While going out to eat and seeing your favorite band in concert once in a while is okay, small expenditures can really add up over time. You may think you’re saving money by not buying new clothes at the mall each weekend, but little things like regular visits to Starbucks will zap your account. It’s never too early to start saving money for spring break and for the summer, so follow these tips to see your account balance increase!
1. Instead of paying for drinks on Friday and Saturday nights, try some (responsible) pre-gaming at your apartment with your friends (if you’re of age).
While nothing beats ordering a fancy drink at the bar, your tab can really start to add up after a few rounds. You don’t have to give up cocktails forever, but make a pledge with your friends to only order one drink each at the bar, and make the rest at home.
Besides, playing bartender can be fun! You can add whichever ingredients you want, and your pals won’t judge you if you don’t know what actually goes in a certain drink. At-home drinks are also a great way to figure out what you like and don’t like, so you’ll know exactly what to order next time you head to the bar. Never pregame by yourself, though – this money saver is best spent with friends since you won’t have a bartender to cut you off. Have one person agree to stay sober and keep everyone else responsible if you choose to drink, whether you’re out or at home.
2. Instead of buying weekly movie tickets, try a Netflix subscription.
If you’ve been hesitant to shell out for a Netflix subscription, split the price with a few pals, so it’s only a few dollars each per month. Netflix is just $7.99 a month no matter how many films and TV shows you watch – that’s about as much as you’d pay to see just one movie in theaters! And if you split the price with even one other friend, that’s less than five dollars a month for each of you to pay.
You’ll have to create one username for all of you, but you can access your account from up to ten machines so that each of you can watch instant movies on your laptop when you aren’t together. You won’t be able to see movies as soon as they’re released, but aren’t all rom-coms sort of the same anyway? You should also check out your campus movie center – they’ve probably got tons more options than Redbox, and many schools offer viewing rooms where you can watch with your friends on campus!
Some movie studios, like Universal, also partner with campus organizations to set up theater-like movie showings on weekends. Through these programs, you can catch movies in the time between theaters and DVD releases, and rent out an auditorium in the student union for an authentic movie theater feel. See if your campus has these viewings on weekends – hey, you might as well get the most out of your student fees!
3. Instead of buying a new dress for a formal, borrow one.
With sites like Rent the Runway making a splash on college campuses across the nation, there’s no excuse for paying hundreds for a dress you’ll probably only wear once. Dress rental prices range from $40 to over $200, plus a shipping fee. But since their garments are designer pieces that retail for hundreds (some of them even thousands!), this is a great deal even for a rental.
Rent the Runway has tons of designer options from Tibi to Herve Leger, and they get new dresses in all the time! They send you the dress in two sizes in case one doesn’t fit, and also offer an insurance option in case you break a zipper or spill some wine. And, the site has accessorizes like bags and jewelry available to rent, too! How’s that for a deal?
If Rent the Runway is still a bit out of your price range, you can always borrow a dress the old-fashioned way – from a friend! Find an older sorority sister, roommate or girl on your hall who has a frock she won’t mind letting you wear. Make sure you offer to pay for the dry cleaning, though!
4. Instead of trips to Starbucks a couple days a week, try brewing your own coffee and taking it in a to-go cup.
When you think of making your own coffee, you probably think of the thermos a 50-year-old secretary brings to an office job, complete with bright pink lipstick stains. But with the rise of eco-friendly products, to-go cups are more stylish and affordable than ever! You can even get ones that look like actual luxury coffee cups, like a plastic Starbucks cup that you can buy there. After a couple weeks, that cup will have paid for itself
If you don’t have a coffee machine, you can still make your own coffee without breaking a sweat. Nestle and Starbucks make individual powder packets that just require adding hot water, and taste better than other coffee powders since they’re each sealed separately. Treat yourself to a few different CoffeeMate flavors and sweeteners to make it seem like you’re still getting that gourmet caramel latte. You’ll wonder why you ever paid more in the first place!
5. Instead of splurging at convenience stores, make your own on-the-go lunches and snacks.
When you’ve got class and work right after each other, sometimes nothing looks better than that energy bar in the campus convenience shop. But even small campus purchases add up, and aren’t as cheap as they seem! If you spend just $5 each weekday on campus food, that’s $125 a month – if you work part-time for minimum wage, that’s almost half of your month’s wages. So much for saving, huh?
If you know you’re going to be on campus for an extended time and aren’t going to be able to eat a proper meal, plan accordingly. Bring a water bottle and a few snacks from home – it’s always cheaper to buy in bulk – so you won’t be tempted to buy a snack on campus. If you have to pack a lunch, bring some healthy staples like sandwiches and pieces of fruit. You and your wallet will both stay full!
6. Instead of paying for eyebrow waxing, take matters into your own hands.
At around $10 for each waxing session, that’s more than $100 a year. Yikes! Invest in a quality pair of tweezers – it’ll seem like a splurge now, but that $25 will pay off after just a few uses. The same goes for facial bleach kits – they go for around $20, which may seem steep, but not when you think about how many uses you’ll get from one kit versus one spa trip.
Even the bushiest of eyebrows can be tweezed if you have patience, and besides, bold brows are in this season!
As for other facial hair on your upper lip and chin, try an at-home bleach or hair removal kit. The first few times will be tricky, but once you’ve mastered the product, you’ll be able to get rid of hair like a pro. And you’ll save time as well as money by not going to the spa.
7. Instead of paying for shipping, go online shopping with your friends.
Most stores have a minimum purchase – usually between $50 and $100 – required for free shipping. If you’re trying to save money, you probably don’t want to buy that much stuff at once, but that doesn’t mean you should have to pay between $8 and $10 for shipping. Ask around and see if any of your friends have been meaning to buy something from the store you’re looking at, and place one group order so you won’t have to pay the shipping fee.
8. Instead of weekly shopping trips, buy your basics in bulk.
Grabbing cotton pads at the dollar store and toilet paper at Target seem like harmless – and necessary – purchases, but if you buy staple items on Amazon (or at stores like Sam’s Club if you have a membership), you’ll save big. You can buy everything from paper towels to Solo cups on Amazon, so set up an account with the site and prepare to save!
9. Instead of buying your books from the campus bookstore, buy them from cheaper websites or rent them.
It’s convenient to buy your class textbooks on campus, but you can find much better deals at local, independent bookstores and online. Some websites, like Chegg also offer the option of renting books, which is much easier than going through the sellback process and is great for classes for which you know you won’t want to keep the books. If you can’t sell back some of your books to the student bookstores because they aren’t accepting the edition you used, use Facebook and Twitter to see if you know anyone who would buy the book from you. Chances are, you have a friend who’s taking the same class and would love to help you out!
10. Instead of surfing the internet and watching reruns of Gossip Girl in your off hours, get a job!
Many universities offer on-campus jobs at places like student libraries and the union, as well as campus stores and restaurants, so do some research and see if anywhere at your school is hiring. If you can’t commit to a regular schedule each week, offer babysitting and other care services to professors whom you know have kids. You can also find tons of babysitting ads in the classified sections of your campus or local newspapers, so look there, too!
With these easy, money-saving strategies, you’ll have some extra dough saved up in no time! And hey, nothing wrong with rewarding your wise saving with a little shopping trip, right?