Ah, the life of a broke college student. With all of the living expenses thrown your way, financial literacy is an important skill to master during your time at college. Of course, everyone’s financial background and situation is different, but regardless, it is important to learn how to budget and save your money responsibly early on in your adult life. Over the past few years, I have learned just how beneficial and critical it is to develop sound money spending and saving habits now so that I will be less likely to make any grave money mistakes in the future.
But saving money is daunting in college. Most college students do not have a large income, and it often seems like every payday you’re left with $10 after paying your bills, setting aside money for school-related purchases like books, and buying groceries. There are ways, though, to budget your money in a way that allows you to pay for all of your essential needs and still have some money leftover for saving (and fun purchases too!)
One trick I’ve adapted to help me save money in college is getting an automatic savings app. At the end of last year, I downloaded the app Digit, which pulls money out of my account Monday through Friday and saves it for me in the app. What I love about Digit is that it learns your spending habits, particularly any bills or monthly payments you regularly make. The app then uses this information to make sure that it doesn’t take too much money out of your account if it knows that you have any bills coming up! Digit also allows you to pause saving whenever you want and set a low balance protection plan so that it doesn’t save any money for you if your account is below the dollar amount you set (if your account drops below this amount, it also will pull some of your saved money and put it back into your account.)
While the app is $2.99 a month, I have found that it has helped me save money quickly without even having to do anything! Digit ensures that I am always saving money, and it made saving a lot less intimidating as well!
Another budgeting tactic I use is buying cheaper alternatives when it comes to household essentials such as paper towels, trash bags, etc. Finding less expensive brands and stores that sell quality items is a great way to save money! Grocery shopping at Aldis and buying non-name brand household items that do not need to be the highest quality has allowed me to have extra money every month to save and to spend on the things that I like to treat myself to, like Starbucks and going out to eat with my friends. Determining what items are worth the splurge and what you can cut back on is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to budget your money in a smarter way. It costs you nothing and also helps you cut out any unnecessary expenses!
I’ve also learned that it’s important to realize that there is no good or bad amount of money to save. Saving is saving, so if you can only afford to save $5 every two weeks, do that! Having some money set aside for emergencies and large expenses will always be better than having no money saved at all. Just be sure that you never save more money than you can afford. You might have to adjust your savings amount if your bills increase or you have a big payment coming up, but never let the amount discourage you from saving and budgeting your money. 🙂