Updated: Feb 11, 2021
Hello my lovely readers! With the start of a new year in college being right around the corner, I wanted to talk today about something very important.
Money Money Money!!
When in college, you learn a lot of things including how to be independent and spend money responsibly. It's your first time living away from home. And it's a very excited time! And I time where you will be making a lot of mistakes like I did...
Throwback to Freshman Kye! Click Above for my freshman room tour blog
Now as I am entering my senior year, I have been so much more intentional about financial wellness, budgeting, investing, and just being smart and intentional about money.
Today I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned and the mistakes I have made so that you can avoid them. I’m also sharing some of my favorite resources for learning more about financing and budgeting.
But before we dive in, I am so excited to share that this blog is in collaboration with SohLive - a brand about all things wellness. Along with reading this blog, be sure to listen to the conversation on her Podcast for some more tips about financial stability in college.
Click here for all the ways you can listen to the SohLive podcast! new episodes are posted every other Monday!
Let's get started with some of my tips to saving money and being financially smart in college!
And stay tuned to the end for free resources!
1. Don’t Buy New Textbooks
I wanted to start out with this first tip because it is one you will hear often. I heard it all the time when I first started college buuuuut I didn’t listen.
Umm yeah I still bought them my freshmen year. I thought that they would be a good resource and that I would use them for the MCAT and can sell them afterwards.
But now 3 years later that I am studying for the MCAT I realize that I don’t need these huge textbooks like I thought I would my freshmen year. And they are so expensive. Since I am given a textbook stipend from my scholarship each year that pushed me more to buy the books since I was given the money to do so. I didn't think "Kye just cause you're given $600 for textbooks doesn't mean you need to spend $600 on textbooks...cause if you don't spend it you get to SAVE it!"
I’m not saying don’t get the textbook at all because they can be helpful. I used the textbook for BSCI440, BSCI410 and BCHM461. Sometimes it is really helpful to be able to read the explanations and use the chapter problems for practice.
Now especially with having an iPad I try to use PDFs or digital copies of the book. You can find free PDFs or buy the digital copies are much cheaper. If you are someone who really likes to have a physical book I would look for the used copies at the book store or buying from students who took the course before.
I would suggest waiting until the first few weeks of classes and asking people who have taken the course before if the textbook is useful and then looking for the best bargain you can find.
2. Use Your Dining Plan - Eating Out Adds Up
My next tip is to use your dining plan! Thankfully I have a full academic scholarship which covers all my university costs including my dining plan which came with dining dollars that can be used at the cafes.
My advice is to use these dining dollars and your dining plan! The way I looked at it is that you’ve already paid for those meals so it is a great way to not have extra expenses.
I had $200 of dining dollars with my dining plan and I spent the majority of it on coffee. This gave me some good practice at budgeting because I knew I would make that $200 coffee and snack budget last me for the whole semester. When that $200 of dining dollars was up...that was it. This was one if the first ways I tried to keep myself accountable of my money and start the practice of budgeting!
Now, I live in an apartment and am no longer on a dining plan, so I’ll chat more about the apartment and budgeting later on. But I just really wanted to stress how much you can save by avoiding eating out. I'm all for the occasional lunch or brunch with my friends or the occasional pizza on Route 1, but my tip is to decide at the start of each month how much you plan to spend and then trying to stick to it.
3. On Campus Jobs
Whether you need to contribute to paying for your education or want to save for the future, on campus jobs is a good opportunity to earn some money. I do want to say that if you don’t need to work, maybe wait until you are an upperclassmen or at least after your first year of college to start adding jobs to your schedule as you don’t want to overwhelm yourself while you are still getting used to college classes. If you do need to work as an underclassmen, ask around and find out which jobs are mostly flexible and would allow you to study while at work such as a desk job.
I started working during my Junior year as a supplemental instructor and will continue working as a tutor through my senior year. I used the money that I made to pay for my groceries which helped me to not have to use my savings to pay for those monthly expenses.
4. Meal Prep and Grocery Shopping
Since I am now living in an apartment, it was really important for me to make sure I was spending money carefully since I am not off my dining plan and need to pay my rent and provide my meals for myself each month. This tip goes along with the tip about avoiding eating out. If you are in an apartment and need to cook your own meals, it is much much easier to start eating out and/or ordering food when you don't have anything cooked at home.
Especially as a college student, there are weeks when you have exams or you had a long day and you can't just go to the dining hall like you did before and have meals prepared for you.
My tip is meal prepping!
