College is done – when does the “poor college kid” thing end?

I’ve been at my job for the past 6 months and, I will admit, it is absolutely wonderful to have a steady income. However, with all my student loans and regular monthly bills, it doesn’t feel like I’m done digging my way out of the “poor college kid” persona. I know it’s something that lots of recent college grads have to experience, but now that I’m looking at buying a new car this summer, it’s time for me to start making some (important, even if seemingly small) goals.

Below is my list of ways to alter my budget in order to save more. Do you have some suggestions of things to add? I know finances are something most people have to work hard to be good at, so I’ll take any advice or words of wisdom out there!

Amanda’s Money-Saving Goals (until after she gets a new car!):

  1. No more movies out of the $5 bin at Wal-Mart/Target.
  2. No more iTunes purchases. If new music is out, listen to it on Spotify.
  3. No more new clothes. Wear what you have!
  4. Eat out no more than once a week (excluding work travel).
  5. Eat at a fast food restaurant no more than once a month (excluding work travel).
  6. No more than one movie (including popcorn and pop) in the theaters per month.
  7. After finishing the movies in current queue, cancel Netflix DVDs.
  8. Get Minnesota driver’s license so I can switch to the carpooling parking pass.
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8 responses

  1. I might also suggest coupon cutting and grocery shopping on free sample day.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Elizabeth! I usually don’t coupon because I feel like I buy things I wouldn’t originally, just because I have a coupon. But I should definitely start checking the coupons for stuff already on my list, just in case.

  2. What I did was look at people that were rich and did what they did. I have found that it really takes a paradigm shift in the way we were taught which really affects the way you live today. (Most of that was ingrained before you started school). Listen to Dave Ramsey… he’ll tell you you are wasting money on a brand new car. But, he will also give you some incredible advice on doing what you are wanting to do.

    Course, you could also choose to make more money. That was the route I wanted to pursue. Course, that led to more taxes, but, hey, we need to pay some US debt down too.

    Good Luck!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Steve! My dad is actually doing the Dave Ramsey courses right now and he said the same thing. I won’t be getting a brand new car, probably something that’s a few years old with somewhat low miles instead. Right now I just need something that’s a little more reliable than what I have with lower maintenance issues. The other thing he said that Dave Ramsey suggests is not keeping any credit cards – I can already check that one off the list!

      Trust me, I’m working on making more money 🙂 Just takes a little time!

  3. Do you have ATM fees? If so, try to decrease those by planning ahead or switching to a credit union.

    Plan meals ahead and buy wisely. You’d be amazed at how much you can save.
    -For example, buying Fiber One cereals at $3.59/ box is a deal, and diet rite or soda at$0.89 to $1.00/ 2 liter is a deal.
    -Buy larger packages of ground beef for $2.99/ lb vs. the smaller ones that are $3.59/ lb and freeze the excess in small containers.
    -Look for Manager Specials in the meat department. Last week I bought ground beef for $1.99/ lb.
    – Drink more water and make your own iced tea.

    Check out websites that reward you for using them- Swagbucks is a good one: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/cowzz . You use it like a search engine and collect rewards… then cash in the rewards for an Amazon or iTunes gift card.

    Use the library instead of buying books.

    1. Great ideas! Thanks, Robin!

  4. Meal plan. Before you head to the grocery store, sit down and plan out a handful of meals (or however long you’re shopping for). Buy the items you need and plan for leftovers. You can either repurpose meals or eat the leftovers straight — i.e. roast a small chicken or chicken breasts and serve with rice/veggies and then use the leftover chicken in soup, a casserole, etc. I spend much less at the store when I have everything written on a list. It cuts down on impulse buys too.

    Look at your grocery bill and see where you can cut extra money. Buy yourself a rice cooker and start making *real* rice instead of buying instant; buy dry beans and cook them, substituting them for canned beans in recipes; switch from instant oatmeal to old fashioned rolled oats; try drinking more water instead of soda, juice, etc. Try buying “off” brand items to see where you can substitute them for name brand. I’ve found things like canned tomatoes, mayo, rolled oats, cereal, shredded cheese, and vinegar can be substituted. Things like peanut butter and parmesan cheese can NOT.

    I don’t use coupons very much. I’ve found that much of what we eat never has coupons (meat, veggies, rice/dry beans) but I do watch for coupons for the personal care items we have to buy (we get some for free as a perk of Cris’ job). Like Robin, I also watch for manager specials on meat. I know that Wal-Mart here discounts their meat on Tuesday mornings so I shop before lunch on Tuesday to catch sales.

    You can also save money by making your own laundry detergent, using vinegar and water as window cleaner, and using baking soda/vinegar to clean your bathroom. Buy more kitchen towels and microfiber cleaning towels and use them instead of paper towels to clean up messes with.

    Feeling that money crunch with school loans is tough. We’re still paying mine off. But remember that your education is going to give you more advantages in life. You might be struggling now compared to someone with no school loans (and no education), but in 10, 15 or 20 years you’ll be at the advantage with a job that has great potential for advancement.

  5. It is great for you to be thinking about these things now before you get too far gone, however you should be careful to not do anything too drastic too fast. Your list seems reasonable but I know from experience that if you cut yourself off from everything all at once it usually doesn’t work because you will feel deprived of everything. The movies, the carpooling the cutting back on eating out great, like I said your list so far is reasonable. I agree with you. there doesn’t seem to be coupons for what I like to buy and it is smart of you to not buy just because of having a coupon, but looking into coupons for personal products and stuff like that is a great idea (i might start looking more too). Also you can probably go directly to web sites of things and places you like to see if they offer an on line coupon AND you can print out as many as you like. You have to find what works for you. Example, whenever I plan too many meals in advance life tends to happen and I end up wasting food because it goes bad, so for us I actually do save more by shopping every other day. I have been making more dinners so their are not as much leftovers because more times then not they don’t get eaten. Try some different ideas and if you can live with them great and if not then switch gears a little bit. You are so wise, you will figure it out and will have that new (new to you) car before you know it!

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