The dumbest thing I did while in college was that I didn’t learn how to save money in college.
Like most college students, I saw the unexpected as impossible. I never thought that my already beat down Baby Blue Bronco 2 was going to fail me. I never thought I would make less the next week than I did the last. I never thought ahead of the unexpected. And it all came back to that piggy bank. I never thought about what to do after college.
That piggy bank was always empty. It didn’t matter what income level I was at or the number of bills I had, it always had a goose-egg in it. This resulted in multiple personal family loans and sliding of the student credit card when such shouldn’t have been the case. This is why, whether you are in college or another time in your life, you must learn how to save money quickly.
While in college, I would tell myself to save for necessary expenses in the future, but rarely made it a long term priority. I worked full time and went to school full time while in college so I frequently felt that I deserved to spend that small saved amount on a night out with the friends as I thought I had deserved such. The reason I had to work full time was because I wasn’t managing my money properly. If I was worn out, I couldn’t take an extra day off of work because that roughly $120 loss would be too painful. There are a million reasons as to why I didn’t save, but there were just as many reasons I needed to save.
With that being said, there is no better time to start saving for the unexpected than right now. Through the following, you should be able to build a “Safety Net” fund within 6 months. During that 6 months, you still will have this fund available for the unexpected, but only for the unexpected. By focusing on 6 months out, you can build a significant fund.
The goal of this savings action is to make sure that the unexpected can be covered if such occurs. First and foremost, we need to determine what needs to be eliminated from current unnecessary expenditures if you want to save money quickly.
- Cook all but one meal per week. Stop blowing your money on fast food and other restaurants. Most meals can be cooked for a lot less than when eating out. Spoil yourself by eating one meal per week at a restaurant or fast food. By allowing that one meal out, you will kill that craving and have something to look forward to. You can also figure out how to save money in college this way.
- Limit going out. The bar or club is the number one place most people should eliminate when trying to boost their financial standing. Make it a point to have friends over, play some games or watch a movie, and split a 12 pack. That 12 pack would cost 4-5 times as much going out.
- Don’t pick up the tab. I probably spent 3 times as much at bars and restaurants when going out with friends because I would pick up the tab. Be stingy and if your friends don’t understand, explain to them that you want to be more financially secure. You don’t have to spend money to pick up girls at the bar.
- Clothes, gadgets, and subscriptions. How much do you waste on buying a third white blouse or designer clothing that you could get for $10 at Target? Do you really need the new iPad? Couldn’t you just watch your favorite television program on the internet instead of paying $100 for satellite television? These are all unnecessary in many instances. If not unnecessary, than there are ways to eliminate some of the cost. Once I became a minimalist, I started feeling free from the constraints of stuff and bills.
The next step is to try generating extra income. If you want to save money in college, you simply need to make more money.
- Sell your crap. I have made thousands of dollars by selling stuff I don’t need or use anymore. Make Craigslist and eBay your friend and start ridding everything that doesn’t promote your efforts to achieve your goals. Then take this money and put it all towards a “Safety Net”. In many cases, this will help you save money quickly.
- Get a second job. I was lucky to have a well paying job while in college and beyond, but there are many jobs that just don’t cover the bills and that is before debt payments and the unexpected. Try delivering pizzas, tutoring, or babysitting for a little extra cash. Make sure to put ALL of this money towards your savings.
- Get online. There is tons of money to be made online. No, I am not talking about get-rich-quick schemes either. Take something you love and start writing a blog about it. You can make money from advertisements, affiliate marketing, and eBooks. I made $1200 in March 2010 just from writing an eBook about my lifestyle and how others could do the same. Now, that eBook will live on forever and generate a small bit of passive income that takes little if any effort from me. A blog doesn’t cost much to start (FREE using WordPress) and you can entertain yourself, grow as a person and build on the savings account. You can learn how to start an online business right now.
The most important step is saving, obviously. The following may help you break down the how easy it is to save a small amount today to have a major impact tomorrow.
- Just Let Go! The emotional attachment we have to our belongings is beyond ridiculous. Start loosening your grip on the material items in your life so that you can regain the mental stability that comes with being financially sound. It may seem like stuff makes you happy, but it really doesn’t.
- Save $5 per day. How often do you spend $5 each and every day on things like latte’s and snacks? Do you really need them or just want them? Start eliminating these small desires and save $5 a day. After 6 months, you could have about $900 extra put into savings. I don’t know about you, but $900 extra in savings wouldn’t be such a bad thing for me. Plus, it all adds up very quickly.
- Question every penny you spend. I’m guilty of this too. Many times, I think I am just spending $2.39 on something and not realize that all of those small purchases add up. Start questioning any dollar amount you spend so that you can get in the habit of asking yourself whether you really need whatever you or buying.
This article could go on for days and days, but I’m not going to bore you to death with the always exciting world of saving. What I do want to get across is that anyone can learn how to save money in college.
Today’s guest post came from David Damron.