There are only a few things I truly, genuinely love in this world. One of which is money. I f*cking love money! Maybe that’s why I’m a finance major, despite a continuous history of despising any form of math. Even if you are not money-obsessed like me, I’m sure we both want the same thing: financial security. In college, you want to feel at least somewhat capable of funding your nights out, your Postmates deliveries, and general miscellaneous things that pop up. This doesn’t even include, you know, like, your education itself, or textbooks (barf). So I am here as a personal Jordan Belfort, per se, to tell you how to be not be a broke-ass b*tch for the duration of your schooling. I know he’s a stockbroker, and not necessarily an advisor, but just go with it.
Formulate a budget
Please, please, hear me out. I know this sounds like literal hell, but trust me, it makes a difference. I don’t mean you have to make a spreadsheet or comb through your bank statements. You barely have to do any work if you use budgeting apps like Mint or Pocketguard, which allow you to connect the app to your card and see a variety of statistics on where you’re spending your money. Setting a budget will allow you to account for what you’re spending the most on and your overall patterns, and you can only improve your spending when you have a knowledge of its current status. Like, you might think you only spend $100 per month on going out (LMAO), but once you see the hard numbers, it’s a lot harder to lie to yourself. I know you fellow online shopping
addicts lovers have all your credit card information memorized, so let’s put that sh*t to good use for once.
Do not pay full price for niche items or one-time wears
There will be a ton of date parties, dances, and other occasions that you will most likely have to buy stupid sh*t for. Scouring the internet for the cheapest pair of pink cowboy boots might not seem like the most fun use of your time, but a bit of planning and searching when it comes to niche items can save you a ton of money. I am literally giving you a justification to online shop instead of doing homework, so take it! I save money on random clothes by taking advantage of student discounts and using resale websites like Poshmark. I know what you make be thinking, “student discounts for students, groundbreaking.” But there are a lot of programs and/or stores that give you a discount for putting yourself through four years of distress, and all you have to do is ask! Obvious ones include ASOS, TopShop, and Amazon’s student Prime membership, but even Outdoor Voices is now offering an expansive student perk program. Like, sorry, but you don’t need designer go-go boots for your 70s theme party. Go to a cheap store with student discounts or buy used ones.
Have the money conversation
Sometimes the thing that costs us the most is our aversion to any form of an uncomfortable conversation *hits blunt.* The reality is that as you make new friends and meet new people, your financial expectations and ideas of money are simply not always going to match up. This can go both ways and can encompass a ton of things. However, if you are feeling financially stretched, I guarantee you another person in your group is as well. Are you guys all going to split Ubers? Does everyone purchase their own alcohol for pregames or do you all split it? It’s especially important to talk about money with your friends if you’re planning any trips for Spring Break or any other occasion. Differences in travel expectations can create huge rifts within the group. It’s important to address things relating to money so you don’t end up angrily staring at an excessive Venmo charge, or worse, have some bitch ignore your passive-aggressive Venmo request.
Use investing apps
I understand this is technically more long-term, but it is still a great way to lay a foundation for financial independence later on. And don’t get freaked out by how old-fashioned that sentence sounded. Investing apps may sound scary, but they take virtually no skill at all and could probably be utilized by a blind dog. If you spend a lot of money on your debit card, Acorns is a perfect passive investing app that leaves little room for you to f*ck anything up. Acorns rounds up any purchase you make to the next dollar and invests it in things called Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). ETFs are are pretty much the Jennifer Aniston of investments: they’ve only grown in popularity since the 90s and are pretty unproblematic, but not crazy exciting. Acorns usually charges a small fee for use, but people under 24 and in college can use it for free.
If you’re more into having control over what exact investments your money touches, Robinhood allows you to buy and sell stocks without the trading charges you normally have on other large platforms. Again, investing is more of a long-term flex, and you’ll most likely not make any notable amounts of cash to use immediately this way, but if you somehow figure out the next Big Short on a millennial investing app, call me. It’s only fair.
Consider setting up a separate savings for an emergency fund/study abroad
I like my money how I like my carbs: just out of reach. If you have a borderline concerning lack of self-control (guilty as charged!), consider opening up a separate savings/debit account to put money into that you’ll only use for a specific purpose. I did this when I got to school, and many banks don’t charge you to open a new account. I’m going abroad this year, so I’ve been dedicating a portion of each of my paychecks to go toward my separate account, and I don’t let myself touch it at all. This is painful in the moment, as I’d love to keep a little extra money to spend on everyday sh*t, but I also really want to be able to flex on hoes this semester with my study abroad posts. Again, this is a priority for me, but it may not be the same for you, so personalize as you wish.
Hopefully my basic knowledge and inflated ego helped you realize you can still buy the sh*t you want while also being smart with your money. If you’re going to destroy your body with ungodly amounts of stress, sleep, and drinking, you might as well be financially healthy.
Images: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash; Giphy (3)