It’s no secret that college can be the most expensive period of your life. Check out these money saving tips to help you get ahead of your finances!
1. Cook a “Clean Out” Meal
Food can be one of the biggest costs in college (besides that outrageous tuition). Make the most of the food you have by cooking a “clean out” meal! This meal consists of taking whatever is about to expire in your fridge (plus whatever already has expired but is still safe to eat) and making a meal out of whatever you find. If you have mostly vegetables left over, try adding some teriyaki or soy sauce and cook up a stir fry. Nut butters can easily be made into a glaze with some sugar and water. Bananas can be substituted in baking for eggs (half a banana for one egg) and can also be used to make pancakes. If you don’t know what to make with what you have, try tossing it all into a pot and making some soup!
2. Use What You Have Before Buying New
Before you go out and buy something you think you need, try searching through your house to see if you can DIY it first! Most things that we buy can either be made at home, substituted for something else, or skipped over entirely. Olive or avocado oil can be used for cooking, makeup remover, face/body moisturizer, and in your hair to tame and moisturize it after a shower. Toothpaste doesn’t remove plaque from your teeth any better than dry brushing (brushing without toothpaste), so if you run out, you can always skip it. Whatever your needs, try looking at what you have to make what you need!
3. Buy Things With Multiple Uses
Invest your minimal amounts of money into things that will last a long time and can be used for many things. Olive oil, as mentioned above, has many, many uses. It’s worth investing in! Most herbs and vegetables where the root is intact can be grown at home. Next time you buy garlic, let some cloves sprout and stick them in a bit of water to let their roots grow. Then, plant it in a little pot and water it daily. Pick up some seeds of various herbs and try starting a little garden at home. It might cost money up front, but it’ll save you in the long run!
4. Pirate Your Textbooks
You might hesitate at the thought of downloading your textbook online instead of buying a physical copy, but a single textbook can cost around $200. Since the textbook industry is broken and textbooks companies try to sell you a new edition that is basically the same as the earlier version except that it’s hundreds of dollars more expensive, you don’t have to feel guilty! Try looking through textbook websites to find the books you need and rejoice in your free finds. Just be careful not to download a virus.
5. Keep a Budget
Go to your local spreadsheet app and start a budget! Budgets can be terrifying because it’s basically a large grid that tells you all of the ways in which you’ve spent your money, but once you get over your fears, they’re actually so useful! Set up a column that will tell you how much you made this month and another one for how much you’ve spent. Split up your costs into categories like food costs, housing costs, and transportation costs and give yourself some parameters to work with. Try to stick to your projected budget as much as possible and make sure you try to put away a few dollars every month just in case!