Life is a learning experience for everyone in multiple ways. Not only do you attend school for a portion of your life, but you gradually get an education in adulting. You must do your own grocery shopping, call to set up doctors’ appointments yourself, do your own laundry and pay your own bills. And with that, you have to learn how to budget on the fly so you don’t end up broke.
No one said it’s easy to budget, especially when you want to go out on a daily basis with your friends or buy the latest and greatest gadget. But it can be done.
Here are some helpful tips on how to save money while you’re living your crazy, busy life.
1. Apply for Grants and Scholarships
The best way to save money during your college years, if you choose to go the route of secondary education, is to slash the cost of your tuition. You do this through applying for grants and scholarships. You don’t have a chance at winning if you don’t apply, so it’s better to put your hat in the ring. A good place to start looking for financial aid opportunities is College Education Information. You’ll get matched with a college and have opportunities to learn about the school’s grants and scholarships. You should file your FAFSA application to receive federal grants as well. It’s never too early to apply for scholarships and grants, so you should start your search now.
2. Take Advantage of Free Samples
Many places will give you tons of free promotional products throughout the year. While they can be useful, you know you’re really wishing you could get the products you use every day for free. With PINCHme, you can get a box full of free samples of everyday products shipped right to your door. The only requirement is once you’ve tried the products, you need to write a review about them so PINCHme can give the brand your feedback. Of course, these products aren’t going to last long, but the samples can get you through in a tight spot. It also allows you to try new products, so if you don’t like them, there’s no harm, no foul.
3. Get Cash Back for Your Purchases
Sometimes you have no choice other than to shop at major retailers and that’s perfectly OK, especially if you shop with Ebates. You can receive cash back for your purchases at over 2,000 different retailers. Even when your bill is higher than you planned, you don’t have to panic since you’ll be getting some of your money back either via an Ebates check or your PayPal account. In fact, since you spent that money in the first place, you can put the cash back into a savings account and watch your savings grow to help pay for major purchases down the road.
4. Get an Affordable Car Loan
When family emergencies happen, you’ll need a vehicle to drive to where you need to go. To have a car, you’ll need to budget for a car payment. But don’t be worried about qualifying for a car loan because you either have bad credit or no credit. You can still get an affordable car loan for new and used cars with Auto Loan Empire. You’ll receive a free quote, regardless of your credit. You’ll get matched to a car loan lender in minutes. Getting an affordable car payment from Auto Loan Empire can help you get places quickly when emergencies arise.
5. Slash Your Cell Phone Bill
Do you pay a ridiculous amount for your cell phone package? Then it’s time to cut that negativity out of your life. FreedomPop offers a free package, which is great for people on a budget. The free package includes 200 minutes, 500 texts and 500 MB of data. The complete upgraded package costs less than $35 and includes unlimited talk, unlimited text and 4 GB of data. You can also get a free Alcatel OneTouch Conquest smartphone with the plan, though there’s an activation fee for under $30. Why pay hundreds of dollars for a smartphone plan when you can get a plan a fraction of the cost with FreedomPop.
6. Pass on Cable
One of the immediate things you think of when you get an apartment is you need to get your cable and Internet set up ASAP. While you’ll definitely need your Internet, you probably won’t need cable. Chances are you’re going to be so busy with working, socializing and other commitments that you won’t have time to watch T.V. For the occasional time you really want to watch a show or a movie, go with a streaming service like Hulu. You can get one month free to start your subscription, but then pay less than $10 per month. If you upgrade to Hulu with Live T.V., you can watch live sports. Who needs an expensive cable package when you can watch what you want, when you want with Hulu.
7. Use Store Credit Cards to Your Advantage
When retailers offer a credit card for exclusive use at their stores, you should look into it. For example, you can save big at Target with a Target REDcard. This card can either be a debit or credit card and saves you 5% on your purchases when you use it at checkout in-store or online. You can use other coupons during your purchase as well. Many people love to shop at Target and Target has an incredible number of items that everyone needs and uses daily. If you plan on shopping at Target often, then a Target REDcard will be perfect for your saving needs.
