Money Managing Tips

Money management can often be a constant struggle. It’s a difficult skill to master, especially if you don’t know where to start. Practicing money management now is important because you’ll use it for the rest of your life. As college students, we can all benefit from some penny-pinching, so here are a few tips on how to be smart with your money.

Look for Generic Brands

Generic brands are often the exact same product as the more expensive name brands. Sometimes they’re even made in the same factory! There’s no real reason to pay more for Kleenex when Target brand facial tissues are just as soft. Some things are worth buying name brand—for example, I think real Oreos are so much better than any generic I’ve tried! But for most stuff, you end up paying extra for nothing but a fancy name. I save a lot of money by choosing store brands whenever possible.

Use Coupons

No one really clips coupons out of the newspaper anymore, but there are plenty of digital alternatives. Target has its own app with tons of coupons and deals, and all you have to do is scan the barcode as you put something in your cart. There are other apps that apply to a lot of stores, such as Ibotta. Ibotta has manufacturer rebates that can be used at a variety of places and redeemed for cash or gift cards. If you frequently shop online, Ebates and Honey Gold are both cash-back websites that give you a percent of your purchase back. Additionally, a lot of places give discounts to college students.

Don’t Fall into the Sales Trap

As great as coupons and sales are, they can also be tricky. Buying an item at 30% off feels like a steal, but if another brand costs less even after that discount, you’re still spending more than you need to. Flashy signs about discounts can distract you from even better deals on the same product. Also, remember that if you weren’t going to buy it before the sale you aren’t saving money but spending extra. Of course, there are things that are great to stock up on during sales, like toothpaste or something else you know you’ll need to buy eventually.

Look in Multiple Places

Sometimes, even when you shop generic brands and use coupons, certain things are just more expensive in different stores. That’s why price-checking multiple stores can be really useful. A lot of stores will price match and some will even apply an additional discount on top of that, so it pays to be aware of price differences even if you only want to stop in one place. Finding a deal doesn’t mean that there won’t be a better one out there: I buy generic allergy medicine because it’s a lot cheaper than the name brand, but I recently found out that a different store sells their generic kind for ¼ of the amount I had been paying! I’m saving more than $20 every time I need to refill and I wish I had price-checked years ago.

Being thoughtful about what you purchase and knowledgeable about good deals is a huge step toward good money management! We all love saving money and the resources to help are out there. Practicing money management every time you shop will go a long way toward making it a habit which will benefit you for the rest of your life.