I consider myself an average college student. I don’t have an abundance of money at my disposal so I’ve had to adopt a frugal lifestyle. When thinking about the future, and the student loans I am going to accumulate, I made saving money a top priority. I told myself that until my college degree pays off, I would use different tips, tricks and hacks to help me cut back on some expenses. In this blog post, I am going to share five frugal hacks that actually work!
1. Extreme couponing: College style
Couponing may seem old fashioned, but it’s an extremely effective way to save money. You can choose to go old school and manually cut the coupons out of the Sunday paper or you can find them online. I use websites like RetailMeNot to find coupons, discounts and coupon codes. Before I buy anything, I hunt for coupons. Nine times out of ten, I successfully find some sort of discount. Even if it’s 10 percent, every penny counts!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask about student discounts and freebies
Never be afraid to ask what type of discount your student ID gets. There are multiple restaurants, stores, and even transportation companies that give students discounts and even free things. Amazon, Apple, and Greyhound are just some of the many companies that give students discounts. Being a college student has its perks, so use them!
3. Stay in for dinner
Going out to dinner is one of my favorite forms of entertainment, but I came to find that it adds up quickly. I am going to use another example because, in my opinion, that paints the clearest picture.
Let’s say, in the month of October, you went out to dinner 8 total times. Each time you go out you get a beverage and a meal which ends up costing you $15. 8 different occasions X $15 dollars will end up costing $120.
With that $120 you could have bought:
• 10 3 lb boxes of pasta for $29.40 ($2.94 each)
• 2 66 oz cans of pasta sauce for $7.00 ($3.50 each)
• 2 cases of water each containing 40 16.9 oz bottles for $7.69 ($3.98 each)
• 20 10.8 oz bags of frozen broccoli for $20.00 ($1.00)
• 20 frozen dinners for $40.00 ($2.00 each)
The total of all that food costs around $104.09, which is still cheaper than the cost of the eight restaurant meals. So, instead of going out to eat you could have all this food and some extra cash in your pocket.
Another frugal tip: buy generic brands when grocery shopping to save extra money.
4. Refurbished electronics
I’m a big fan of buying refurbished electronics; I even talked about it before in a previous blog post. Buying the latest technology can put a large dent in your wallet, which is why I suggest you opt for a refurbished option. You may think because it is refurbished it won’t work as well, but that’s not true. Refurbished items were once broken, then fixed, and then resold. Or sometimes refurbished items are barely used, and re-stocked. Either way, they are also much cheaper. I got my Macbook Air refurbished and I’ve had it now for two years and it works perfectly fine.
5. Ditch the $5 cappuccino
My weakness is buying a cup of coffee on my way to work or school. In the moment, $3-5 dollars seems so little, but if you add it up, the results will shock you.
Let’s say you get a $5 dollar cup of coffee every other day in October. Sixteen cups of coffee at $5 each equals $80. At your local store, $80 of ground coffee ($7.94 24oz.) could make you 2,100 cups of Joe compared to the 16.
Sometimes, we overlook tiny costs because we think they are irrelevant. As you learned here, they are not. Tiny costs can add up quickly and can even cost you more money than anticipated.
If you want to be frugal you have to be aware your money situation, and by that I mean respect your budget! Spending blindly can lead to financial turmoil and who wants that? I use iontuition’s ionManage tool to create and manage my budget. I really like this feature because you can personalize it completely, even the notifications. I set my notifications to remind me a week in advance before any payment is due. This way, I can stay on top of my finances.
Saving depends on the choices you make with your money. So, what is your choice?
As Blogger and budget aficionado, Tara K. helps students across the country enhance their knowledge about money management and everyday life. She is constantly looking for new ideas to transform into great advice for you. Pursuing a journalism major, Tara K. has a passion for the art of inquiry, which is conveyed through her writing.