Learning is something I thoroughly enjoy, so I’ve embraced it. I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I’m going to be a student for a long time. If you’re like me, a forever student, you can understand that even though this experience has many highs, it can also have its lows. One of those lows is the financial bind being in school may put you in. Saving becomes tricky under these lean conditions, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to achieve. The key is in being conscious of your decisions. This is something that can become easier in time with proper discipline.
Lucky for all of you, I did the whole trial-and-error thing on what works to be able to share my learnings. OK, maybe not really lucky for me, but someone had to go through it, right?! I’m not going to lie, it was not one of my favorite learning experiences but hey, sometimes the most unwelcome of lessons are the most crucial. Here are a few things that have worked (and continue working) for me when it comes to saving.
Set your goal!
I’ve found that when you blindly save, you don’t feel much satisfaction. Without knowing what your saving goal is, your motivation to save will decrease quicker than if you do. I want to give you a very important tip here: try not to be so ambitious with your goal from the beginning! Saving is an art. Be patient. Remember, you must learn how to crawl before you shoot for the stars. I’d recommend you set your first saving goal to be achieved in three months. Three months should be enough for you to create new spending habits that will help you attain this initial goal. Once your saving lifestyle becomes second nature, then you can continue increasing the amount of money you want to save. Set yourself up to succeed by making this first goal small and workable with just a few small adjustments to your lifestyle. You might cancel a magazine subscription you really don’t need, or prepare lunch at home twice more per week.
Hosting vs going out?
In my opinion, this is a no-brainer. You will typically spend more money going out because that evil plastic little thing doesn’t cry every time it’s swiped (although you will later). I can understand that saving money sometimes gets a little boring. More so if you are disciplined with yourself and decisions. I know, I know. You need a little a breather without having to worry about breaking your savings plan in order to have some fun. Well, my darlings, hosting your friends is the answer! Invite them over or ask another friend if you can host a small dinner party at their place. To make things even easier and more money-friendly, divide the things to be brought at this at-home get together. For example, you can offer to cook while another friend brings the wine and so on. I promise you, you will still have the time of your life. Crank the music up and let’s have us some low-budget fun!
Learn how to say no.
Saving takes a lot of effort. At least in the beginning, especially when you’re a student. You’ve envisioned all these future plans that will start taking place once you’ve saved enough. Just when you thought you were safely at home, away from temptation, your friend calls. You’ve just been invited to happy hour at your favorite bar—and that in itself wouldn’t cost much, but you know yourself. You will end up going to another place afterwards which is even pricier. It will almost devastate you to decline the offer but honey, you must. Tough it out just a little more. Say no and continue on being the conscientious adult you know you can be. It will all pay off soon enough. And if you’re dying for some social interaction, you can always suggest your friend pick up some wine and head over to your place.
Ask yourself, “Is this really necessary?”
There’s one question I constantly ask myself during when I’m in saving mode: is this really necessary? Some might even say it’s some sort shopping mantra I’ve developed. What do I mean by ‘necessary’? Well, ‘necessary’ to me means something that it would be detrimental to my survival to avoid. Will that new dress with the funky print make feel all warm and fuzzy? Yes. Will it impact my basic needs of survival? Absolutely not! Will it set me back in my saving vision? Unfortunately, it will. Necessary things may include but are not limited to: school supplies, food that is not considered junk (always be mindful in what you put into your body), personal hygiene items, and more. Think and re-think it before you buy it. Self-control is a pain but you must think of the final outcome!
I’m not saying you shouldn’t spoil yourself every so often (in fact I recommend it) but you need to find balance. Save a few months and then responsibly indulge when you’ve obtained at least half your goal. I promise you, it will feel even better then. Now, let’s put to use the organizational skills we have learned during some time in our lives as students! A few months of sacrifice will fly by before you know it. So, who’s ready to save?