The start of a new college semester might not seem like the ideal time to save money, but with some planning and discipline, you can have a balanced bank account by finals.
We’ve got 8 tips below for you to cut back on expenses over the next few months so that you have extra cash for travels, purchases and anything else you’re planning for the summer.
Limit Your Daily Expenses.
That daily latte before class may not sound expensive, but it could be costing you big time throughout the semester. It’s okay to treat yourself every now and then, but try limiting your most expensive spending habits to only a few times a week instead of every day. Not only will you end up saving hundreds of dollars throughout the year, but you’ll also look forward to your once-in-awhile treat.
If you’re truly committed to saving money this semester, you might want to consider creating a budget. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use an app like Mint (iOS | Android) or Spendee (iOS | Android) to track your spending and help keep yourself accountable. Most budgeting apps will allow you to link your bank account and send you a weekly report of your expenses so you’ll know where to cut back.
College Students Get Discounts.
Those jokes about broke college students surviving on ramen noodles exist for a reason. But the good news is, tons of stores and restaurants are willing to help college students on a budget. Research places that offer discounts for students with valid IDs (here’s a list of some) and commit to visiting them rather than the ones that don’t give discounts, whenever possible.
Scour the Couch Cushions.
It’s probably been a few years since you owned a piggy bank, but if you want to save some extra money, it might be a good idea to get a new one. You can use a money bank, mason jar or mug to collect spare change each week and commit to not touching it until the end of the semester. Once classes are over, go ahead and treat yourself to a shopping spree or use the extra cash for your travels.
Become an Extreme (or Occasional) Couponer.
Not all the stores you shop at will offer college discounts, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to save there, too. Download coupon apps like Vouchercloud (iOS | Android) and Groupon (iOS | Android) for discount codes you can use at various retailers. If there’s a certain store you frequent, find out if they have their own coupon app that could save you some money online or at the register.
Party of One?
Restaurant or fast food dining is part of college life, and the good news is saving money doesn’t mean you have to cut it out completely. Instead of vowing to only eat home-cooked meals forever, set a more realistic goal by committing to only eat out when you’re meeting up with friends. When you’re grabbing lunch by yourself, stick to the dining hall or your own groceries instead.
Hello, Food Network.
The best way to motivate yourself to save money by packing your own lunch is to know how to make food you’ll actually want to eat. Search Pinterest, a cookbook or recipe websites for a few favorite meals you can make throughout the semester. Not only will you actually enjoy your food throughout the year, but you’ll also acquire some cooking skills to show off to your friends.
It’s Time for a “No Buy.”
You might think it’s a good idea to promise yourself you won’t buy (fill in the blank) all semester, but it’s better to be realistic. Give yourself a week each month where you plan not to purchase items in a category where you know you tend to splurge — that could mean no new tech/clothing/beauty products, no movie tickets or no coffee. If you’re not sure you can stick to it, plan to leave your wallet at home and only carry some emergency cash with you (used truly for emergencies!).
By Priscilla Aceves