8. Avoid shopping (did we really just say that?!)
As a fashionista and young woman totally obsessed with shopping, I know staying away from your favorite stores can be incredibly difficult. “The danger is that you’re on a computer all day, every day. If you’re procrastinating, you end up on a shopping site and before you know it you’re buying something,” says Duguay. If you’re guilty of this habit, be aware of it so you can curb and kick your habit sooner rather than later.
Here are some of my favorite tricks for avoiding both the mall and virtual sales:
- Unsubscribe from all those pesky emails. While it’s great to know that Banana Republic is offering 25 percent off and free shipping, that’s still 75 percent you don’t need to be spending. Yes, RueLaLa and Gilt count too! If you don’t want to delete your accounts on these sites, create email filters instead so those messages go into one folder that you only check once a week.
- Swap! Read this great story about swapping and swap.com to get the gist of what swapping is all about. Check for local events in your city—a perfect way to get rid of the clothing you never wear and get some new finds without spending much money at all!
- Shop with a purpose. If you’ve got to shop, make sure you have a specific item in mind. Need a black cardigan or a pair of dress pants? Only go to the one store that you know will have that item and avoid looking at other things.
- Hit up Goodwill, Filene’s Basement, Marshalls or other thrift stores. If you’ve got to get your shopping fix, stores like Marshalls and Filene’s Basement have great sales and discounted prices. And if you’re comfortable and have some patience, thrift stores have some fabulous finds for very little money!
- Be aware of what stores offer student discounts and ask about them. You can save anywhere from five to twenty percent just by presenting your student ID! Check out this great list of retailers that offer student discounts.
9. Sign up for Netflix
For the price of one movie ticket or just two Blockbuster rentals you can sign up for a Netflix account that lets you rent an unlimited number of DVDs through the mail. You can also stream hundreds of movies right to your TV or computer. It won’t kill you to wait three months until a movie is out on DVD, and you save yourself a ton of dough!
10. Stay in with friends
Often when we hang out with our girlfriends we’re tempted to go out to dinner and drinks, which gets to be incredibly expensive. Even just heading out for a quick bite to eat or a cup of coffee for some catch-up time can be expensive. If you’re looking for some one-on-one girl time, invite your friends over to your apartment. Do your nails, cook a meal together, read or collage with magazines you’ve got laying around or watch a DVD you already own. Instead of dinner out, pick an easy recipe and have each girl bring over one of two of the ingredients. "Making group dinner with friends can be more fun than going out," says Erin Calder, a recent Northeastern University graduate. "You get to have bonding time in the kitchen and avoid paying for expensive drinks or entrees. Plus, you don't have to worry about waiting for a table or tipping a waiter or waitress!"
Don’t love to cook? You’re not alone. “You can stay in and order in Chinese food and it will still be much cheaper than going out to a restaurant,” said Duguay. Check out sites like GrubHub.com or Foodler for take-out places of every food type and price range that will deliver right to you.
Avoid going out for cocktails that ring up at $10 a drink and have friends bring over alcohol and a mixer so you can make a round of drinks on your own. Check out Easy Cocktail Recipes for some fun, easy drink recipes… no tipping necessary!
11. Learn how to cook
Eating out once in a while can be fun, but going to restaurants all the time can definitely add up. You don’t even need to buy a cookbook for this one—just search for online recipes and pull your laptop into the kitchen. Can’t come up with a good idea? Websites like “What the f*ck should I make for dinner" will automatically suggest recipes for you to try. My favorites are websites like Recipe Key and Super Cook, which let you input ingredients you already have at home and then automatically suggest a recipe so that a trip to the grocery store isn’t even necessary! Check out this great HC guide to cooking for yourself.
12. Looking for more ideas?
Check out Google’s TipJar and browse hundreds of different budgeting ideas from people all across the country. Tips are rated and ranked, and you can poke around for ideas that work best for you and your lifestyle. Good luck saving collegiettes!
Kate Zasada, Northeastern University graduate, 2010
Erin Calder, Northeastern University graduate, 2011
Dara Duguay, author of Please Send Money: A Financial Survival Guide for Young Adults on Their Own
Beth Kobliner, author of the New York Times bestseller Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties