Whether you're a rising sophomore ready to leave your teenage years behind or a rising senior with adulthood breathing down your neck, chances are, you could save some money. I get it--I'm not living at home over the summer for the first time, and I owe my parents a boatload of money from when I was abroad. Here are a few tips that I've picked up over the past few weeks that have helped me cut corners on costs. Hope it helps :)
1. Don't buy coffee
Here are the facts: Depending on where you live, you're spending between $1-$5 for a cup. Brewing a cup of coffee at home costs you between 16 and 18 cents per cup (according to Business Insider). Coffee at home costs about $45 a year, whereas buying coffee can cost anywhere from around $240-$1200 a year. That money really adds up over time, so even if you choose to make coffee at home once or twice a week, it will help you in the long run.
2. Cook at home!
Speaking of making things at home, I've recently started cooking. It's definitely time consuming, but it's even more rewarding. On Sunday, I spent about $20 at Trader Joe's; this one grocery run consisted of my entire breakfast from Monday-Friday, plus 4 lunches. Assuming eating out is about $5 for breakfast and about $10 for lunch, I'll save $45 on those breakfasts and lunches that I prepared this week.
Also, I found this one article on Self where a woman did her entire week's grocery shopping for only $40! Here's the link if you're interested in giving it a try:
3. Have a plan
You know how they say that failing to plan is planning to fail? Well, it's especially true for impulse shoppers like myself. It only takes a few minutes to make a list of items that you intend on picking up at the store. So, be sure to make a list before you go each time. Wandering in without a plan (and on an empty stomach) is how you end up buying things that you really really REALLY don't need (I'm looking at you, $15 head scratcher from Urban Outfitters that's currently collecting dust on my nightstand).
4. Use a spending app
Depending on each of our savings goals, we all need different apps in our lives. Personally, I use Clarity Money. It gives me an update of how much money I've spent each week on shopping, dining, fitness/health, rideshares, and more. There's even a separate window that documents my recurring expenses.
Speaking of recurring expenses, it's a good idea to take a good, hard look at your recurring expenses and consider which ones are worth keeping. If I'm on the fence about a subscription, I cancel it because I know I can reactivate it if I actually want/need it.
5. Buy pre-loved items
There is absolutely no shame in using platforms like Facebook marketplace to your advantage. For example, if you're looking to furnish your apartment for next year, take a look around websites like Apartment Therapy Marketplace, Offerup, and Chairish to see if you can find what you're looking for.
It may be off-putting to buy used things at first, but just remember that it's more likely that the previous owner is trying to get rid of it simply because they have no need for it anymore rather than because the object is broken. My coworkers, who are grown adults, have told me about amazing finds from shelves to silverware. Not only do you save money, but you also save perfectly good items from being needlessly tossed in the trash!
6. Sell what you don't need anymore
On the flip-side, if you find yourself in possession of something that's in perfectly good condition but is just gathering dust, list it somewhere! Most apps (Poshmark, Mercari, Offerup, Facebook Marketplace) allow sellers to download the app and list items at no cost. I've used Mercari in the past to sell old pants, dresses, bikinis, bags, jackets, and even old electronics. The app has earned me over $300 so far and it takes a bit of work, but I'd say it's well worth it.
7. Cash back apps <3
About 70% of my total spending is online shopping. I can't eliminate this category because I just like buying things too much, but I can certainly get some cash back for my purchases. The Rakuten cash back app is a free download and easy to install web browser plug-in. You just shop normally, and then you get anywhere from 1-10% cash back on your purchases. You get a check in the mail once a month, and it's a small amount, but it's waaaay better than nothing. Sometimes when there's big holidays, I've seen cash back up to 15%!
There is no such thing as free money, but to me, this is actually free money.