Blog, Budgeting, College, Savings

How to Save Money in (and Out of) College

Let’s be honest. Saving is hard! Especially when those cute shoes at your favorite store just went on sale. Also, when that dress that would match it perfectly has 50% off! We’re all natural spenders, but today, I’m going to teach you how to be saver! To save takes a lot of effort and a lot of budgeting, but once you get the hang of it, it’s so worth it.

Here are 6 tips I’ve used for the past few years that have helped me save hundreds (if not more) of dollars! All money that I’ve been able to keep in my savings for a rainy day.

Rakuten

Rakuten is quite honestly my best friend when it comes to shopping online (and in store!). I’m not going to tell you that if you want to save money, that means zero clothes and shoes for you. We have to be practical! And if we’re being practical, that means we’re going to spend money on clothes every now and then. With Rakuten, you can buy clothes, but also get money back! 

Rakuten works by linking to different clothing websites and offering you a certain percentage in cash back. When you click through their link, you’re automatically set up to get that cash back once you’ve made the purchase. After every few months, Rakuten will send you your “big fat check” with all of your cash back rewards! This month, I’ll be receiving $100 back from only a few shopping trips. They have great deals, sometimes up to 20% cash back, which is pretty great when it’s added on top of the discount stores give you! 

Make Your Own Coffee

I actually still struggle with this one… It’s sad but true. Buying coffee is so easy! I pass at least 10 Starbucks on my way to work. It also doesn’t help that I have two Starbucks in my building that are a 2-minute walk away. It wasn’t until I looked at my bank account and saw how much I spent that month on coffee that I started to take matters into my own hands.. literally. 

After seeing that I spent about $100 that month on coffee ($4.50 a cup really gets to you), I went to Target and bought a small espresso maker. Now, all I need for a good cup of coffee is some espresso powder (Cafe Bustelo is my love), brown sugar cubes, and milk! Since I like iced coffee, most days I’ll brew my coffee the night before, melt a sugar cube in it, then place it in my cup ready for the next day and leave it in the fridge. In the morning, all I have to do is add some milk and ice and I’m out the door! 

Student Disocunts

This is a pretty obvious one, but surprisingly we barely use it. I struggle to remember to use my student discount whenever I go shopping. I also hate to always ask. NEVER FORGET TO ASK. When I bought my MacBook Air, I was able to get $100 off plus Beats Headphones! All because I used my student discount. Stores tend to not ask you for it, so don’t feel awkward pulling out that card and asking them if they provide an extra discount for students. The truth is, pretty much every store in your mall probably will provide some type of discount. 

Rent or Buy Used Textbooks

Buying textbooks in general is expensive, sometimes even used ones. So, if you absolutely need that textbook and cannot share one with friends or find a free version online, then a great idea to save money is looking to rent or buyused textbooks. Used textbooks tend to be 25-50%, sometimes more, cheaper than the original cost. 

I, for one, never bought a new textbook. Typically, your campus’ bookstore will have used options, but those tend to run out quickly. Other places to look would be Amazon or Chegg. Also, when in doubt, google it! Before buying and committing to a price on any textbook, I would google it thoroughly to make sure 1) there was no free version and 2) I’m getting the absolute best price. Remember to start early before classes start so you have time to get it in and to explore your options before they sell out. 

Look at Your Bank Account

I don’t know about you, but the second I open my bank account and see the amount withdrawn (spent) vs the amount added, I immediately want to go on a spending diet. 

How do you save yourself from that ultimate feeling of dread? Budgeting! 

Budgeting doesn’t sound fun, but honestly, I love it. You start to see your habits and things you spend on that you really don’t need to. After going through my account and setting up my own spending report, I was able to cut out so many monthly expenses and save money! I also gave myself a spending limit for each week, forcing myself to stay within that budget for that week. If I spent over the limit, I would deduct from my limit for the week after. 

Staying strong is key here! There were so many times I only had $10 left in my expense for the week, but I saw $75 shoes I thought I DEFINITELY needed. Turns out, I could live without them. And so can you! After creating my budget and giving myself weekly expenses while in college, I found that I’ve actually stuck to it after college! Since I’m making more money than I did before, I’ve increased my limit by a bit, but overall, I’ve kept more in my savings that in my spending. 

Save as you Go

I’m not sure if all banks call this option “Save as you go”, but I do know Wells Fargo does. It’s basically an option where every time you use your debit card on a purchase, your account will move some money to your savings. The large amount you spend, the larger amount will be moved to your savings account! 

It’s a pretty cool option to have. I used to never move money to my savings account, but this feature did for me! The amount moved is usually not too big, $5 being the most that’s ever been moved in my case. So if you’re bad at saving, ask your bank if they have an option like this! It’ll save you time from moving money to your savings, plus it’ll make sure you always have a little something in there. 

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These are my top 6 ways of saving money during and after college. What are your best ways of saving money? Leave it in the comments below!

Want to read more? Check out my recent post on 5 Things I Wish I Knew About Life After College

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