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It’s always fun to treat yourself and purchase items that you want, but it can be slightly awkward when you don’t have the funds to do so. Between paying for tuition, textbooks and rent, being financially savvy in college can be a challenge. With these tips, though, you’ll be stacking cash and balling on a budget in no time!

Know Your Budget

Have you ever gotten a check on a Friday and somehow spent it all by Monday? Thinking about money can be intimidating and stressful, but it’s critical to be honest with yourself and understand your income. By knowing how much money you should set aside for the essentials —rent, gas, insurance, etc. — you can determine how much money you have to splurge a little and treat yourself.

Save Your Paycheck

If possible, it’s a good rule of thumb to save at least 30% of your paycheck — if you can save more, that’s even better! Some banks allow you to set up a direct deposit from your checking account to your savings, so if you have a set amount automatically being transferred each payday, you’ll be saving without even realizing it!

Sign Up For Reward Programs

I’d say that the best way to save money is to eat at home as much as possible, but I know that a big aspect of college is being social and eating out with friends. If you find that you routinely go to establishments such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts or Chipotle, consider signing up for their rewards programs. Not only are the programs free, but you can rack up points to use toward free meals as well!

Leave Items in Your Cart

Online shopping is addictive — in fact, it’s my favorite pastime! I know very well that the most annoying thing is to place an order one day, just for there to be a site-wide sale the next. I’ve found that if I leave items in my cart for a bit, an email will sometimes pop up in my inbox with a coupon for 10% or 15% off. While this doesn’t work all the time, it’s always worth a shot and is a great method to prevent impulse buying!

Use Cash Envelopes 

If you’re not familiar with using cash envelopes, it’s essentially a system that uses envelopes with labels such as “gas,” “groceries” and “going out.” As time goes on, you continuously add cash to the envelope so that you always have funds readily available when you need to get gas or want to go out to eat at a restaurant. Not only does using cash envelopes help you to stay on budget, but it also helps to limit overspending on a credit or debit card. While you can certainly use paper envelopes, many great Etsy shops sell laminated, long-lasting versions!

Switch to Generic and Drugstore Brands

Sure, there are certain items that I would splurge on after finding them tried and true for ages — Chanel, I’m looking at your lipstick. However, that doesn’t mean that the lipstick from other brands is automatically horrible! When it comes to makeup, you’ll find that you have to experiment and see what works for you. You’ll also find that the formulas for drugstore brands are often comparable to that of name brands, and you really just pay a higher price for the label!

Be Smart With Your Haircut

If you’re not able to cut your own hair at home — don’t worry, you’re not alone — then you know that getting a haircut can sometimes cost a decent sum of money. If you haven’t found a specific stylist to do your hair, try booking an appointment with an apprentice as opposed to a master stylist. More often than not, you’ll get the same quality results for a cheaper price!

There’s no doubt that college is expensive — outrageously expensive, in my opinion. While most students won’t be able to get anything and everything they want during undergrad, with these tips you’ll be able to save your moolah while still prioritizing your wants and needs!

Emma is a senior at the University of Central Florida studying Anthropology and History. When she's not writing articles, she enjoys long-distance running, iced chai tea lattes , and advocating for students as a Senator for Student Government.
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