Tips on Saving Money
Money makes the world go around. Although I am a true believer that money does not bring happiness, it is a necessity, especially if you are attending a UC. After my first year at UC Irvine, I have come to the realization that money is definitely not easy to manage. While paying for presents this December, my savings account reached an all-time low: $16.45. For the first time, I actually sat down and realized that instead of living pay check to pay check, I needed to start managing my money.
The phrase “money conscious” wasn’t in my vocabulary but it sure was for my parents. I was soon cut off of my extravagant spending completely after they realized how much I had spent on presents and eating out this quarter, leaving me even more determined to save. These are a few tricks of the trade that have helped me ease into spending less in general and finally increasing the balance in my savings account.
1.) Tuition: As students, our efforts to make the Regents lower tuition have been rough. There is little that we can do to lower the actual rate we are paying, but we can pay for it in different ways. There are so many scholarship possibilities for students of all backgrounds to apply for.
Most students after freshmen year stop applying for scholarships, but there are various scholarships available throughout the year. I would suggest going to a counselor first and using websites like fastweb.com or scholarships.com that help narrow down scholarships specific to you. If you do not qualify for financial aid like me, applying for a student loan is a great option because you do not have the pay until a year after you graduate, giving you time throughout college to save up.
2.) Eating out, specifically getting drinks, is one of the biggest consumptions that you can avoid. There are many benefits to buying your own groceries and making your own food. Buying my own groceries allows me to be more health conscious, knowing exactly what is going on my plate. Also it’s a great stress reducer to cook — making a simple meal once or twice a day can allow you to focus on something other than the copious amounts of studying you might have to do. Sitting down and enjoying a meal I’ve just cooked is one of the most satisfying things I have felt. Although resisting Starbucks has been one of the hardest things I have done, I try to drink my own coffee and tea and allow myself one Starbucks drink a week to splurge when I need that extra boost of caffeine. Allowing myself leeway in my money-saving diet helps me feel like I’m not completely skimping on the “finer” things in life.
3.) Using public transportation as much as possible is one of the easiest money saving tips that I can give. Although it can be a bit annoying to wait for a shuttle or bus for impatient people like me, it is definitely worth it in the end when I don’t have to pay twenty bucks a week for driving to and from campus, not to mention buying a parking permit for the day! Another option for those who have to drive is using the website gaspricewatch.com that gives the prices of the cheapest local gas in the area. When saving money, every cent counts and gas prices really can save you per gallon. Look into cash discounts at gas stations as well, as some offer a reduced price per gallon for those who pay with cash and not credit.
4.) When it comes to saving rent, if your rent is fixed, try to avoid monthly late payments and make sure to remind yourself whenever possible to pay for your rent before the first of the month. The easiest money any renter can receive is money from your numerous late payments, so make sure you are on top of that. If you pay your rent based on electricity and utilities, make sure you are energy and water conscious, turning off lights before you leave, unplugging things that do not need to be plugged in and taking shorter showers. These small things can really add up in saving you money.
5.) If there is something you really want, or if you want to go out, do so, but plan accordingly. It’s not always easy but splurging on items that you really desire rather than things you can do without is really worth it. I’m currently saving up to go to Disneyland for the first time, and because it is an experience that I really desire, I’m willing to spend. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to look for discounts on my tickets, but I’m happy to spend on something I really want to do and memories that I feel are worth the cost.
If there is one thing I have learned so far with being conscious, it would be that money might make the world go ’round but you don’t have to revolve around it. Continue to do what you love without letting money run your life.