Being a college student can be tough on the wallet. With books to buy and tuition to pay off, it's a little harder to have extra money on you, especially when you're a freshman with no job. Despite being new to UIUC and having little experience with the way of life here, saving up or trying to not use so much money can be done if you take the following steps.
1. Limit your card usage.
It's easy to just keep on swiping your credit or debit card when paying for something in public. I know that at least for me, I think I'm able to keep track of the amount of money I've spent, but when I check my balance, I suddenly have spent more than I thought. Try to always check your account balance and even stop using your card as your main way of payment to discourage impulsive buying.
2. Keep a small amount of money on you.
In addition to reducing card usage, keeping only a small amount of cash on you can help reduce compulsive shopping. If it isn't there, you can't spend it.
3. Maybe don’t buy coffee every day.
Coffee may be relatively low-cost, depending on the type of drink you buy, but these small payments add up, especially when you get it often. Making my own coffee instead of heading out to Starbucks or Espresso Royale daily can save me ten or more dollars weekly.
4. Use your Cafe Credits.
Depending on the meal plan you're on, you're given a set amount of meals and " Cafe Credits" for food weekly. These "credits" can be used at grocery store-like places, like 57 North or Penn Station, to buy snacks or can be used to swipe into the dining halls. Although credits can roll over up to twice the amount your payment plan gives you, still use the credits instead of heading outside to buy everyday snacks.
5. Use your meals.
Another thing the meal plans provide is a set number of meals. Instead of eating out at Chipotle or getting Wendy's in between classes, use these meals at the various dining halls all over campus. This can save you tons of money, especially if you eat out very often.
6. Give yourself a budget.
Shopping at UIUC may be more difficult than shopping in a city or with a car, but it isn't impossible. Because online shopping, Amazon, and the MTD exist, there will always be an opportunity to overspend at the stores in Champaign-Urbana or online. When shopping, set a budget for yourself and make a list of what you need to avoid buying unnecessary items that you want to impulsively buy.
With these steps, you can hopefully save up a lot more money and limit your spending, while still being able to treat yourself from time-to-time.