For the majority of students, the hardest part of creating and sticking to a budget is having the discipline to continue monitoring it. Part of the reason some shy away from sticking to their budget, is they have a hard time trimming down their current expenses. Today, we are going to explore some of the unique options that are out there to both save money and possibly make a little extra on the side.
Before we start, I would like to review the steps of the budgeting process. First, you need to understand how and where you are spending your money. To do that, you must first estimate what you think you are spending on a monthly basis. This will set the bar to see whether you are aware of your spending habits. Next, you will need to keep track of your actual spending for at least a month. You can do this by saving receipts, journaling purchases, or any other way that works for you. This is a very important step because once you know what you are actually spending; you will be able to see the gaps in what you estimated, compared to what you are currently spending. By doing the first two steps, you are now aware of where your money is going and what changes you can make.
This is where we are at today. When you look for places in your budget to trim expenses, and therefore save money, it can seem a little overwhelming. Here are some options that are available on your smart device to help you save money without necessarily changing your money behaviors entirely.
If you are one of many who have troubles sticking to your shopping budget, Shopkick is a great app for you. This app allows you to receive free gift cards for the shopping you already do. You can browse products and discover great deals at stores like Target, Starbucks, Best Buy, and more. When you shop, you can earn free points, called “kicks,” and redeem them for gift cards of your choice. If you value your shopping, this is an app that can be of great value to you. Available for: iOS and Android
With this app, you can browse thousands of coupons and deals to hundreds of popular retail stores and restaurants. You can save the coupons that you want for easy access and reminders of expiration dates. Why would you pay full price when you can take advantage of discounts, sales and promotions? RetailMeNot brings all of those deals into one place! Available for: iOS and Android
This app has a little bit of everything! It offers deals on everything from restaurants to retailers, to hotels along with many other entertainment venues. You can search by location and find many deals on the best stuff to eat, see and do near you. In my opinion, Groupon may have the most options for you to save money, while enjoying life and remaining loyal to your budget. Available for: iOS, Android, and Windows
Eating Out Locally:
- Pocket Points
Recently brought to Kansas State University, Pocket Points offers many deals and free items by simply staying off of your smart phone. This is practically free money! This app gives students rewards for not using their phone during class or while on campus. All you have to do is open to application, lock your phone, and watch your points build up. You can then use these points to receive discounts, deals, and free items at restaurants, and stores in Manhattan. Pocket Points is a GREAT way to trim down your monthly expenses. Give it a shot, it is definitely worth staying off your phone! And hey, maybe you’ll meet someone new. Available for: iOS and Android
Joining Pocket Points on Kansas State’s campus, the Tapingo application is another great option for you. This app lets you order on the go and pick it up when it is ready. No need to stand in line! It will definitely add convenience and time back into your schedule. To make it even better, periodically they will offer promotions to help you save money at these campus restaurants. Available for: iOS and Android
EatStreet is another great option for you when looking for food to order. Use your location to find great deals and discounts on the top local restaurants. Find what you are craving and experience the convenience of ordering from your phone. Make sure to check back weekly for new deals! Available for: iOS and Android
Earn Some Extra Income
The JoyRun application is delivery for friends, by friends. It is a delivery service made up by people in your community. If you are stuck at home, request a run from one of your favorite places and a JoyRunner can bring you the food. By creating an account on the app, you can also be the JoyRunner! Going out to eat? Start a run, set your delivery fee and see if anyone wants anything picked up. This is a very unique app that could allow you to make some extra cash without having to do a whole lot. Available for: iOS and Android
Looking for part-time job? Sign up to be an Uber driver and work only when you want to! After you meet Uber’s requirements, you can become a registered Uber driver and start earning money by driving clients to their destination. So if you need extra income to keep your budget from going in the “red,” sign up today! Available for: iOS and Android
Need Help Budgeting?
Is it hard finding a budget that works for you? Try Mint! This personal finance application will allow you to track your budget, bills and money. You can get started on your computer or phone. This app brings together your bank accounts, credit cards, bills and investments so you know exactly where you stand. By syncing your accounts, your monthly expenses will automatically be transferred to your Mint account, making budgeting very simple. Available for: iOS, Android, PC
Do You Need Some Further Assistance?
Are you taking advantage of these great opportunities and still having a hard time creating and sticking to your budget? If so, schedule an appointment with Powercat Financial and a Peer Counselor would be happy to help you get on the right track!
Nolan Keim – Peer Counselor II