College can be a challenging time to get by, let alone save. However, there are a few tricks to help you. Here’s how to start saving while in college.
Wondering how you can plan for the future while you’re surviving in the present?
The college years are an expensive time in our lives. But the sooner we start saving, the more we’ll have in the long run. That’s why it’s better to get in the habit early. Besides, if you can save at college, when can’t you save?
Wondering how to start saving? Don’t worry, we’ve put together this handy guide.
Work Out Your Goals So You Can Learn How To Start Saving
You can’t run a race if you don’t know where the finish line is.
Get your goals in order when you start saving. Work out your targets for both long- and short-term goals.
If you’re saving for a car, figure out what you’re willing to spend and over what time period you’ll save. Saving for retirement is much the same principle, just on a longer time-scale.
Plenty of financial institutions offer retirement calculators. They’ll help you calculate how much you need to put away on a monthly basis to save money for retirement.
Use a Savings Tool
If you struggle to visualize your savings or just want some extra help, consider some automated support.
Many banks offer savings tools so you can figure out how to start saving. You can set an amount and a deadline, and let the bank work out how much you need to put away per month. You can get real-time feedback on how well you’re doing.
Or you can take it a step further and use an automated saving tool. These use smart algorithms to work out how much you can save. They then withdraw that amount to a savings account automatically. It may surprise you to see how much you have “left over”.
Avoid Extra Debt
For many people, college simply isn’t affordable without the aid of student loans.
It’s true that some things in life are often unreachable without loans. But taking on loans creates a dangerous psychological feedback glitch.
When you already have a significant amount of loans, you might ask yourself “What’s one more?”
That’s the trap you want to avoid. Debt is debt – the more you have, the less you can save. Taking on more debt because it’s only small compared to your current debts is a mistake.
Live within your means and save debt for the really big stuff if you can’t avoid it altogether. Don’t burn out the credit card on flashy purchases. It’s still your money you’re spending, as you’ll find out when it comes time to pay it back.
But interest is the real killer here. You’ll end up paying back far more than you borrowed if you fail to stay on top of your debts. At that point, you’re throwing money down the drain.
Track What You Spend
College is a time of freedom and exploration. So you could say it’s the exact wrong climate to learn how to start saving.
But the sooner you learn, the sooner your savings can start to build. Keep a close eye on what you spend. Money can feel artificial in college, but it’s very real. What you spend now will shape your future.
Don’t ignore your bank statement. If you can, keep a spreadsheet to monitor your costs. You don’t have to spend hours poring over it. Basic awareness goes a long way when you’re learning how to start saving.
At the most basic level, tracking your spend will show you whether you’re spending more than you earn. It sounds basic, but it may surprise you to see how easily you can end up living beyond your means.
Tracking your money will also show you where you can easily cut expenses. Look for any patterns which could show you where you can adjust your spending. Shaving off just a few of these could help you save a significant amount even in a single month.
Cheapskate = Great
There’s no shame in getting things cheap. The only person who’ll likely notice is you – when you have more cash at the end of the month.
Textbooks are a killer for college students. The same can be said of laptops and other stuff you’ll need for your education.
Don’t be afraid to buy used or accept hand-me-downs. You’ll end up with the same result for less cost.
Try to shop at cheaper retailers when buying groceries. Buying in bulk is another great way to cut costs. In many cases, you can half what you would spend just by going to the right stores.
Stay in the Zone
College should be fun, but it’s not the main reason you’re going.
If you fall behind in your studies, you’ll need to take extra semesters. That means additional expenses. Not only will you need to pay additional fees, but also the extra living costs, too.
Stay focused on your education. Use your college resources to boost your learning.
Try to hang out with other students focused on their education first. You’ll still have fun, but you won’t end up distracted from your studies by a life of booze and parties.
Cut the Little Stuff
Food to go, coffees on the move – it’s amazing how the daily expenses add up.
By scaling back your daytime spends, you can save huge amounts of cash. Even spending $2 every weekday totals $40 by the end of the month.
Crazy, isn’t it?
Prep your lunches in advance to avoid eating out. Make your food in batches so you don’t need to buy something new every evening. Limit eating out to special occasions.
It can be tough to drop the habit of spending whenever you go outside. After all, we’re bombarded with advertising constantly. But break the habit and it’ll pay off in a huge way.
How To Start Saving – Explained
These tips should get your savings off to a good start. But seek out advice wherever you can find it, especially from your seniors. You’ll often learn as much from what they didn’t do as what they did. Once you start to learn about it, you’ll discover saving isn’t as tough as it’s made out to be.
Looking for more advice?
This post has been written by a guest.