Setting your savings goals
Your "secret stash" of savings doesn't need to be a big pile of money. It will more likely be built from dollars and cents that you can squeeze out of your daily expenses without draining the fun out of your life. To reach your goal, try these helpful tips:
- Set realistic goals and write them down. Think long-term and get out of instant-gratification mode.
- Remind yourself of that car you're trying to save up for, or use that island vacation setting location as your computer wallpaper.
- To develop your saving strategy, you might want to talk to someone who's experienced at saving, such as a parent, friend, teacher or banker.
Keeping track of your spending
It's a solid foundation for your savings plan, but a budget tells you only where your money should be going, not where it has already gone. Keep track of your receipts and expenditures every month. Whether you go out for an evening or get groceries, record what you've spent. At the end of the month take a look at where your money went and compare it to your budget to see if there are ways you could spend more efficiently.
Identifying spare change
The point is not to deprive yourself - it's OK to splurge now and then - but to be aware that small sacrifices can add up to big rewards over time.
- Bring coffee to class instead of buying at the on-campus café.
- If your friends are going out for dinner, eat a small meal before going and order a smaller, less expensive option at the restaurant.
- Take advantage of free events hosted by your school or community; attend free movie screenings and social events instead of going out on the town.
Every bit counts
- Open a student bank account that offers discounts on transaction fees, and pay off your credit card every month to avoid interest charges.
- Even if you can find only $5 a month, you're ahead of the game. It all counts and can really grow over time.
Developing a savings strategy is a feat in and of itself. Getting into the habit now will give you the skills to attain your financial goals at every stage of your life.