It’s always lovely to have extra money in the bank (or in your wallet) and by making a few easy changes to your life and your habits, you can easily have some extra cash to spend (or save) as you please! Here’s how…
1. Ditch the Starbucks. (Or whatever daily treat you buy.) It adds up! If you buy Starbucks every day for a year, and your drink is around, oh, let’s say $5 you end up spending $1,825 dollars a year on Starbucks alone. That is MADNESS. Limit yourself to Starbucks once or twice a week. Think of it as a treat, not an essential, because that’s what it is. It is important to treat yourself, but there are other and more inexpensive ways to treat yourself. You can even buy your own coffee and add a crapload of sugar and caramel syrup and boom, cheap coffee fix. There are a lot of Starbucks dupe recipes online, too. Try them!
2. Do your own manicure/pedicure. Manicures are a major waste of money. “But, I suck at doing my nails! I can’t even paint my right hand and it always chips!” you groan, staring at your chipping and sloppy nails. “But,” I reply, in an inspirational tone. “You can teach yourself! Practice! Plus, when you get polish all over your cuticles and fingers, it washes off! No one can even tell you messed up! And use a freaking top coat. TOP COATS ARE EVERYTHING.” Plus you can do cute designs on your nails and not have to pay $10 extra. Polka dots are so easy—literally dip a bobby pin head in polish and go mad. You can even make a day of it with your friends. Have a nail painting party (and maybe cajole your talented nail-painting friend into painting your nails). Money in the bank. Plus, shameless self-advertising, there are cute nail ideas and tutorials in my bi-weekly College Fashion Nail Art Column.
3. Buy clothes for the next season while they are on clearance (ie: winter coats at the end of winter or swimsuits at the end of summer). Provided, in the next few months, you most likely will not suddenly go from a B cup to a DD cup or you will lose like fifty pounds (if that’s the case or you’re still young enough where boobs can sprout, maybe this isn’t the best idea) but generally at a certain point in your life your size will waiver only very slightly. Buy that nice winter coat when it’s 60% off winter wear at your favorite store, then laugh when winter comes by again and you have that $300 coat that you paid much less for.
4. With every pay check you get, save a certain amount. I keep track of my income with the Notes app on my iPhone (clearly, I am extremely professional with my finances). It works well enough for me—I keep track of what I make, what I spend money on and how much I’ve saved. I make a point to set aside a bit from each paycheck, just because. I think I’m going to use my saved portion to put towards Study Abroad, Huzzah! I’ll thank myself later.
5. Be smart when going out to eat. When you go out to restaurants, try to order only water. Soda and other drinks get so pricey. Some places charge like $3 for a cup of Coke that you could buy a bottle of for $1 at CVS. It’s madness. Do you really need sugary soda, that’s bad for you, with your burger? Save that extra money. Each small amount matters and this is also good for your health. Boom, you are hitting two metaphorical birds with one stone. Also, try to avoid appetizers or those extra charges such as “Extra cheese for $1.50!” do you really need an extra slice of cheddar? Do you? Probably not.
6. Before buying clothes or shoes, list at least three outfits or occasions where you will wear the thing. If you want a navy dress, reason that you’ll wear it to your job interview next week, your cousin’s bridal brunch and for Easter at grandma’s house. Boom, justified. However, if you see a sparkly pair of pumps and you can only reason wearing them if your job plan falls through and you’re forced to strip for cash, it’s time to pass. The same rule goes for make-up—how often will you use that neon magenta shadow? Once, maybe, for an 80s theme party that might never occur? Pass.
7. Use coupons and discount codes! Or use the app, RetailMeNot. Simply type the name of the store and it shows you discounts. I never order anything online without Google searching coupon codes for that store. Most of the time I end up finding a 10% deal or some discount I hadn’t known about. There’s nothing to lose. Bonus: If you’re still a student, search up stores that give student discounts when you present an ID. There are dozens of shops!
8. Save money on books and DVDs. Read library books and borrow DVDs from the library. Don’t spend money on the book or DVD that you most likely will never read or watch again (unless it’s one of your favorites, then I recommend just adding it to your Christmas or Birthday wish list). The library is FREE. I regret buying so many books that just sit and gather dust. I’m not going to re-read them and I could’ve read them for free instead of dishing out $15 for that hardcover. Plus, the library is a great place to find new books and movies.
9. Learn useful skills that can save you money. Learn how to paint your own nails nearly as good as a manicurist (The internet is amazing)! Teach yourself how to sew simple rips in clothing (so you can avoid buying new clothing)! Learn how to make DIY versions of things you always go to buy (ie: necklaces, scarves, etc). Unless, of course, you’re not a DIY kind of gal. I totally am. When you see that thing on Pinterest (such as a sparkly light plate that costs $30 from Urban Outfitters), think of how you could possibly make it yourself for a cheaper cost (glue, glitter, gloss, plain light plate = $12). Plus, when people compliment it you get this amazing sense of pride, “I made that!!!”.
10. Write down where/how you spend your money and figure out how to fix it. For example, say you spent $50 at movie theatres that past month. Now, for the future, decide to ONLY go see movies in theatres that you REALLY want to see. Wait until the others are on DVD in the library for the other films. Also, sneak your own inexpensive snacks into the theatre instead of splurging on that incredibly delicious unhealthy popcorn that costs an arm and a leg. Also, if you spent $100 at Forever 21, promise yourself to cut that in half for next month. Keep a notebook—that’s always inspiring to make progress. Plus, you’ll feel super professional and legitimate.
11. Know when to buy high-end and when to buy bargain. You don’t need high-end nail polish remover. It’s all the same crap. Who cares if it says Sephora? Buy the cheap one from CVS. Don’t buy the high-end plain black tank top. Get one from Forever 21 for five bucks. Think about what you are buying. Is it one of a kind, truly? Can you not buy something very similar for a lower price? If you answered yes to both, then you can justify it. If not, it’s probably not worth it.
12. Online shopping makes it so easy to spend money—try to only shop online when it’s free shipping or you’re getting a good deal. By free shipping I do NOT mean “There is free shipping if you spend fifty…I was gonna spent twenty but if I buy two more sweaters and a necklace the shipping will be free….” No! I admit, I do this sometimes, but it’s terrible. Shipping is usually $8 which is a huge waste. Plus, you’re being tricked into spending a lot more money just to not have to pay a measly sum. Wait until they have a free shipping deal (some stores never do, but many do around holidays like Labor Day or Thanksgiving or Valentine’s Day) or at least wait until you have a coupon code or there’s a good offer. Also remember: just because you are not physically handing your cash over, you are still spending your money!