As a college student, I understand what it’s like to work a lot and see very disappointing results when I check my bank account. In the words of my favorite band, Family Force 5, “I can’t afford to live this way. I barely live off what I make…living paycheck to paycheck.” But there’s good news for me – and for any of you dear readers who feel this way, too! There are lots of little things we can do every day to help keep the costs down and hold on just a little longer to the change we find in our couch cushions. Here are just a few:
- Make it yourself! Eat in. Pack a lunch. Bottle your own water. And when you cook, make more than necessary and freeze the extras. It’ll save you time and money later when it comes time to eat again.
- If you do have to eat out at some point, one thing that can help save you some money is to order water with your meal. It may not seem like a lot, but those Diet Cokes add up.
- When it comes to grocery shopping, there are many mistakes to be made. But, lucky for us, there are lots of ways to avoid them. First, make a list and stick to it. Don’t buy what you don’t need. Second, shop when you’re in a hurry. You won’t have time to lollygag around and end up buying way more than you planned on. Don’t shop hungry, either. Everything will seem appealing. And finally, get those scissors out and coupon!
- Don’t get new clothes. Ask for that certain something you want for Christmas or your birthday. Mend clothes instead of replacing them. And know what’s in your closet. You can free yourself of clutter and maybe find some hidden gems in there that you forgot you had.
- If you really do need to buy yourself something new, be smart about it. Make like Macklemore and hit up your local thrift store. Be a bargain hunter. You can also try garage sales and stores that sell overstock and other assorted discount clothes.
- Maybe you’re not brave enough to cut your own hair, but the salon can be expensive. So look for a nearby beauty school and let the students do your ‘do for much less money.
- Go to the library. Use their computers. Do your research. Find the books you need without buying them. Libraries are free, but super valuable, so use them!
- Take care of your car. You use it a lot, so don’t let yourself spend so much on repairs. Don’t weigh it down with all kinds of extra junk and don’t idle – those are both ways to waste the precious gas you put into your car. And speaking of gas, compare prices. Make sure you’re getting the best deal out there.
- Just like with everything else, take advantage of deals – on school books, office supplies or anything else you might need for your classes or your job. Check online or keep your eye out for sales at stores. And if you know what you need early enough, you can give yourself time to find the best deal.
- Turn things off. Unplug things. Switch off the lights. Save electricity wherever you can. You’ll be glad when you get the bill.
- Open windows when it’s hot. And bundle up when it’s cold. Simple as that.
- Be a homebody. Stay in on the weekend and play some games, watch a movie or invite some friends over instead of going out on the town.
- DIY – whenever possible, cook it, fix it, or make it yourself. Bring to life some of those Pinterest ideas you have. Don’t call in a professional every time something breaks. Stop spending money on things you can make yourself – which is more than you think!
- Keep track. Save your receipts. Keep your eye on your bank account. It’s harder to save your money when you don’t keep track of how much money you have – or how much money you spend.
- Set goals. Make a game out of it if you have to! Save your spare change for something big. Reward yourself for every week you go without spending unnecessarily. See how little you can spend in a set amount of time. It might take some time to see results – but if you work hard and make good decisions, the results will be worth it!
Saving money can seem like a daunting and impossible task. Everything costs money, and money is hard to come by. But take a deep breath. And now take some baby steps. There are all kinds of little things you can do to save money every day without changing your whole lifestyle. And these little things can make a big difference!