4 Financial Tips for Living on a Budget

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Our Guest Blogger is Emma, one of our awesome tutors! 

Every college student knows the struggle of trying to make a little money go a long way: between books, school fees, living costs, and food, there are a lot of places my money seems to go. I’m convinced that part of the college experience is learning how to become a more conscious spender. Living on a budget can be difficult, but I’ve found it easier by following these four tips:

Keep track of your expenses. Most people use credit cards or Venmo these days, and having cash on hand is rare. This makes it fairly easy to lose track of how much money you spend, because you don’t see the physical money being depleted. It also gets confusing to keep track of expenses when you use multiple bank accounts. In order to keep track of my money, I use a Microsoft Excel sheet. I break down all of my expenses into categories that include rent, groceries, gasoline, and “other.” In the same sheet I also input how much incoming money I have. By keeping track of incoming and outgoing money, you can make sure to never spend more than you make.

Avoid eating out. Eating at restaurants and going out with friends is easy and fun, but the cost quickly adds up. What I spend during one meal out with friends can be half of what I usually pay every week at the grocery store. To save money, I try to eat out as little as possible and make most of my food at home. This tip is not only good for your wallet—cooking your own food with fresh ingredients is probably better for your health, too! Plus, when you cook often, you will quickly learn how to become a good chef.

Keep an eye out for deals. When I go grocery shopping, I always look for good deals. Some people like to clip coupons in weekly advertisement magazines, or look up certain weekly deals at grocery stores. I also try to save money by purchasing generic or store-brand items instead of name-brand ones. Another piece of advice is to buy fresh or canned foods instead of pre-packaged or frozen meals, which are often very expensive for the amount of food you actually get. When I go to the grocery store, I always keep an eye out for yummy products that are on sale, and this way I end up buying a lot of food for relatively little money.

Be sustainable. You can do this by investing in reusable water bottles or travel mugs. This will help you save money by refilling with tap water instead of buying new water bottles. Having a travel mug makes it easy to brew coffee or tea at home instead of buying it at a coffee shop every day on your way to school or work. Using public transportation is also a way to be sustainable and save money on gas. Instead of paying around $100 a month on gasoline (not to mention the additional costs of maintaining a vehicle like oil changes, car washes, or monthly car payments), you could pay drastically less by getting a monthly bus, metro, or trolley pass. These money-saving habits reduce your waste and carbon footprint, so you are helping the environment and your wallet!

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