Little Ways to Save Big This Year

A new semester brings tons of unexpected and unwelcomed costs. Your books were $100 more than expected, rent is due, your tuition bill just arrived, you have to restock your fridge after your month away from school, and holiday gifts have left your bank account empty. Your wallet is begging you to stop spending money and you may think it’s impossible to cut back. However, saving a little money at a time can add up to a lot. Here are some simple ways to save big this year:

1. Cut back on coffee.

Okay, I know you might think your daily Starbucks run is a need, not a want, but there are cheaper ways to get your caffeine. Say you buy one grande cup of brewed coffee at Starbucks for $2.10 four times per week. That adds up to $8.40 total in coffee per week. This might not seem like much, but coffee would be costing you $8.40 per week, $33.60 per month and $403.20 per year. Also, $2.10 for a cup of coffee is a low price compared to the specialty brews, like the $4.15 Cafe Mocha and the $4.95 Pumpkin Spice Latte. Now, if you brew your own coffee at home, your savings are incredible. If you buy a bag of Starbucks ground coffee for $14, you’ll be able to get 50 cups of coffee out of it, equaling about 28 cents per cup, according to Bargain Babe. Brewing coffee at home would only cost you $53.76 per year if you drink coffee four days a week, and only $102.20 if you drink it every day.

2. Buy generic.

Though the side-by-side comparison doesn’t seem like much, buying generic brands instead of name brands can save you a lot of money. A few cents saved here, a few cents there, can total up to a significant amount at the checkout. This Lifehacker article claims that consistently buying the generic brand can result in a saving of 25 percent. Sometimes we may not trust generic brands, but I’ve had great luck with Target’s Up & Up and Market Pantry brands.

3. Take advantage of student discounts.

The little discounts our student ID’s can get us are perks of our expensive educations! Here are some places that offer student discounts when you whip out your U Card:

  • JoAnn’s Fabrics - 10 percent off all purchases.

  • The New York Times - students get their first four issues for 99 cents and 50 percent off each following issue.

  • Apple - students can get up to $200 off a new Mac with their education discount.

  • Northrop Auditorium - students can purchase day-of tickets to many performances at discounted prices.

  • Chipotle - show your student ID to get a free drink with the purchase of a meal.

  • Urban Outfitters - get 10 percent off when you sign up here.  

  • Vescio’s in Dinkytown - They even have a discounted Student Menu!

4. Reduce your energy usage.

Shave a little bit off of your heating and cooling bill every month by setting your thermostat a few degrees cooler in the winter. According to Suzanne Jones, vice president of the Association of Energy Services Professionals, you can save three percent on your energy bill for every degree you lower on your thermostat in the winter. Another easy way to save some energy is unplugging things when they’re not in use - when your phone isn’t plugged into your charger, but the charger is plugged into the wall, energy is still being used.

5. Eat out less.

Eating at restaurants, even fast food restaurants, is way more expensive than cooking your own meals. With the food, drinks and a tip, you’ll spend a good hunk of cash on just one meal. If you simply can’t deal without your Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi or Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana soup, check out this article for great restaurant copycat recipes you can make at home.

Though these tips may only save you a little bit at a time, your savings will add up quickly. Never underestimate the power of saving a little money here and a little there, taking advantage of discounts and coupons and wasting less.