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Go On A Budget Diet

Graduating from school without a boat load of debt can be tough, but it is not impossible. Here are some of the tips and tricks I learned in school that helped me escape debt-free. There will be points of difficulty, and eventually the most dedicated saver throws up his arms, sighs, and sifts his credit card from his back pocket. That's okay; just be aware that habits like these, if relied upon too often, can strap you with a significant financial burden after you graduate. Observe your weaknesses, but focus on building your strengths.

Set Savings Goals

Goals are important in every area of your life from academics to weekly achievements: finances are no exception, especially in college. For most students, the four years they commit to college are several of the most financially stressful and demanding years of their lives. Money is tight in college, and that is why saving something is more important than ever. Your college years will be chock full of expenses that you didn't anticipate. Having even a few hundred dollars in the bank can ease your level of stress significantly, and allow you the flexibility of which you would not otherwise have the luxury. For myself, I created a three bucket rule that worked well.

  • Spending
    Money for food and other essentials. Most students are shocked by how quickly the cost of everyday items like paper towels and toothpaste add up. Don’t be caught off guard and factor such items into your spending budget.
  • Short-Term Saving
    This is an important stash to contribute to. This money can help you when you have an unexpected expense. Cars break down, microwaves burn out, and denim wears thin. This account can help foot the bill for such costs.
  • Long-Term Saving
    While it is important to have some type of long-term savings account, the first two should be your priority while you are in college. This account can help you when you begin paying off student loans, or support you while you are looking for a job after graduation. I suggest putting this money into a high-yield savings account. Most banks don't require a large deposit for an account that yield 4.5 to 5%, and the money can usually be withdrawn at no charge if necessary.

Stick With Your Plan

You've established a plan that works for you, stick to it even during the dry spells. A budget can only reward you if you adhere to it.

Reward Yourself

One of the best parts about saving money is the possibility of giving yourself unexpected and delightful rewards. If you have budgeted successfully, there should be at least a little bit of money that can be played with. My girlfriends and I decided that our extra cash would be allotted for post break-up presents. Every time a boy got left behind, we acquired a new piece of jewelry or article of clothing. Nothing like a little bling to lift the break-up blues!

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