Personal finance

How Keeping My College Mentality Saves on Bills

Examining Sheet of US CurrencyI did my time in college and, like many of my peers, there were times when I had to scrape by and live a bit uncomfortable to get by (i.e. ramen diet, anyone?). Those years trying to pay for part of the apartment, food, and classes really takes a toll especially when you look at your bank account and it's in the single digits.

But something clicked during that time. Something that has helped shaped the way I live, now. It taught me the joy of frugality. It helped me understand the importance of money management. It (sort of) forced me to seek the alternatives.

Nowadays, things are looking great. I'm living below my means while holding a great job. Because of this I can enjoy more of my time, since I'm not constantly stressed how bills will get paid.

I want to share some of that college mentality that saves on the bills along with suggestions on ways you can adopt this mind set, too:

1. Coupons aren't just for grandma

People would laugh when I pulled out a coupon but really … why should they care? I'm the one saving money, here.

I'm not a crazy coupon person, but I do take the time to at least look if one's available.

I'll use them on food (gotta love those BOGO deals), tickets to a theme park, and especially when I got my new apartment setup because it’s not like there are a lack of AT&T discounts out there. It's so easy to use coupons, it makes you wonder how people can be so lazy at times, especially when you can even get them on your phone and have them scanned.

Next time you buy anything (online or offline) I'd suggest at least taking a few minutes to see if there are coupons because it all adds up.

2. Calculate the cost of entertainment

Here's a real quick one that will save thousands:

· The item you want divided by your hourly pay

For example: $60 video game while earning $6 an hour equals a need for 10 hours of work.

Ask yourself if it's worth that amount of time.

Then take a look at the potential cost per entertainment.

For example: $20 for a 2 hour movie is $10 an hour whereas that $60 video game giving you 100 hours of game play equals $0.60 worth of entertainment per hour.

Breaking it down by the numbers will help you avoid activities that don't really equal to their costs - it's that simple, really.

3. Patience is the magic word

People seem to have trouble remaining patient. Maybe it's because they're so wired to the Web and expect everything in an instant. However, it's your ability to wait is what will help you save thousands of dollars each year.

For example, I saved upwards of $800 on a plane ticket because I kept track of pricing trends and found the right time to travel.

My suggestion is that you take a look at whatever you want and wait it out. Write it down, pin it to the wall, and wait a week (or longer, if you can). Then come back and see if you still want it. Chances are you've moved on which means you're no longer spending that money.

4. It's about shaking hands

The paper you get at the end of your college term doesn't matter nearly as much as the people you met.

Why? Because it's your connections with people (your network) is what will help you get the foot in the door in business. This especially rings true in other aspects of your day-to-day life.

I learned this when it came time for references and work experience. I reached out to my friends to get a start at work which helped me build the foundation of my career.

This is true for all areas of skill-based jobs and technical expertise. If you're friends with someone with the skills, they're bound to give you a helping hand. Show your appreciation and give them something in return and you can skimp out on spending money and go to a barter/trade system instead.

If you have any questions, please ask below!