How to Budget Your Way Through College (Part 1)

If you’re a college student chances are you’re broke. Or maybe you have money saved up, but you know it’s about to go towards books and tuition so in the near future you’ll be broke. As a college student you might as well have zero dollars in your bank account at all times.

If you’re parents are paying or helping you pay for your college, then I may be slightly jealous, but this post still relates to you. There will come a time in your life where you’ll have to stop relying on your parents for things. For some, like me, this may have happened at 16-18, for others it may be after you graduate college and acquire a steady job.

Although I do have to pay for my tuition, along with many other things, I am still living at home rent free. Attending community college was a choice I did for my bank account and sanity. I can assure you that it wasn’t because I can’t bear to leave my parents, or the town where everyone knows everyone.

Here are some tips and tricks that help me save to avoid student loans and mountains of debt after graduation.

1. Work! I know, it seems pretty obvious, right? The amount of students not working while at school though is large. To many students it seems impossible to manage your classes and homework load not to mention working on the side.  However, if you learn to manage your time you can still get A’s and earn a little extra cash. Find a job that works well with your schedule, and communicate with them what you believe you can handle. An on campus job is probably the best route if possible. Even if it’s 5 hours a week, at 9 dollars an hour that’s $45 you didn’t have before.

As a full time student, I am able to nanny about 6 hours a week, and work about 20 hours a week. Sure, I usually am pretty busy, but I find time to do the things I enjoy.

2. Give yourself a percentage. If you have a job, give yourself a percentage of every paycheck for spending. 20% of every paycheck is for spending, and the 80% goes straight to savings.

3. Stop your pointless spending. Who doesn’t love a cup of Joe in the morning to kick us into gear? It’s amazing how quickly the money you’re spending on fru fru coffee adds up. I know, you’re probably thinking how could you possibly go without your Starbucks fix? I hate to break it to you, but coffee isn’t cheap at places like Starbucks and Biggby. Say you spend $4 at a coffee joint, 4 four times a week. That’s $16 dollars a week, $64 a month, and $768 a year.  If you limited it to once a week, you’d be saving $576 a year and probably would look forward to it more. For the other days of the week buy a 12 oz. bag of coffee grounds that usually are around $4, but make approximately 40 cups.

4. Write it out. It may seem tedious, but write down every dollar you make or spend and what you spend it on. It puts things into perspective. At the end of the month calculate it and figure out what you’ve earned that month. If you’re really inspired, look for things you can cut back on.

5. Give yourself goals. Things like “By the end of this month, I want to have $4,000 in my account.” Incentive is always helpful. Maybe it means no going out to dinner this month, or picking up a few extra shifts at work.

I hope someone finds one or more of these 5 simple tips helpful. They aren’t realistic to everyone, but maybe you can catch onto one and see if it helps you save.

Maybe you’re not saving for college, but a vacation or something different. Do you have any special tips or tricks to help you save? Let me know, I’m always open to suggestions and would love to hear from you!

My Take on New Year Resolutions

It’s that time again; another year has yet again passed us by.

This time of year is all about resolutions, and turning a new leaf.

I’ve never been a big fan of New Year resolutions, you see, I don’t think resolutions should be set because of a date.

I believe they need to come about because you’ve hit a point where you came to the realization something in your life must change.

Maybe because you screwed up big time; maybe you’ve hit rock bottom. Maybe you’ve been called out and realize how true that person is.

So many reasons to turn your life around, but personally, I don’t think a date should be one of them.

No Rush

It’s been a trend in my family to marry young. Not because we’re strangely religious or conservative, but because they knew what they wanted; kudos to them. All of my siblings, their spouses, and my parents tied the knot by 21, the youngest being 18. When you know, you know; or so I’ve heard..

Although sometimes kidding, I think people make assumptions that I’ll follow suit.  Recently I’ve received comments about my love life; or you could say non-existent love life.  Such as: “When are you going to get married?” Somewhat jokingly. “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?” “We like all the in-laws so far, don’t mess it up.”

This frustrates me. Let me just hop in my time machine and let you know when the special day is. What’s it to you if I don’t have a boyfriend? And clearly it’s my duty to make sure that everyone approves.

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Family gatherings can be difficult, I won’t deny it.  Being the only one lacking a significant other can be lonely. Everyone has their partner for games while I tag along with a couple of my choosing.  Everyone having that partner’s shoulder to cry on at our Grandpa’s funeral.

