There are so many temptations for people to spend their money on, whether it be that cute fall sweater at the mall or the baked goods at Publix. The trick to saving money is knowing where you can save a dollar–which can be used somewhere else–and how much is reasonable to set back. There is still a great amount of planning involved because if you plan ahead then you know where your money is going, how much you will spend, and what will be leftover. From there, you can decide to cut things out and figure out what needs to change. FSU does provide special assistance to those in the CARE program called “Cash Course”, which aids you in managing your bills. If you are not a CARE student, you can still follow this link to gain personal advice from FSU on managing money and bills: https://care.fsu.edu/college-programs/care-financial-aid/money-management. In the end, you are weighing out if you want to satisfy yourself short term–by buying a cute sweater, or long term–by buying a nice car. I want a nice car, so here are some of my tips to get you started:
1. Meal prep
Since this is a college budget, we have to keep it simple. At the beginning of each week, decide what meals you want to eat throughout the week, make it something simple and affordable. This could be grilled chicken with green beans and rice, or spaghetti and meatballs–whatever you like. Just make sure that it can be warmed back up and will not taste soggy and old later. Also, try to avoid choosing options with a lot of ingredients, which will be more time-consuming and expensive. I know we all love a Thanksgiving feast but save that for November. The benefits of meal-prepping are that you are less likely to spend money eating out later, and you’re not buying several ingredients for different types of meals throughout the week (which can quickly add up). If you need a little variety in your life, buy ingredients that can be used in different ways. An example would be making shredded chicken and using it for tacos one night, then quesadillas another night, and maybe even a sandwich for lunch on-campus. Sincerely Kale is a food blog that provides tons of recipes, follow this link to gain 40 new meal prep ideas: https://sincerelykale.com/40-healthy-meal-prep-recipes-to-make-for-the-week/
2. Make the decision to shop at Walmart and Target
I know what you’re thinking, Greenwise and Publix are a wonderland of fresh produce, organic products, and that mouthwatering bakery section–but you are living on a college budget. News flash, Walmart carries these things too! Besides, who doesn’t love homemade baked goods more than store-bought, anyway? We are trying to save you that cash-money and that’s why this switch is absolutely necessary. You know you love a good Target run, I mean, come on, they have a Starbucks. So grab a cup of coffee and get to saving your money, Honey.
3. Amazon Prime
How does adding another monthly subscription save you money? Amazon Prime is half off for students! Not to mention, you get free two-day shipping, access to a variety of movies, T.V. shows, and music, and they have a Whole Foods Market you can shop from–and get your groceries delivered to you. At the beginning of the year, when you’re shopping for your textbooks, Amazon helps find you the best deals from multiple book stores across the country. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy (used or new) they offer every option. The cherry on top? Free two-day shipping so you can get your textbooks and get started. Let’s be honest, we’re college students living on a college budget, we do an excessive amount of online shopping and paying for a delivery fee–every time–adds up.
4. Use the produce isle
Produce is one of the cheapest isles and the most versatile for cooking. Load up on green beans and zucchini with dinner, or strawberries and apples for desserts, and maybe even some carrots for a mid-day snack. This is not a health tip, though it could be–a quick glimpse of the price tag might show that some bags of chips are more expensive than a bag of broccoli. Plus, there are so many ways that it can be used in the kitchen. Bottom line: produce is cheap, filling, healthy, and versatile.
5. Buy in bulk
This might seem a little counterproductive upon first viewing that price tag; however, it is beneficial to buy in bulk because it actually saves you money in the end. Many stores actually make larger quantities of an item cheaper because they know that it will sell better, which will benefit them in the long run. Buying in bulk is a form of investment because it will last you longer and you are practically getting some of the product for free due to buying it in bulk. For example, buying packages of chicken–you know the ones you only buy if you were feeding six children–is better than buying two smaller packages, which would cost several dollars more. Don’t worry, nothing is going to expire, you can freeze what you don’t use and make in in the following weeks.
6. Avoid eating fast-food
Trust me, I am well-aware of how hard this one is. Right now, I could go for an extra cheesy pizza with tomatoes, basil, and chorizo from Blaze–and a side of dough knots. However, the meal I just named is about $10, drink included. To put this in perspective, that could also be one meal-prepped meal across four days of the week. Of course, you should go out and have that burger at Madso on trivia night, you’re in college, enjoy yourself, make that memory. My advice is to limit eating out to about once a week to a couple times a month. It may be difficult at first, but that Dunkin’ coffee every morning is breaking the bank. In time, you will come to realize how much extra money you have been able to save from your college budget.
7. Save a set percent of your paycheck each week
I almost forgot the most important part: setting the college budget. There is a common rule of thumb that suggests saving 20 percent of your paycheck each week. Utilizing percent works better than saying, for example, $100 per week because one week you may make less than you had expected. I personally, up this number to about 40 to 50 percent of my checks but it all depends on your needs each week and your current bills. Adjust this number as you need to but avoid decreasing it. I promise, once you see those numbers adding up, it is a real motivator.
8. Have groceries delivered or walk
This is for all you folks without a car. If it makes you feel any better, I don’t either, and that’s why you should consider taking my advice. I have tried it all to determine the best way to save money. First tip: Don’t uber. By the time you pay for the Uber to the store and back, you have most likely spent a minimum of $20 on that alone. This leads me into my second tip: have your groceries delivered. The delivery fee is actually cheaper than the tip there and back. Plus, you won’t be tempted to throw in that extra pint of ice cream while walking around the store. Doing it online makes it easier to stick to your grocery list and avoid the temptation. Third tip: Walk or take the bus. I don’t recommend walking if you have a lot of groceries or cold items. This applies to if you need to pick up a tube of toothpaste and some ketchup at our local CVS, steps off of campus. The bus would also be a better option for a quick run to the store for the essentials, no more Uber’s. Save those for getting home on Friday nights.
9. Find free activities to do
A college budget would be a little harder to maintain without knowing the free stuff. FSU offers plenty of free activities and events on campus. The Student Life Cinema offers free movies, various video games, and trivia. Landis is the place to be for free food, like the President’s Ice Cream Social. Plus, there are occasional movie showings on the Landis Green as well. There’s much more, but this is a list for another time.
10. Set a spending limit
It’s not a college budget without a limit. Freely spending is an easy way to lose track of your goals and the amount of money you are spending. This all depends on the money you may have left over after bills, savings, and necessities. Whatever your set number is, hold yourself to it. It may also be helpful for you to write down your purchases to help you keep track of how much you are spending and what it is going towards. This an efficient way to figure out where you could improve.