We have all been there, so do not by any means panic! You’re out on your own for the first time, you’re handling all these new responsibilities and maybe don’t have the time to cook or shop for deals, and maybe you like your weekly trip to the Oshawa Centre because it’s a social outing! I get it, believe me I do! I also understand that this may be burning a hole in your pocket and like first-year me, you might need a few tips and tricks to get your spending back on track so let’s see if first-year me can help you out!
Tip 1: Limit your restaurant and fast food outings to once a week
Unless you are on residence with a meal plan, you haven’t paid for all your meals up front and will be dropping anywhere from 10-20 dollars each time you go out. You will really be cutting it close to the 20-dollar mark if you are doing dinner outings so let’s try and limit ourselves in terms of multiple outings! Worried about missing the social aspect of going out? Suggest a potluck dinner with friends! Everyone can make a little something at home or the residence kitchens from ingredients they may already have!
Tip 2: Make a weekly or monthly spending jar
I’ll be honest here, I got this idea after months of watching “Till Debt Do Us Part” on Slice with my parents when I lived at home. Basically, the goal is to take out cash at the beginning of the week or month, make mini spending jars or baggies, and delegate your spending for certain causes in each bag. Label a bag for food, one for entertainment & clothes, and one for health. Your food spending should be a bit bigger and you should account for your grocery shopping and one food outing a week. The entertainment section should be kept smaller ($25 a week or so) and would include going out once to the movies or maybe buying that bomber jacket from Urban Planet you’ve been eyeing. The health section would include your toiletries or something like Vitamin C and D to keep your immune system up during midterm season! By limiting yourself to the baggies each week, you avoid any frivolous extra spending that is outside your means.
Tip 3: Stop the online shopping with the cart method
This may or may not work for you, and if it won't? Skip this step. The cart method refers to online shopping without actually pushing the checkout button. Forever 21 online shopping is my weakness and I’ve found that I get almost as much satisfaction by adding the item to the cart that I do opening the box and having the item that doesn’t actually fit me that well hang on my hanger for six months before I donate it. I wish I was kidding but this has happened countless times and before Oshawa Centre got an F21, returning was a hassle! Which brings me to my next point.
Tip 4: Put in the time to save money
Purchase the wrong thing but don’t want to go all the way back to the store to return it? Do it, trust me you’ll feel better about it. Maybe link the trip to return the item with your next grocery shop. Also, don’t be afraid of waiting it out. Sales happen often whether that be on food or on that denim button-up you know you can rock. If the sale doesn’t happen, save up your weekly entertainment allotments from Step 2 for two weeks so you can buy it without throwing off your budget!
Tip 5: Track your spending
In high school, my mom told me to start writing down everything I spend in a little notebook to really see what I was spending. Now I have online banking and a cash back Visa so I mean, everything goes on there and is paid off, but I can do the same thing. It’s very effective in real time to see what your money is going toward and to put into perspective how much money you may be burning each week!
In summary fellow student, cut down your spending. Easier said than done, but I hope some of my little tips and tricks can help you onto the path of money-saving!