When I was in college I sure wish someone took me aside and helped me realize ways I could save on everyday items. Well that was over 10yrs ago and I managed to be somewhat frugal but now that tuition is out of this world high and the job market is not so good especially for college students it is very important you learn to save on everyday items. I hope you find these tips helpful and remember I’m not an expert these tips are things I have learned along the way.
1. Make a budget. Even if your parents are buying your groceries for you be mindful of the amount you have them spend (They are not made of money). If you are on your own or even sharing responsibilities with roommates make sure you understand the amount you can put towards groceries and make sure your roommates are aware too. This is not a place to be boneheaded and think everything will be fine in a few years if you spend more than your budget allows. Set yourself up for financial freedom. I know I wish I had learned this lesson early but I didn’t and now we are working to right those mistakes.
2. Make time to shop sales. Yes as a college student you will be busy taking classes, working (if you have a job), homework, social time and extra activities/internships, but trust me if you make time to look through the sales paper and cut coupons you will save yourself more time and energy and stress later. Even if you can only manage an hour a week. Its true the more time you can devote to saving by looking at sales, clipping coupons and searching the web for sales you will save the most.
3. Understanding your eating habits. This is so important. If you are big into mac and cheese and 1 box lasts you two meals and you plan on having it twice a week then you will want to make sure you have 4 boxes on hand for a month. If you are sharing with a roommate(s) then account for that amount. If you are cooking all your meals take note for the amount you eat and when you eat. If you eat out make sure to budget it and when you eat out. Also make sure to eat at places that will have meals that will fill you up. Be sure to include your snacks how much you eat and when you eat. Keep a notebook and write down everything!
4. Knowing What to Buy. So if you are a pasta eater then make sure you make a list of the types of pasta you eat. Be sure to include condiments and dressings you typically use. Keep a running list of items you use such as salt, pepper and other seasonings. Knowing the foods you eat and knowing what you can cook will help you understand knowing what foods to buy.
5. Shop Sales. This is a no brainer but sometimes you need to be reminded. I know it is so tempting to do a spur of the moment shopping trip and get items not on your list. I still do this but in the back of my head I ask myself do I REALLY NEED IT. Most of the time its a NO but sometimes I do make those purchases. Understand that if you regularly get items not on your list those items add up and by the end of the semester it can lead to a large chunk of money that you could have lived without buying. Its ok sometimes but dont make a habit of it.
6. Shop Clearance. Some of the best deals I find is in the clearance sections. Sometimes the canned goods are missing the label or dented. As long as the can is not open then I have no problem buying. Also if a packed is opened and resealed depending on what it is like dried uncooked pasta its fine but be caredful if its soda make sure the seal hasn’t been broken the same with medicines.
7. Use Coupons. Yes Coupons are essential to savings. You don’t have to subscribe to a newspaper to get coupons. Check out your college paper or even the library for old newspapers and ask if you could have the inserts from Sunday. Also check out the local library most of them now have coupon boxes. Also Walmart usually near the Customer service you can find the coupon boxes. Also the best deals I typically find are on the products that have coupons on them. Recently I got FREE cheerwine from Kroger. They were on sale and they also had a coupon attached to them making it FREE. Also inside some products you find coupons, there are also blinkies in grocery stores or even family dollar and dollar general. See my post about Blinkies.
8. Shop at the Dollar Tree. Yes the best place to save is Dollar Tree. You already know the price of each item and now that they take coupons you can score even better deals and FREE items. Dollar Trees are all over the place so you are bound to find one near your college. Read my post about Why you should Shop Dollar Tree.
9. Repurpose Containers/Bottles. So this is for another post soon to come but while I was making ham and turkey sandwiches earlier the idea occured to me that the containers the meat came in can be washed and used for organizing items like recipe cards to paper clips and so forth. So think of creative ways you can repurpose the containers the foods you buy. I used to use pasta boxes for gift boxes and that way I didn’t spend money on buying gift boxes. I also build my pinatas out of cardboard. Now that the kids are getting older its far easier for them to break the paper mache pinatas.
10. Always check the Unit per price. So this is one of the most important tips you can do to help save yourself some money. Check the unit per price. Sometimes even with a sale or coupon the price per unit makes a huge difference. If you are a College student and only spending an hour a week on sales then you are probably not going to have mulitiple coupons for an item so the larger the better may be a better savings for you than multiple smaller sizes of that item at a cheaper price. Learn how to understand the unit per price it will help you determine what you should or shouldn’t buy. Remember consider how quickly you use an item because if it goes bad and you have to throw it out then that is waste time, energy and money,
As always be cautious in your spending and take a good look at what you eat and what you spend and what realistically you can afford to spend.
Hope you found these tips helpful.