College can sometimes feel like a bubble, where you have the independence you always wanted without the responsibilities of a full-fledged adult.
Too often though, this bubble can make us ignore the issue of money, until our card is being declined and we have no idea what to do next.
The trick is to never let it get that far. By taking measures that will save you money, you can continue to enjoy the carefree college years without your bank account zeroing out.
1. The $5 bill challenge.
How this works is you collect all of your $5 bills and don't spend them. Even small bills add up and they will quickly. I have split that savings in two and put half of the money into a bank account that I don't check, essentially an emergency fund (which I strongly recommend having).
The other half I keep in a jar at home; this is the money I use to go out. If I don't have enough in there to pay for my Uber, a drink, and cover, I don't go out.
2. Don't be a "yes man."
When it comes to going out, being a "yes man" will waste your time, energy and money.
Really think about who you have fun with and where you enjoy going. We all have those friends we say yes to out of obligation.
Saying no may feel like a bummer, but once you add up how expensive going out is, you'll be amazed at how much money you put into nights you may not even remember.
It's important to have a social life in college, but not at the expense of your financial stability. If there's an event I want to go to, but it would be the turn to say no to it, I say yes and then no to the next two events. And try to say yes to the nights with bar specials.
Dollar beer night anyone?
3. Always carry cash.
This one has been found on almost all financial advice blogs and that's because it really works. It's amazing how much more consideration you will put into spending when you have to break a $20 bill for coffee or a shirt.
You also might want to consider the envelope budgeting system which is extremely effective.
Essentially, you label various envelopes with the different things you need to buy each week (going out, groceries, transportation, shopping) and divide your discretionary income accordingly.
When an envelope runs out of cash, you stop spending. It's that simple.
Carrying some amount of cash is crucial for things like bar cover and easy tipping.
4. Student discounts.
If you make it a habit to ask for a student discount before you grab your wallet, it will pay off. Clothing stores, restaurants, nail salons, phone companies, internet providers and insurance companies all usually have some sort of student discount.
Most times it is around 10% and that adds up fast.
Putting a note in your wallet with your cash can help remind you to ask before you shell out for the full price.
5. Price match like a boss.
If you don't want to go crazy couponing, download the Flipp app. It lets you search every current flyer and circle the items that you`re interested in. Price matching with groceries saves you from making numerous trips to different stores just to get the berries that are on sale.
6. Always buy used.
When I first got my apartment, I couldn't wait to go on a shopping spree and have my own, new furniture.
With a quick calculation of my monthly rent, phone bill, internet charges, and groceries, I realized buying everything new wasn't feasible. I constantly searched used furniture sites for dining room sets and end tables.
I also asked friends and family if they had any extra furniture they weren't using that I could have, and ended up getting a really nice leather living room set for free!
7. Sharing is caring.
If you have WiFi, ask some neighbors if they want to split the bill with you. When you go out to eat, ask friends if they want to order the large nachos and split the cost.
If you're grocery shopping and really want the case of chicken breast but know you won't be able to eat it all, ask a friend if they want to split it.
8. Download money-saving apps (they actually work).
Honey is a Google Chrome extension that automatically searches and applies coupon codes to online orders once you're at the checkout. This is my favorite hack since it literally requires no effort from you after you have installed it.
Also, as a college student, you are probably tight on space. Why not free up some of that space by getting rid of things you don't need?
These money saving methods have already saved me 40 dollars this month (which paid for my phone bill). It's important to live life to the fullest in college, but it's just as important to not walk out in any more debt than necessary.
This article was originally published on ReadUnwritten.com