I am sure that you have heard of meal prepping before, but the idea is to make your meals for the whole week. This really works well for me! Honestly, I cook and eat variations of the same meals: chicken, fish, pasta, rice and veggies. I love having my meals prepped because I can throw it in my bad and go about my day. Most weeks, I only will eat out once!
Another tip is to be intentional about your grocery shopping. In my first few grocery shops on my own, I definitely bought some things that I just didn't use or eat as much as I thought I would and that is....wasting money!
I like to shop at Aldi and Lidl - I find that their prices are amazing and I usually spend less than $100 for my grocery run which gives me enough meals for 3-4 weeks. I found that shopping at stores like Target was way to expensive, I would only go to the Target when I had to pick up a few things but I always left spending $30 to $40...for like 5 things, like literally one bag of stuff - I was PISSED. Haha, once you start paying attention to your money and working on saving you hate spending more than you need.
Share with your roommates
I think a great tip is - if your roommates agree- you all should share groceries and appliances. In the first few months of living in our apartment, my roommates and I realized that we would have like 3 cartons of eggs, 2 cartoons of milk, multiple cheeses, just so many multiples of the same things. And then things would go bad because it was too much product for one person. We decided to share groceries and this can be beneficial to everyone!
One week my roommate buys the eggs, when they're done I'll buy them the next time, and so on. Just make sure you have good communication about what is shared and what isn't shared!
5. Budgeting Your Money
Here is where I really made mistakes at first. When I started college and got my first financial aid refund that was the most money I had to my name. When you are young, it is easy for even just $1000 to feel like this bottomless bit of money. Oh did I learn.
When you are not thinking strategically and intentionally about your money it can go so quickly, especially when you are new to campus and buying textbooks, and going to events, going to lunch with new friends, paying for parking for your family and friends to visit you on campus, it all starts to add up. I remember thinking at the end of my first semester where did my money go!!
After that first semester, I knew I was making mistakes. This is why I'm here to share that a college budget is crucial! I suggest sitting down with your family members or someone you trust and working out a budget that would work best for your financial situation
This takes me into my new resource that I want to share!
College Budget Breakdown Template
I made this excel sheet to help give a template for your budget. I just want to share that budgeting doesn't have to intimidating or hard. Honestly I kept thinking of more to add to the template for you all but truly this is a great start and it's based on the spreadsheet I used to budget.
What is great about budgeting is that you can see your trends over time and see which categories you are under budget and which categories you are over budget with.
6. College Credit Cards
I truly feel like an adult because I recently opened up my first credit card and am working to start building credit! Yaaaaay! I think that credit cards are great but a really big responsibility. Thankfully, as part of our collaboration, Kendra put together a guide on college credit cards that I'm happy to share with you all!
As far as my tips, I honestly procrastinated opening my credit card for moooonths. I just knew that I needed to be smart when dealing with credit and wanted to be sure I was ready. Honestly, I would not have wanted freshman or sophomore Kye to have a credit card but now at 20 almost 21 years old I felt this was a perfect time for me- especially with how money careful I have become.
Something important to remember about credit cards is to not spend what you don't have! Even with that in mind, I still found it exciting to be able to buy something and not actually pay for it right away...the way your mind plays tricks on you y'all!!
I plan to use my credit card for groceries and restaurants once I am back in my apartment since I get cash back with these kinds of purchases.
Be sure to read the guide for more tips!
Finally I wanted to end the blog with some financial resources. Education is powerful and the more we know the more we can grow and establish our financial stability. I went on a financial graze the other day and was just so into researching how to save, how to invest, how to live on a budget, how to manage your credit, just everything you could think of!
Here are some of the accounts I have been loving - comment any that you like down below!
Clever Girl Finance
Clever Girl Finance is a a great instagram account that is all about empowering women to achieve financial success. I always talk abut how important it is to have social media be informative and empowering for you.
The Break Platform
I love Patricia Bright and her new platform is AMAZING. I have honestly watched every. single.video. and also listen to her podcast. Patricia is literally goals and has built an empire! It has really inspired me to save, invest and build a brand and business!
My Fab Finance
This is another great account, especially as it is from black women for black women
I hope you all enjoyed todays blog and enjoy the budget template and college credit card guide. Money is a personal topic but I think it is important for us to talk about how to manage our money, especially during college! As I mentioned throughout- we're going to make financial mistakes and that's ok- today I wanted to share some of my mistakes and tips for you all and I'm sure there will be more that I will make.
Which tip was most helpful for you?
And lastly, don't forget to check out the SohLive podcast!