The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
It’s no secret that college and everything that goes with it is expensive. From tuition and housing, to textbooks and school supplies, to food and that new rain jacket you just bought for those impending rainy winter days, your bank account can scream for a reprieve. And it’s easy to say “oh, I’m just going to stop spending money,” but that’s not necessarily realistic.
Never scared! Saving money in college is possible and totally doable. And, lucky for you, I know exactly how to do it! In 4 simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to cultivating financial freedom in no time.
Step 1: Study your expenses
Reviewing your spending can be as simple as keeping a spending diary. I know, recording all your expenses sounds a bit elementary, but I promise it really helps you save your money. You can keep a spending diary anywhere it’s convenient for you: in your notes app on your phone, in a notebook, or even using a application-as you wish. The most important thing is that you start tracking your spending so you can see where your money is going.
Every time you buy something, write down that expense, write down the date and how much money you spent. For example: November 10, $35.30 groceries. Then, at the end of each week, you can check your spending journal, assess your expenses, and determine if you’re spending money on unnecessary items that are draining your bank account.
Step 2: Set a budget and stick to it
Now that you have a good idea of how much money you spend each week, you can set a budget. When building your budget, it is important that you determine exactly what you are spending your money on. Is it food? Clothes? Shoes? Transportation? Either way, identify your expenses and allocate specific amounts of money to spend each week on these items.
Budgeting is very simple, but it’s something that so many people, especially college students, neglect to do because it can feel like just another task to add to our endless to-do lists. Creating a budget doesn’t have to be stressful; you can protect your savings while having fun with your money. I would suggest setting aside some money in your weekly budget for fun things like going out for ice cream with your friends or taking yourself to the movies to decompress from the school week. Having a budget and sticking to it is the key to having tax fun while making sure you don’t run out of savings.
Step 3: Hatch a Side Hustle
Who doesn’t love having a little extra spending money? I know I definitely do! Taking a side hustle is the perfect way to earn some cash and have fun while you’re at it. When looking for a side hustle, think about the kinds of unique skills or hobbies you have that you could monetize. Are you into fashion? Try to sell your clothes on posh mark Where Depop! Do you like meeting new people and making small talk? Apply for a job at your favorite local cafe! Do you excel in school? Use your intelligence to your advantage and start a tutoring service! Making money can really be as simple as tapping into your creativity and finding ways to practice your particular skills. Your hobbies and talents could be your key to becoming financially free! How cool is that?
Step 4: Remove 10%
Once you’ve found your side hustle and started making money, the first thing you might want to do is go out and treat yourself to that new pair of shoes you’ve been coveting. And, I hear you, those shoes are really cute, but the first thing you should do when you get a paycheck or start making money from your side business is put at least 10% of this money in a savings account. This way you can start building up your savings and create an extra cash cushion to use in an emergency.
Like I said, saving money and cultivating financial freedom in college is possible. All you have to do is assess your expenses, set a budget, organize a side activity and set aside that 10%. If you’ve never kept a spending diary before, made a budget for yourself, had a job, or received a paycheck of any kind, all of this information may have seemed overwhelming, and I understand. that. But, I promise you, if you take a few deep breaths, push through the submersion, and follow these 4 steps, your future self and your wallet will thank you!