8. Buy or Rent Used Books
If you’re a bookworm, you know how expensive new books can be. It’s nice to have the latest and greatest books, but don’t price yourself out. Get used books instead. If you go to websites like Chegg or Amazon, they’ll be even cheaper than the used books at your local bookstore. If you buy used books, you can sell them for money after you’re done reading them. Renting books is the cheapest option though. Go to your local library, get a library card and you can read as many books as your heart desires. Just make sure you don’t lose them so you can return them when you’re done.
9. Make Meals at Home
In 2015, Americans spent an average of $7,113 on food, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. $4,032 was spent on groceries while $3,081 was spent on eating out. It’s incredibly fun to go out to eat with your friends and super easy to simply order food, but with an extra $3,000, you could be closer to completely paying your other bills. Start grocery shopping and cooking your own food. Meal prep or make slow-cooker meals to last you the week. You’ll save a lot of money and it will also be much healthier than greasy fast food. (Pro tip: groceries don’t have to be expensive. Try shopping at Aldi to save additional money.)
10. Get Thrifty
Buying new clothes at brand name department stores can cost a pretty penny. If you’re looking to save big money, try shopping at thrift stores like Goodwill, The Salvation Army or Plato’s Closet. You can find many types of clothing for all situations for cheap. Not to mention you can also find various other accessories or housewares for cheap as well. You might have to search through racks of clothes to find what you’re looking for, but in the end, the amount of money you’re saving is worth it.
11. Use Free Online Tools
Isn’t it frustrating when a free trial of an online program expires? You don’t have to feel obligated to purchase the program though. You can use it for free through your job or find free online versions. For example, many employers offer products and services like Microsoft Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud, Dropbox, Google Docs and Prezi for free. Before you hit the buy button, check to see if your employer offers these programs for free or if there are free versions.
12. Receive Discounts at Retailers
An important thing to know is you can get discounts at some retailers for being a college student, a military member or a senior. Do your research beforehand the next time you go shopping. Students, for example, can receive 10% off purchases on some items with Microsoft. Dell offers students deals and coupons as well. Jersey Mike’s gives students a discounted meal price (this varies upon location) and Chili’s Grill & Bar has a 10% discount for seniors. Kohl’s gives a 15% discount to military members (this varies upon location) as well. Some sports team will even sell discounted tickets to college students, military members and seniors.
13. Find Roommates
If you rent an apartment, one of the biggest ways to save money is to live with roommates. You can get a bigger place, split rent, split utilities and split groceries in equal portions. Roommates also ensure you’ll have people to do activities and hobbies with and you won’t be lonely. Of course, you need to do your research and be absolutely certain you’re choosing the right roommates for you. Choosing roommates you don’t know or aren’t extremely familiar with can either turn out great for you or be awful. It’s a fine line to walk, but if you choose the right people, roommates can make life adventures extremely fun.
14. Find Free Things to Do
Take advantage of free events or promotions offered in your community to save money. Local museums often do free admissions days, such as the Field Museum in Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. You can volunteer at a food pantry or an animal shelter. Participate in a local library reading program. Visit a local zoo or a botanical garden with free admission. If you don’t know where to find free things to do in your community, browse the web or pick up a local newspaper or magazine and you’ll surely find something exciting to do.
15. Make Your Own Coffee
If you didn’t like coffee when you were in high school, chances are you’ll like it as a working adult. Sometimes you just need that caffeine kick to wake you up in the morning or get you through the day. Instead of going to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts to grab a large coffee, make your own. For example, Business Insider says you can roughly save between $195-$1,155 by brewing your own coffee over spending $1-$5 for a cup every day. Not to mention, if you brew your own coffee, you can have as many cups as you want in one day without having to make multiple trips to the coffee shop. This may seem like a small change in your daily routine, but it can save you money in the long run.
Saving money may seem like a daunting task, especially when most things tend to have price tags attached to them. But these money-saving tips and tricks can help you spend your dollars wisely and put them away for important future purposes.