Approximately a year ago, when I was living in Los Angeles, I turned to my close friend and asked her if she had a savings account…she laughed…loudly. I then broke into laughter with her. We were not laughing because we thought it was insanely hilarious that we did not have savings accounts. We were laughing because 'how could anyone ever think a college student in LA would have a savings account when you have to pay for college, insane rent, groceries, a car payment, car insurance, health insurance, a phone bill and gas?'
As I talked with more and more friends, I realized the majority of them did not have a savings account. We had all these dreams of traveling, getting married, getting a car, getting a home, and eventually having kids - but no money to do so. Although it may seem difficult, it's important to start saving now. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
DON'T STOP APPLYING FOR SCHOLARSHIPS
Even after freshman year, college students should still apply for scholarships. There are many scholarships available to people already in college and this could cut the cost of your tuition and books. This would allow you to put more of your personal money toward saving.
Create a weekly and monthly budget for yourself. This budget should be specific and include your bills and money that has to go toward books, groceries, and an allowance for entertainment.
LOOK AT BANK ACCOUNTS BEFORE SHOPPING
Looking at your bank account before shopping will prevent you from overdrafting your accounts and also remind yourself to budget.
SAVING ACCOUNTS AREN'T OPTIONAL
Stop thinking of having a savings account as optional and start treating it like a bill. In your budget, include the amount you will take out of each paycheck to put into savings. Even if it’s $30, it will make a difference in the long run.
DON'T ABUSE CREDIT
Only use your credit card on purchases for which you already have the money so you can pay off your card as soon as possible. Check out this recent blog post for college students on how to build credit.
USE YOUR STUDENT ID
You would be surprised to find out that a majority of the stores and restaurants you go to offer a student discount. It does not hurt to carry your student ID around with you and ask just in case.
Staying in is one of the easiest ways to save money. I know you may have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) but think of all the amazing experiences you could have just by saving your money. Many college students spend way too much money on entertainment and eating out. Check out “International Travel Destinations for the Struggling College Student” for a better idea on how you could be spending your money.
LIVE LIKE A COLLEGE STUDENT
It’s time to face the facts; you’re most likely not making 75k a year, you’re in college and you need to start living like it. I know way too many college students that spend way beyond their means. They justify spending $25 on one meal or $200 in one shopping trip because they “deserve” it. Although it’s fine to splurge every once in a while to get yourself a treat, you don’t deserve to splurge like that weekly until you’ve graduated and have your first real job.
Having a savings account is necessary. You never know when you may need a new car, when you may get a great opportunity to travel, or when you might meet a great person that you want to marry. We like to think we can plan our futures, but life happens when it wants to; the best way to be prepared is by saving now.