Going For (Not) Broke
We’re one month into the semester (yes, a month!), and I’m curious if anyone else is feeling the squeeze like me. The squeeze I’m referring to is the gradual trickle of money out of your reserve of funds saved up from working over the break, or maybe an amount gifted by a family member over the holidays who took pity on you and your thinning wallet.
Don’t fret. I’ve composed a list of straight-forward, creative hacks for saving, making, and spending money in a way that will make sure you’re not living on a ramen-centric diet. From coupons to cutting down on expenses, here are 10 ways to not go broke.
- Check the back of your receipts.
This first tip was given by junior Camila Ramirez. From HEB receipts to McDonald’s receipts, many of these receipts will have coupons for their establishment or others, as well as surveys you can complete to receive free products. So before trashing those receipts, make sure you cash in on them!
- Utilize apps.
One of my favorite apps for saving money is the HEB app. The HEB app is wonderfully convenient, as it has information about prices, coupons, and even the location of an item you’re looking for in your store. It’s also a dream come true for a person obsessed with creating and completing lists. You’re able to add items to your shopping list, browse through the current coupons being offered for them, and then at the end of your grocery trip it’s as simple as the scan of a barcode on your app to add your coupons to your purchase. Viola! You’ve now become a responsible, coupon-clipping adult.
- Don’t save your card info to your phone or computer.
Do not, I repeat, do not, save your credit or debit card information on your devices. In fact, put your cards inside a bag, inside a box, inside a bigger box, and put them on a very high shelf where you have to employ a step ladder or a very tall person to reach them. Most of the time, if I’m making an impulse online purchase, I’m a lot more likely to hit the “Confirm Order” button if my card information is already saved to my device opposed to if I had to get my card out of my wallet and type in all the information. So make things harder on yourself now, because it’ll undoubtedly make things easier on you and your wallet in the future.
- Poshmark and ThredUp
I’ve always had the intent to use Poshmark, an app in which you can both sell and buy used items from other app users, but never followed through because I felt like it would be way too much work. It’s actually way easier than you’d think! Start by making an account. Choose a nice profile picture of yourself or your dog and, follow as many people selling similar items to you as possible. Once you’ve established a solid profile, start Poshmarking! Make sure your feed has a nice aesthetic (mine looks like something out of a steam-punk catalog), and make sure that the pictures of your items are well-lit and crystal clear. Be sure to show your items from three to four angles. Put in as much information as you can about your item, upload, and wait for the offers to roll in. I recommend selling jewelry, especially when it’s name brand. You’ll be amazed at how easy they are to sell! Another way to get rid of old items is to send them to an online thrift store called Thred Up. While Poshmark is more for selling name brand items still in excellent condition, I recommend ThredUp as a way to get rid of a large amount of lower priced items that you decided to discard after cleaning out your closet for the first time in two years.
It’s much easier (order a Clean-out Kit from the site, follow the instructions and you’re set), however, it does take longer and the payout is significantly lower. This is the route I would recommend if you’re already set on getting rid of clothing, but would rather make a bit of money instead of donating to Goodwill.
Even if you don’t get a big payout, ThredUp will take your items that they don’t accept and recycle them responsibly, preventing them from ending up in landfills. You’ll be frugal and environmentally friendly!
- The 52 Week Plan
The 52 week plan is an incremental savings plan which allows you to stockpile money in a simple, structured way. In this plan, you begin your year by saving $1 the first week, then increasing the amount by $1 every week afterwards. By the end of the 52 weeks you’ll have saved $1,378. However, college budgets are not exactly predictable, so I’ve tweaked the plan a bit to adjust for weeks in which I make less money or accumulate more expenses. I’ve recorded 52 different amounts to be saved and each week I can choose a different amount based on what I’m comfortable with. For instance, for 5 weeks I’ve allocated $1, for 10 weeks I’ve allocated $5, and so on. This is a more forgiving and flexible method than the original plan and easier to stick to as well.
Of course, you can adjust the plan to a specific amount of time as well. For instance, if you’re saving for a summer vacation and you know the ball-park total cost, you can plan accordingly to make sure that by the end of the period you have enough saved up to make sure you’ll be able buy the round trip ticket to get back home.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Like any habit you try to adopt, saving money takes practice. You’ll make mistakes and you can’t expect yourself to be perfect. You’ll splurge on new clothes or spend way too much on a night out with friends, and possibly dip into your savings. The most important thing is to not get discouraged, stick to your guns, and not lose sight of the reasons you want to save money, whether it be to afford to travel, to become financially independent, or to pay off your student loans before your 50s.
Good luck and happy savings!