Published in the Spring 2006 issue • Features
Sure, saving your pennies is tougher than spending them. But when it comes to cash, it pays to be in control.
Continued from page 2
Save your money, just like the guy in that ad says
Spending and saving is what people without full-time jobs should focus on. Commit yourself to not touching your savings, unless you’ve set aside a separate stash for short-term splurges, like a grad trip to Cancun.
Where to save
- Eating out. Fast food is terrible for your health, plus it’s wildly expensive. Seven bucks for a couple of tacos and a Pepsi? Pffft.
- Magazines (um, other than this one). You can read Nylon and Spin for free in comfy chairs at the bookstore. It’s not a sin to read Utne on the newsstand, either. And, I promise, there is nothing true in Us Weekly.
- Trendy crap. If you don’t love an item of clothing or decoration for your pad, don’t buy it. Alternately, put something on hold for 24 hours before buying it if you’re not 100 percent sure you need it.
Where to spend
- Experiences. Road trip to the other side of the country? Tickets to see your favourite band? Hot-air ballooning with your makeout buddy? Yes, yes and yes.
- Education. As long as you take advantage of school (the library, athletic facilities and student centre will almost always hold untold treasures of freeness), investing in your mind is a great use of money, and will usually pay off when you get better jobs because of it.
- Quality stuff. One hot multi-use dress that fits you just right and costs the same as two “meh” dresses is worth the money. One well-constructed pair of shoes costing $100 will usually outlast five pairs of $30 shoes.
Other ways to give your bank account a boost
- Break big bills when you spend money and put the change in a jar. Empty the jar into your savings account instead of the mall.
- Scam where you can. Nothing illegal, but don’t spend money where you don’t have to. Maybe your mom can provide school supplies from her office stash, or your lab partner can get you a discount at the sports store where she works.
- Trading books, clothes and music at swap parties is a great way to hang out with your friends sans spending.
- Avoid Wal-Mart and big box stores. Stuff there may appear to be cheaper, but these stores often treat their workers poorly in order to keep prices low and the quality is usually so pathetic that you’ll end up spending more on the same junk in a few years.
- Don’t believe the hype. No matter how many times Gwen Stefani sings “ch-CHING!” or how endless Lindsay Lohan’s handbag collection seems, most material items are unimportant. Seriously.
- Write everything down. Recording every penny you spend—from bottled water to your tuition—may sound heinous and nerdy, but after a week or so, you’ll be able to tally up how much you’re spending on things you don’t really care about. Bonus points for recording how many ATM trips you’re making and for figuring out the potential savings of hitting the bank once a week or once a month instead. Soon enough, your savings account (which you won’t touch, right?) will be as fat and happy as a new baby.