to this rule each week made it a habit for me to save money. Something I do note however, is that as you get older or more independent, you begin to acquire more bills so the 60-40 rule becomes more difficult to implement. If this is something you have never tried before I recommend calculating all your known expenses for a month and then setting up a ratio that would best support you while still saving money.
- Track spending
Something that I recently started utilizing is an app that tracks my spending. The app I use is called Mint and was created by Intuit who is the parent company of TurboTax. This app is extremely useful. You can link your bank accounts, credit cards, bills, investments, and so many other things to track your weekly spending. You can create a monthly budget through the app that is completely customizable for whatever your needs are. This app does a great job of keeping me aware of how much money I am saving and spending each month. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to track their spending and create saving goals throughout the year. This app simplifies budgeting and keeps me motivated to work towards my savings goals.
- Shop store brands
Some shopping tips that I have are to buy the store brand, use coupons, and look for the best deal. There is often a negative stigmatism on store brands. As someone who has worked for a major supermarket in the U.S, I will let you in a little secret. Several store-brand products are produced by name-brand companies. That is not always the case, but that should not be the main reason why you choose to buy the pricier version of the product. In my experience, I have never really been let down by store-brand products. There are usually discounts on them which is always a plus. There are some things that I do like to pay extra for, but in general, I would recommend buying store brand products for most of your groceries. They save you money and are typically as good as the name brand.
- Shop bargain stores
One store that I feel everyone should utilize is the dollar store. I have purchased several goods from the dollar store that have served great use for me. Some examples include mini trash cans, hand towels, and kitchen supplies. I started shopping at the dollar store when I first got to college and was quite amazed by the selection of products they had in the store. The dollar store usually has big-name brand products for some of the things that I like to buy. What I like most about the dollar store is that if I am not satisfied with the product, I tell myself that I only paid a dollar for it so the loss is very limited. When you first come to college, I recommend taking a trip to the dollar store to see what great things you can find for yourself and your dorm.
- Sign up for free memberships
Another great tip I have is to sign up to be a member of whatever grocery stores you shop at. It takes just a few minutes to sign up and are free. This is an easy way to get access to coupons and discounts every time you shop. There is no reason not to sign up in my opinion. The savings you earn from these store cards will surely add up.
- Shop around for the best deal
In my opinion, you should always try to look for the best deal when you shop. This is easiest to do when shopping online. When we think of online shopping our thoughts immediately go to Amazon. Amazon is a great platform, but I found that they do not always have the best price. One thing that Amazon does do better than its competitors is their prime shipping so that is something to consider. With that out of the way, looking for the best price is easier than it has ever been. You have places like eBay but you can also look at the big retailers like Target, Walmart, and BestBuy. There is nothing wrong with trying to find the best deal to help yourself save some money. The price differences between some of these retailers can be quite large sometimes so it is important to make sure you get the best deal you can find.
Budgeting is a challenging task that depends on many variables. On the plus side, we are young, so this is the perfect time to start learning and practicing good money habits. Starting now can set you up for a lifetime of success. These practices, strategies, and principles take time to master but you will not be disappointed with the positive impacts on your finances that will occur.