Hey guys! I’m Victoria, AKA Mrs. Millenniaire, and most people call me a “lifelong student”. I’m nearly 30 and STILL in school. Being a student this long has its pros and cons. The pros are obvious: education and knowledge are priceless. However, the cons of being a student this long take a toll, mainly on your bank account. I have become the ultimate saver, coupon clipping, Coinstar using, student discount queen. There are lots of ways out there to save, but the options aren’t always readily transparent. So, for my first addition to the Millenniaires, I want to help you find ways to save!
Being a professional student without any income can be challenging. As previously mentioned by Archie in Create your own personal budget, it’s essential to have a budget and save money wherever possible. I admit, some of these things take more time and effort, but I promise, it’s worth it in the end. Besides, you don’t have to do these things forever, but they may just help during tough times or only when you are in a jam. I LOVE a great deal and saving money. Bonus point: it makes me feel less guilty when I want to treat myself to a little something. Throughout the years I have found some non-traditional ways to save and earn money and here are just a few:
Do you have some spare change hanging around? There are a few ways that I have found to make the most of that extra change.
- Banks will give you a stack of free paper coin roll wrappers that you can organize your change in and bring back to the bank to deposit into your savings/checking account. Your bank should not charge for this.
- Coinstar is a great way to re-purpose spare change. Start by finding a Coinstar kiosk. There are many options to turn your change into cash or gift cards. My suggestion, choose the gift card option because there is no fee. Make sure to choose a gift card to a place that you go to or use often. For instance, I most often choose Amazon because you can get just about anything there and the gift cards never expire. When you choose the “cash” option, there is a 10% fee. The whole purpose is to make the most of your change, not pay an extra fee to use your own money.
- Walmart Savings Catcher: After you are done shopping, you can scan your receipt with your phone and the app compares prices across multiple stores to make sure you got the lowest price. If the app finds a lower price, you get back the difference, which is then loaded onto a Walmart gift card. This is a fantastic way to get additional cash back for the purchases that you’re making anyway!
- Target Cartwheel: Some people really love this app and save quite a bit. This is a good app for you if you are “pre-planner” before you go shopping. You go onto the app and pick out your savings prior to shopping, and then scan your code at checkout.
- Ibotta: Similar to the Target app. You have to pre-plan before shopping. You search for your rebates and have to “unlock” them prior to shopping. Stack this app with the Walmart Savings Catcher for even more cash back!
- Retail Me Not: I love this one! This is basically one big hub for coupons. You search for the store in the app, and they show all coupons available either “in-store” or “online”. Once you choose the coupon you want, you pull up the bar code which can then be scanned in the store or entered online.
- Groupon: This one can be a tricky if you are a “browser” (i.e., look at all the awesome deals and decide you need something based on the fact that you can’t pass up such an awesome deal). However, this app is especially useful for saving money on gifts for others. Some of my favorites are coupons for ProFlowers, Massages, Sheri’s Berries, and Edible Arrangements.
- Kohl’s: This app is great! Kohl’s has such a great variety of clothes for almost every occasion. If you sign up for the rewards program, you enter your member ID each time you buy something, and in return you get Kohl’s Cash, Member Rewards, and extra coupons.
Multiple Credit Cards:
My two cents on opening a credit card at multiple places: DON’T DO IT! Only have the credit cards you need, like Discover, Visa, or MasterCard. If you start opening up different cards at Kohl’s, Gap, Old Navy, etc., you use them, and then forget to pay them off, which then negatively affects your credit score. The less accounts you have to manage, the easier your life will be. Archie will be posting more about benefits from different credit cards later on, but find a card that gives you rewards regardless of where you purchase.
I originally signed up for Amazon Prime to be able to get my textbooks within 2 days of ordering them and with free shipping. As time went on, I realized how awesome Amazon Prime was for items other than textbooks. You pay a one-time fee ($50 annually for students; $100 annually for non-students), which allows you to have free 2-day shipping. Think about it: shipping is about $7.00 – $10.00 per order, so you break even if you make 5+ (student) or 10+ (non-student) orders within a year. The great thing about amazon is that you can find just about anything you will ever need, and they have incredible customer service. If you’d like to sign up for a free 30-day trial, click here.
If you have old stuff lying around that you never use, have a yard sale. Something you may consider “junk” may be someone else’s treasure. Yard sales are a lot of work, but worth it in the end. The key to a successful yard sale is:
- Advertising online at least 2 weeks prior.
- Posting signs 2 days prior
- Timing (Spring or Summer are the most popular months)
- Having the sale in a location with a lot of car traffic
- Having enough people to help you
- Organize items so they can be seen clearly
- Clearly mark the prices, and make the prices affordable but high enough so someone can make a deal with you and you can still feel like you’ve made a decent sale
Coffee and Lunch:
About 83% of the U.S. population are coffee drinkers. Starbucks has made it super convenient for us to go through the drive-thru in the morning before work, pick-up your coffee or latte, and move on with your day. Genius if you ask me, but not so great on your wallet. Let’s do the math (because this is how I convince myself to do things a little less convenient): on average, a venti black coffee at Starbucks is about $3.00, and if you go 7 days a week, that is $21.00 per week, times 4 weeks a month, which is $84 per month, which comes out to $1,092 per year (HOLY COW, can you imagine what else you could buy with that money?!).
The less convenient way is buying a bag of coffee from the grocery store and making your own coffee. If you are starting from scratch, a coffee maker goes from $12 (for a regular pot) to $90 (for a Keurig). You can buy a tub of coffee grounds for about $7.00 (for 30.5 oz), which is about 2 pounds. You can brew about 40 8 oz cups of coffee with 1 pound of coffee grounds. What does all this mean? I can drink 1 cup of coffee per day for an entire year for just $35.00. This is a perfect opportunity to put the leftover $1,057 into a retirement account!
Bringing your own lunch to work is also a huge money saver. The only way I can get myself to take my lunch to work is to pack it up the night before. I am a zombie in the morning and can barely manage to get myself dressed and out the door so planning ahead is crucial. Even if you’re only able to do this a couple times a week as you start, you’ll quickly see that saving $8.00 to $10.00 dollars a day is well worth the effort!
Do not save what is left after SPENDING but spend what is left after SAVING. – Warren Buffet
The common theme in most of these methods is planning. Do yourself a solid and start small. As you add more of these to your routine, it will become easier and easier to save money. Some ways are easier than others, but if you want to buy yourself a little something extra or you are saving for a wedding like Archie and I, the extra work is definitely worth it. I hope you found these tips helpful, and please feel free to let us know ways that you save your money here and there. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter & Facebook!