Saving Money: The Broke College Student Edition

We’ve coined the phrase “broke college student” at least once in our lives. With expenses like tuition rolling around every quarter, it can sometimes feel like we are spending way too much money. But school necessities aside, can we still call ourselves “broke” when we’re all guilty of splurging out more often than we should? Is it even called “treating ourselves” anymore if we do it so often? Saving money sounds impossible in college, but it’s definitely easier than you’d think.

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1. Set a Weekly Spending Limit

Setting a weekly spending limit helps prevent you from buying things spontaneously. If you’re consciously thinking about how much money you’ve allotted yourself to spend, you’ll naturally start looking both away from things you want, and towards more economically friendly options for things you need. And if you happen to go over that week, maybe because you went out to grab dinner with friends, subtract the extra spending from the next week’s limit.

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2. Start a Coin Jar

We all get them. They end up making our wallets and backpacks heavier. We sometimes just end up throwing them straight into a tip jar to get rid of them. Instead of letting them sit at the bottom of your purse, put every coin you get into a jar. Even though it’s worth so little, you’d be surprised how much accumulates over time. My mom and I opened my first bank account using only the coins we had saved over the years. Though it was a challenge to sort and lift all those coins into the bank, we opened my account and deposited $700 worth of coins into it.

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3. You Don’t Need Starbucks to Survive

Just like the title says: you don’t need Starbucks to survive. Even though it feels like you can’t get through the day without it, there are better alternatives out there to help you save hundreds. Think about it: one cup is probably around $4. Multiply that by how many days you walk into a Starbucks (or any other beverage place), and that’s anywhere from $20 to $28 a week. If you really need that caffeine kick, making your own coffee (or tea) at home is way cheaper.

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4. Smart Shopping

Buying new things is very fun, but buying used items is often times way more economically friendly. When it comes to buying textbooks, used textbooks are definitely the way to go, and some websites like Library Genesis will find free PDF copies of the book for you. For clothes and other items, used (and cheap) items are often posted in the UCSB exclusive Facebook page, “UCSB Free and For Sale.” Also, the app that has definitely helped me save lots of money is “Mercari," which is a platform for users to sell their used items and ship it directly to you. Just recently, I purchased a lightly used pair of Stan Smith shoes off of Mercari that were worn only once, and still looked very new. I bought it for $33, which can’t even compare to the $80 that a new pair cost. So consider buying used! There’s definitely deals out there. You just have to look for them.

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5. Keep stuff in your cart, but don’t check out.

Like many of us, I love online shopping, and impulsive buys used to be my downfall because I would lose interest in the item a week after I bought it. A tip I found to be helpful is keeping my items in my cart, but never checking out. I would wait it out, and if I didn’t want it anymore, I’d take it out of my cart. Amazon has a “Save for Later” option, and that’s mainly where my items end up.

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6. Don’t Carry Your Wallet to Class

If you suffer from after class munchies and are often tempted to stop by the Arbor for a snack after class, keeping your wallet at home is probably a good idea. You can’t spend money if you don’t have money!

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Though it may not seem like much, saving even a dollar a day is enough to start a habit. Eventually, those dollars will keep adding up, and your bank account will thank you later.