I am always the broke friend. I can’t help it. I’ve read articles and tips and everything I can get my hands on about how to save money. I budget, I put money aside weekly and I have two savings accounts, but whenever I check, my balance is always far too low for my liking. I put money away and then end up spending it. I’ve found that it’s easy to say no to a $100 Ulta order or a Forever 21 sale but it’s the smaller expenses that add up and get me. If you’re like me and you’re always telling yourself “It’s not that much money,” you’ve come to the right place!
1. Ubers/Gas for your Car
We’re all guilty of this. The walk isn’t too far, but you’re tired and you want to get to where you’re going ASAP, so you call an Uber or you choose to drive your car, using up your gas. You tell yourself it isn’t that expensive. You say you don’t need gas yet, so it’s fine. Wrong! The price of one Uber may not be too high, but, even if you’re splitting with others, it adds up pretty quickly. Gas also isn’t cheap today, so it’s best to use only when necessary, saving it for when you have a trip you can’t walk. Try to choose walking when you can; it’s free and easy exercise!
2. Grocery Bags
I’m all about saving the environment and I love Pitt’s and nearby grocery stores’ initiatives to go green by charging for grocery bags; however, I forget everything, including the countless reusable grocery bags I own. Because I can’t always carry my purchases, I often pay extra for a plastic bag, which hurts the environment and my bank account. This is such an easy fix! Remember those reusable bags or purchase one if you haven’t already. It’s worth the small amount of money and will save you in the long run.
3. Eating Out
I know, campus food sometimes sucks. It actually sucks a lot of the time. The temptation to go out to eat is sometimes just too great. I get it, I do. We have to fight it together. If you hate the food on campus, try to cook at home when you can. Check out Pinterest for some super basic recipes you can make, even in your microwave. You can even buy ingredients on campus at the new market. I find that when I plan my meals, I’m less likely to deviate and I pick meals I know I’ll actually want to eat.
4. Spontaneous Purchases
This is a big one. You see an Instagram ad and suddenly HAVE to have it. You go out shopping for one thing and suddenly you have 20. You see a sale, and of course, you have to look around, ultimately purchasing. The thing is, you probably don’t need it. Just because you see something and want it doesn’t mean you should purchase it. I try to follow this rule: if you still really want it or need it after a week, buy it. A week doesn’t seem like too long, but after I’ve gone through a full week of classes, work, and everything else, most of the time, whatever I wanted before isn’t even on my mind. There are still a few purchases I probably didn’t really need but it’s okay to treat yourself occasionally!
A new thriller just came out and you just have to go see it which leads to buying popcorn, a drink, candy and the list goes on. Your friends all want to go ice skating, so you tag along, of course. A big concert is coming to town, so you need to grab tickets. All of these things can be expensive on their own and are even worse when you add them all up. We live in a day where everything is available online: shows, movies, music, experiences, podcasts, anything you can think of. So, put your debit card away, get those pajamas on, and stay home with your laptop or television. It’ll save you money and the hassle of planning an outfit.
6. Purchases Without Rewards
We all have places we frequent: favorite restaurants, stores, movie theaters, coffee shops, etc. You keep visiting the same places and they know your order by now, but this isn’t saving you any bank. Sign up for rewards. It’s so simple, usually free and totally worth it. Some rewards programs are better than others but there’s no loss in signing up, even if you don’t think you’ll use it. Also, if you do sign up, remember to use it! I find myself forgetting a lot which defeats the purpose. If you’re going to spend money, at least get something back. One of my favorites is Noodles & Company, which doesn’t use points and just randomly will give you free items, even entrees.
7. Drinking Out
This one is close to eating out, but I might be even more guilty of buying drinks knowing perfectly well my reusable water bottle is full of free water. Starbucks and Dunkin’ just get me too often. We all need a caffeine fix sometimes, but always choosing to purchase a beverage adds up really quickly, especially if it’s always Starbucks, which isn’t cheap to start. Choose water as often as you can. It’s healthier and keeps you energized without the crash that caffeine causes you.