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Let me be clear, I don’t think poorly of those who marry young, whatsoever. Not that it would matter if I did.

What I do have a problem with is people making comments that make an eighteen-year-old woman feel pressured to get a move on; in any way, even if it’s just to have a boyfriend.  As if it’s normal to marry young or it’s weird that I’m still single.

I’ve had the fairy tale misconception in my head since I was young that women are to marry prince charming, have babies, and stay home with those babies, while the strong successful husband provides for wife and said babies.

Of course, I desire that feeling of unconditional love someday. Knowing what it’s like to share my life with someone, faults and all.

BUT I also desire to love myself, become my own person; to have a chance to be independent and make something of myself.

I’ve learned that it’s okay for me to take my dear old time, I mean come on, I’m eighteen. I’ve learned that if I never get married or have kids, there’s a reason. I’ve learned I can be successful on my own, that I can take care of myself. I’ve learned that I don’t need a man to complete me.

The Positives

What do your conversations look like?

I’ve realized my conversations with friends had been revolving around the things that are going poorly.

Most of the problems being petty, on my part and theirs.

I addressed this problem and three of my friends and I have decided to hold each other accountable. At the end of the day, we list off our positives, no matter how little it may have been.

I can’t tell you how much it’s changed my perspective. Of course, the negatives are still in my horizon but they’re continuing to shrink.  I’m learning how to put them into perspective.  Will this problem actually matter in 5, 10, 20 years from now?

Participating in this has taught me that even in the darkest of days there’s beauty surrounding us.

I challenge you to look beyond your struggles, and search for good.  Search for something to reflect positively on.

Since today’s not over here are my positives from yesterday.

-Due to helping someone pay their tab last weekend when their card was being declined I was given a very kind thank you card and a generous tip.

-My boss texted me and said he was impressed.

-I woke up rested, rather than exhausted like I normally do.

-Due to being rested I had enough time to enjoy a cup of coffee.

It doesn’t have to be something extraordinary; it can be as simple getting a haircut, a cup of coffee, or buying gas for $2.86.

What are your positives today? I’d love to hear from you!

Fellow Wonderers

If there’s one thing I struggle with; it’s catching myself wondering, worrying, and speculating what the future holds way too frequently.

What happens after college?

Desiring to know whom my husband is, when I’ll get married or even if I will get married.

Wondering what career I should embark upon.

Will I have money issues?

Am I going find a job out of college?

To all my fellow wonderers, being unsure is terrifying.

However, although frustrating; I’m slowly learning to be patient, to trust in God’s plan for my life, and that being aware and prepared for what the future holds is a good thing, but to appreciate the place I’m at now.

Consequences

I try to claim that life isn’t fair. That what I did/do wasn’t that bad. Denial is key, right?

Unfortunately it’s not. No matter how much we may want denial to work, it won’t. The reality of it is that you did make a mistake. You did make a wrong choice. You did have a lapse in judgement.

Running from the problem isn’t going to help anything. Take responsibility and own up to your mistakes; face the consequences. Everyone makes them.

Learn from them but don’t let your mistakes define you.

Morning Routine

No matter what time I have to get up, if my alarm clock has to be set for a specific time I’m not going to like it.  So I try to make things a little easier for myself.

1. Set two alarm clocks. A “warning alarm” ten minutes before your real one.  It helps prepare you for the real one when you actually have to get up and face the day and makes you appreciate those last ten minutes.

2. Choose an outfit the night before. Don’t stress yourself out in the morning by going through ten outfits trying to find the right one. The last thing you want to do in the morning is boost your anxiety level. Rest easy knowing you don’t have to worry about it.

3. Pre-grind your coffee, have it all prepared so you can just flip a switch. You won’t have to wait as long for your morning dosage.  Better yet, if you can, pre-set your fancy coffee maker to have it ready when you wake.

4. Too tired before you go to bed to get everything you need for your morning excursion ready? Text yourself a list of the things you need to remember to bring.

5. If you’re really dreading getting up give yourself something to look forward to.  Whether it be a date, a ice cream treat, reading a good book, or simply going to bed that night. It’ll help you get through whatever it is you have going on that day.

Do you have any tricks to make your morning easier?