The parties are plentiful and the friends are many, but your bank account is painfully low. How do you balance your newfound freedom and the desire to discover who you really are with the minimum wage you earn at your part-time job? Believe it or not, being a college student doesn’t mean you have to be careless with your money, and living on a budget doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the fun. There is a perfect place that exists between being financially responsible and living life to the fullest.
The SpendSmart prepaid MasterCard helps you enjoy life without accruing massive amounts of debt. Don’t be afraid to use coupons and use these five tips to cut back on your expenses.
1. Make Your Own Lunch
It doesn’t sound terribly glamorous, but packing a lunch every day can save you a big chunk of change in the long run. While fast food is convenient and easy, it’s not great for your body or your wallet.
If you have a hard time getting up early enough to pack yourself a “free” lunch, prepare your brown bag lunch at night and simply grab it on your way out the door. The sacrifice you make during the day will pay off in extra cash to spend with friends at night.
2. Don’t be a Brand Name Snob
Sure, mom always bought the best type of soap and salad dressing, but it’s time to face your new reality. You don’t have mom’s budget and it’s time you cut back in order to prove you can make it on your own.
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Buying generic brands at the grocery store can save you a bundle on your grocery budget, and the hidden benefit is that most generic products are very similar to their name brand counterparts in taste and function.
3. Cut Coupons
Cutting coupons doesn’t have to mean that you’ve hit an extreme level of cheap. Coupons come in the weekly paper and can even be printed online. Many weekly ads contain coupons that include items you use regularly. If you don’t get the paper, check the store you’re visiting to see if they have an extra ad with money saving coupons inside them.
Many stores will price match with another store, saving you the time it takes to shop at different stores with different deals. Before you visit the grocery store, make a list of items that are on sale at other stores and visit one that price matches to complete your grocery list.
4. Avoid Your Weaknesses
If you’ve never entered the mall without whipping out your credit card, the best thing to do is to simply stay away from the stores. If you can’t resist getting an extra drink with dinner, you might want to eat in for a few nights. Remove your weaknesses from your reach if you find you simply can’t control them. It may be too difficult to resist temptation when it’s in front of you, so your safest bet is to avoid the situation altogether.
5. Unite with Your Friends
As a college student, many of your friends are in a similar financial boat. Rather than trying to outdo each other by spending money you don’t have, enlist their help and take advantage of all the free things you can do. Participate in campus activities or spend the night in together in an effort to save money. You’ll enjoy your life as a brand new adult without the hefty weight of debts you can’t pay.