It can be difficult to live on a budget if you feel like you’re constantly running out of money: you pay the bills, buy groceries and other necessities, and before you know it, you don’t have much left in your bank account.
This is a constant struggle amongst college students that can be avoided. Sure, money is tight, but if you cut out the things you don’t need, then you just might be surprised with how much cash is left in your wallet at the end of the month.
Here are eight things that can sabotage your budget if you’re not looking for the best bargain:
There’s nothing quite like that dreaded trip to the bookstore during the first week of classes, right?
Here’s a piece of advice that will save you money and spare you from waiting an hour in line once you’re there: Don’t go to the bookstore!
If you are still paying full price for your textbooks, then stop immediately. There are plenty of websites that sell the same books for a much cheaper price, and some of these sites give you an even better deal if you return them at the end of the semester. Amazon, for example, has a great rental program you could be using for all of your books.
- New Technology
Yes, it’s a little bigger than the previous version. Sure, the camera is slightly better. But you do not need the new iPhone!
There’s a social pressure to always have the latest gadget. But guess what? The last iPhone works just as well as the new one. Maybe it’s a split-second slower, but you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have on the new one just because it’s new.
Take care of the technology you currently have and it will serve you well. Hold on to it until it dies and you absolutely need to upgrade it.
- Expensive Coffee
Coffee is an everyday necessity for most people, but don’t empty your wallet for your morning cup of joe.
Brand name coffee shops (you know the ones) have great coffee, but they also have high prices. You can downgrade to more affordable coffee until you earn more money or, better yet, make your own coffee. After all, any kind of caffeine will get the job done.
- Full-Price Items
You know that coupon book you always get in the mail and then immediately throw in the garbage? Don’t toss it. Start using it!
Retailers are constantly having sales on certain items, and a quick Google search will show you the cheapest option for whatever you’re looking for. There are also some cash back websites that give you exclusive deals, as well as rewards when you use their service. Do yourself a favor and never pay full price again.
- Restaurants or Take-Out
How many times are you eating out or ordering food every week? And how much are you spending on restaurants versus the grocery store? If your restaurant spending outweighs your grocery bill, a good goal is to flip those numbers around.
An occasional trip to your favorite restaurant is acceptable. But keep in mind that one night at a fancy restaurant can equal a week or two of homemade meals.
- Credit Card Mistakes
Make sure you sign up for the right credit card that matches your needs, if you really need one at all.
Many people make mistakes with their credit card that leads to financial trouble. For instance, credit card companies may try to hit you with an annual fee. To get around it, however, you can contact their customer service to request that they waive the fee. There are plenty of cards without an annual fee as well, so be sure to take a look at those options.
In addition, be sure to pay your balance each month. This will help you avoid paying astronomically high interest fees.
- Brand Name Products
Sometimes certain things are expensive solely because of their brand name, when a cheaper version of the same product works just as well. And here’s another tip: if you do a little research to see where a product was manufactured, you may find that the store brand is the same as the name brand, just with a different label (like ketchup). So make sure you check out the cheaper brand before you make your purchase.
It’s time to get rid of that cable bill.
The entertainment industry is starting to cater to instant streaming, which means you can watch any show you want at any time. It also turns out that signing up for major streaming services with a standard TV plan is a lot cheaper than a 200-channel cable plan.
Practice being intentional about your spending. Take a moment and think about each purchase before you make it, and you may find that there’s a good chance you can save your money for something you find more important.
Anum Yoon started and maintains Current on Currency, where she shares her hard-earned insights on money management.