6 tips on how to save money as a broke student or young professional
We live in a society where people aren’t able to afford the lives they live trying to impress people they don’t even know. Too many of us out here trying to flex on Instagram instead of opening a savings account or investing in our futures.
I look back and remember how broke I was in college the two years I lived off-campus. Unlike some of my peers, I didn’t have the privilege of having my parents pay all my bills (although there’s nothing wrong with that). I worked the bar shift (10 pm to 4 am) Thursday through Saturday (imagine how many times I actually woke up for my 8 am Friday class). After paying my bills and for drinks on Saturday nights (the ones I got off) there was hardly anything leftover of my check.
I was constantly torn between being focused on school and my ex curricular activities, & working as much as possible to pay my bills. Let’s just say I was stressed, overworked, and sleep-deprived.
Many of us (including me) forget to live at our means. I know so many people who were raised with parents who had a lot of money and want to keep living that way when they grow up. Just because your parents could afford to go out every night does not mean you can on that college job or entry-level salary.
I’ve known people who drive around in a nice car for the world to see but don’t have any furniture in their apartment.
Maybe you’re a college student living off-campus for the first time or maybe you’re a young professional juggling work and school like me. Continuing education is a sacrifice.
In this post, I’ll share tips I’ve used over the years to save up money without being completely miserable.
1. Grocery shop cheap.
I put this first because I honestly feel this is such a big way to save money. That being said, this is one of the areas I struggle the most. But you can save much money every month grocery shopping smarter and using coupons. I get most of my groceries from Aldi and whatever I can’t get there I get from Walmart or Krogers.
- Make a grocery list. This will stop you from grabbing everything you see. Also, you won’t have to run to the store 3 times a week because you didn’t actually grab enough to make any full meals.
- Buy generic brands. You aren’t a Kardashian & no one’s cares what brand your ketchup or cereal is. You can find so many brands that are just as good as name brands.
- Only buy what you need. People don’t realize how much money they waste throwing away food. You see a deal and you have to get all 10 forgettings you are cooking for one. I can’t tell you how much fruit, milk, and leftovers I have tossed out in the past.
2. Stop eating out.
You wouldn’t believe how much money you can save by not going out to eat. Now if you are like me go out once or twice a month you aren’t killing anyone. But if you go out multiple times a week or go out every day for lunch this could save you a TON.
- Learn to cook. Get a crockpot or an air fryer. There are so many quick and easy meals you can learn on Pinterest.
- Meal prepping your lunch. This is super easy once you get the hang of it. It saves you from going out to eat for lunch & saves you time finding something to pack every night (the employees at the BK next to my job learned the sound of my voice because I was there so often.)
- Keep snacks at work. Also, super easy. When I’m hungry I grab a quick pre-lunch snack (and after lunch snack.. let’s be honest.)
- Get a Keurig. For those of you that spend too much money at Starbucks or local coffee stores. This will save you time & money. It takes 4 minutes to make my favorite drink in the morning from my kitchen. I even bought the syrups and whip cream to add to my drinks. Might be costly up front but it will save you a lot of money & time in the long run.
3. School books
I wasted so much money thinking I needed to buy all my books brand new in college. Then after every quarter, I would try to sell them back at the bookstore and get NOTHING for them. Eventually, I started renting or buying them used. I would highly recommend renting all of your books.. unless you’re in a Master’s Program are higher. I plan to keep all of my books to use after graduation so I just buy them used. Still saves me a ton of money.
Thrifting is something that is not for everyone but everyone is capable of doing. The first time I tried it was a huge flop. But the second time I tried & hit gold.
- Clothes. I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on the things I’ve thrifted (most of the items I buy are under $10).
- Thrifting Furniture. I know everyone wants to have a cute apartment to show off on their IG or Twitter (whatever you kids are into these days) & you do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to do it. I’ve also bought cute & cheap furniture on FB Marketplace.
- DIY projects. I have soo many projects saved on my Pinterest. I’ve repainted & repurposed all kinds of furniture, picture frames, candleholders, etc.
5. Cut down on bills.
I am guilty of having way too many bills. Where some of these bills are necessary like rent and insurance there are others that aren’t necessary. There’s no reason for me to have Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, etc.
- Roommates. Live with roommates as long as possible. I think back to how much I spent (& saved) on bills when I had roommates vs now and sis.. If I could redo it, I would live with a roommate for much longer.
- Turn off your lights. You are one person & there is no need for you to have lights on in every room. If you’re leaving turn off lights, television, fans, etc. Turn down the air conditioner.
- Get rid of cable. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are great for movies and watching your favorite shows. And today with options like Hulu Live you can watch live television for cheap. Also, share accounts with your friends and family if you can.
- Cancel old memberships. Can I please tell you about the time I had a gym membership to TWO different gyms and wasn’t using either. I don’t even want to think about how much money I was wasting per month. If it’s been 10 months but you’re just keeping your membership “in case you want to go back,” it’s probably time to cancel. This always goes for trail memberships you forgot you had (I put a reminder to cancel on my phone as soon as I sign up).
6. Create a budget.
You never realize how much money you have to spend if you don’t calculate how much your bills are. Before I did this I would just spend money without it knowing how much money I actually had to spend.
- Set aside funds for fun. We all work hard (or at least pretend to) so we deserve to go out and have some fun or treat ourselves here and there. It’s important that you put aside money for this so that you don’t cut into your bill money.
- Budgeting app. Dollarbird and Mint.com are two popular apps depending on your need. I highly recommend Dollardbird. They let you add in your income and all the bills you pay monthly so you always know what you have and will have after your bills come out (helps to figure out if I can go out with friends or if I need to keep my as* home).
These are some simple things that you can do to save you money without making yourself miserable. Is there anything you find helps you save money? Let me know below.
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