Let’s be real, trying to budget for school, parties, and life in general can be more stressful than school work and classes themselves. As easy as others may make it look, ballin’ on a budget takes a lot of careful planning and regular maintenance. If you’re looking for a few easy ways to budget and save money, here are a few suggestions that are sure to make your bank account happy without cramping your style.
Stick To Drug Store Makeup
Makeup can be really expensive. Factoring in the cost of foundation, powder, blush, various lip and eye products, and whatever else you put on your face to make yourself party and insta-ready, you’re looking at a pretty penny each month. The solution? Drug store cosmetics. We all know how nice those department store makeup products can make you look and feel, but why spend $100ish on foundation and powder when you could spend $20 at your grocery store (for makeup that works just as well) . Using drug store cosmetics is an easy and budget friendly way to keep yourself looking your best without breaking the bank.
Let’s do the math: $20 at the drug store, vs. $100 at the department store for monthly beauty buys.
$80 saved a month
Cook for yourself
Everyone knows how it goes: you’ve had a long day. You have zero motivation to spend 30 minutes in the kitchen cooking. So why not just drop $15 and go out for a burger and a beer? Well, as convenient and seductive as it may seem, restaurants are probably the biggest drain on your monthly budget. By cutting out as many avoidable (ie. not for birthday dinners or meetings) restaurant meals as you can, you will essentially be putting money back in your pocket. By the time you factor in your meal, drink and tip (and parking costs depending on where you are) you are looking at a $20-ish chunk of change per meal that could be saved and put to better use. If you’re looking to cut back on spending a little, consider biting the bullet and opt to eat in or cook with friends instead of spending all your money at a restaurant. At the end of the day, this is a cost effective and healthy lifestyle change that you may come to love.
Let’s do the math: $50 a week on groceries, vs. $100 a week for 5 meals out
$50 saved a week = $200 saved a month
Making coffee or tea at home vs. going to Starbucks or your favorite coffee shop
On a similar note….let’s talk about drinks. Everyone knows how expensive buying tea and coffee can be. If you’re looking for ways to loosen up your budget then look no further. Consider this, you’re either waking up 15 minutes extra early in order to have time to go get coffee, or you’re waking up 15 minutes extra early in order to make coffee. So why not save yourself the $4-6 dollars every morning, and become your own personal barista? This is a simple change that makes a huge difference in your wallet and maybe even your waistline ($6, 500 calorie drinks I’m talking about you).
Let’s do the math: $1 a day on homemade coffee or tea vs. $4.50 a day for Starbucks
$3.50 saved a day = $105 saved a month
Borrow and share clothes with friends and roommates
Whether you’re in a sorority with endless amounts of date parties to attend, or a collegiate social butterfly with a calendar brimming full with parties and events, odds are that your life demands numerous outfits. Instead of running to the mall every time a new invitation comes rolling in, how about turning to your friends’ and roommates’ closets for a new party look? From organizing a group dress and heels swap to stealing a specific dress that your best friend has, there are plenty of less expensive ways to keep your fashion game on point. Between you and your friends there are probably a few hundred (if not thousand) dollars worth of dresses sitting unused in your closets and this is a great way to put them to use.
Let’s do the math: $0 for borrowing a friends’ gorgeous dress vs. $50+ dollars for new clothes each week
$50 saved a week = $200 saved a month
Try a “No spend” month
If you really want to challenge yourself, test a “no spend” month (or ease in with a week). “No spend” basically means only opening your wallet or swiping your card for items necessary for survival, like food, rent, medicine, basic hygiene products, etc. What it means is cutting out all of those impulse buys (hello Target $1 spot), like that bottle of nail polish that’s only about a shade off of those 4 other bottles of gray you have at home, or that last drink at the bar you probably didn’t need anyway. It will surprise you the amount those small buys add up to and how unconscious we can be to them sometimes. It will help you evaluate the things that are really worth the extra cash to you, like a concert ticket, and then others that aren’t, like going to get a manicure vs. an at-home mani.
Let’s do the math: ballpark $20 a week saved = $80 a month
Finally, one of the easiest and most commonly overlooked ways to save money is to (drum roll please) actually make a budget. If you don’t know how or where you’re spending your money it’ll be pretty darn hard to keep track of where you can cut back and save. Don’t freak out, you don’t have to spend hours slaving away over excel spread sheets and receipts. Just take a few minutes to figure out how much money you have to spend each week or month then break it down. Categorize how you’re going to spend your money (ie. $150 a month on food, $500 on rent, etc.) and then stick to it. It’s as easy as that. Be sure to leave a little wiggle room in your budget just in case something unpredictable pops up, and also leave yourself a some “just for fun money” if you can.
Being on a budget does not have to mean being limited. You can still go out, splurge and have a life. Just take a few moments to figure out places where you are spending more than you need to, budget out how you want to spend, and keep ballin’ on your budget.