How to Save Money When You Have No Self-Control (and no money)

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Search for budgeting and money-saving tips and you’ll find thousands upon thousands of articles. The problem is, these tips are designed for people who actually have money to begin with. As a college student, I jump to pick up pennies, I live off of convenience meals, and my frontal lobe isn’t developed enough to avoid the Starbucks drive-through. It’s…a challenge. So here is some legit advice from a real starving student.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not a professional (obviously) please don’t sue me.

1. Have a credit card, hide the credit card

Developing a credit history is important for your financial future. It can help you to get approved for apartments and loans, and it will make your interest rate lower on future borrowed money. I chose to get a credit card and I saw my credit score go up as I spent small amounts of money and immediately paid it off. But things can get a little out of hand sometimes. Carrying a large balance on your credit card will reverse all the positives and cost you greatly in interest.

When my credit card spending is too high I hide my card. It’s simple, yet effective. Out of sight, out of mind. If things are really bad, freeze your card. I mean that literally. Put that sucker in a cup of water and stick it in the freezer. That way you can’t use it unless you REALLY need to! I did this when I had a large balance on my card, and since I literally had no way of using it, I paid it off in no time!

2. Cash and Coins

On January 1st, 2019 I decided that every $1 bill and bit of change that came into my possession would go into a jar, for a whole year. At the end of the year, I took it all to the bank and I had saved $400. That one weird method worked super well for me, I would get cashback with my groceries, spend it on random purchases and end up saving a couple of dollars each time. Since almost all purchases are online or with a card nowadays, it was super easy to separate my money into spending vs saving.

3. Choose the lesser evil

No matter the amount of common sense you normally possess, it all goes out the window when you’re tired and hungry. Let’s be realistic. You aren’t cooking. In those moments of weakness, take a breath and choose the lesser evil. Going for fast food? Choose from the value menu. 11 pm and no dinner? Go buy a freezer meal or a deli item from the grocery store. On-campus with no lunch? Search your school’s event calendar for free food! Of course cooking at home will always be cheaper, but a little compromise can save you some money when you’re too tired to care. Above all, AVOID ordering delivery from Doordash, Uber eats, etc. if you can drive, go pick that food up yourself and save $10!

Remember, we’re gonna get a degree and make more money someday…someday.

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Written by Lucie Sullivan on Mar 15, 2021