The end of your summer job does not have to mean the end of your good times. Sure, money is less plentiful without that regular pay cheque. But if you develop a few thrifty habits you can make your savings last longer and get more mileage out of the bucks you still have left in your bank account.
Learn how to budget. A budget is a simple tally of what you pay for every month. To start out, save your receipts from every purchase you make in a single week and add up everything you spent. If the total is more than a quarter of your monthly income, you are spending too much. To budget, make a list of all of your necessary expenses: groceries, gas, tuition, rent, phone, etc. Write down how much money you can spend per month at the top of the list, and circle it. Then go through each item on your list and estimate how much it will cost. (HINT: look at the receipts you saved, or previous bills, for a solid ballpark number.) Finally, get into the habit of putting aside money to cover each bill. Keep track of your budget with a written list, a spreadsheet budget template or another system that works for you.
Only carry cash. Shopping on a budget is easier if you pay with cash. Having a debit or credit card in your wallet makes you more likely to spring for treats and items you don’t need and can’t afford. When you only bring the amount of money you can spend in cash, it mentally reinforces your budget. Your shopping ends once your money is gone because there’s no running to the ATM.
Make use of promotions, rewards points and coupons. Save money when you shop and keep the extra in your wallet. Each week, spend about ten minutes online researching the weekly deals at your favourite stores. Some store websites offer coupons and you can also find manufacturers’ coupons for branded products on company websites. Certain stores will even let you combine manufacturers’ coupons with store coupons for double discounts. When you shop at a Vicinity merchant you can earn reward points that you redeem for freebies – and you can qualify for special loyalty offers that save you money on everything from groceries to haircuts.
Socialize at home. Everyone loves a good night out. But if you always go out to dinner, to bars, to movies, shopping or elsewhere (don’t forget transportation costs) it can empty your wallet, fast. Instead, invite people over for a movie night. Host a potluck dinner – share food and drink without the worry of paying a big bill. Gather friends together for a clothing swap meet instead of hitting the mall.