With the freedom to do, buy, and eat whatever you want in college comes the devastating realization that no, money is not unlimited, and sacrifices have to be made. By the time the end of the month rolls around, you find yourself living off of bread and Nutella because you had spent all your money on brunch every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before. This is a highly unideal life, and honestly, by it could all be avoided by a few reasonable adjustments to your lifestyle.
1. Prep meals in advance
This is probably the biggest money saver out of all the tips. Yes, it's daunting to have to actually cook for yourself, but the money you save can go towards that Urth Caffe brunch date you have this weekend. A good method is to grocery shop the Sunday before and find ingredients you really like, then make enough food for at least 5-6 meals. This way, you'll be guaranteed to have dinner the whole week with extras to possibly even bring to campus. A week's worth of groceries at a Trader Joe's is probably around $45, which, if you're eating out, is probably only 2 meals.
2. Create an excel sheet to track spending
There are many ways to do this. For those who are extremely organized, you can log your spendings at the end of each day, separating them by type and necessity levels. For the other 90% of the population, update that excel sheet at least once a week, and try to separate your food, transportation and entertainment costs, because those tend to be the 3 largest categories of spending for college students. Having a visual representation of how much you spend can often help reduce that urge to buy tickets to the concert next week, and if you accidentally spent too much one week, you'll know to save a little more the next!
3. Thrift instead of online shop
We've all experienced this before. We're working hard on a project, homework assignment, or an essay when we decide to check our emails. You see an email from Urban Outfitters about an online sale and all of a sudden, all productivity is lost.
First of all, unsubscribe to these stores immediately. It will save you so much time and money.
Go thrift shopping with a friend instead! Not only will you find one-of-a-kind pieces that no one else will have, you'll be getting it at a much more affordable price. Plus, you'll be helping the environment by rejecting fast fashion!
4. Take advantage of public transportation
With Uber and Lyft and Zipcar around at all times, it's easy to fall into the routine of just spending $10 on a trip just to eat out. Instead, take that $2 bus and walk a little bit - with the money you saved, you could probably order a whole extra dish at the restaurant. Walking will also give you more justification for eating a heck ton of food later and will allow you to explore the city you live in on foot. Of course, don't go trekking around alone at 4 in the morning when you know an area is known to be unsafe, but by cutting that number of times you take Uber in half, you can probably save a hefty amount.