Moving to a city for college was super exciting and still is, but budgeting is very, very important. There’s so much to do and see, and it’s quite easy to say yes to everything and then realize you have no funds to pay for the lifestyle you desperately want. It is very hard to keep your money (if any) where it needs to be: away. So, here’s how to budget in a city where temptations are lurking around every corner.
1. Limit yourself to ONE special something per week
When I say this, I unfortunately don’t mean a luxurious getaway or super fancy skyscraper dinner. I’m talking about Taco Tuesday at Flaco’s or a cute shirt you just have to have. And sometimes I don’t even allow myself a weekly treat because I know the feeling of having $$$ in savings feels a lot better (most of the time). It may not be fun to limit yourself but trust me, it’s worth it.
2. Stick to the list
Grocery shopping and/or shopping in general. Danger danger. My key tip for this is to seriously stick to the list. There’s always going to be something calling your name on the shelf, but if it’s not on the list, you most likely don’t need, need it. It comes down to separating the needs and wants and realizing that when you’re 20 something, basically broke, living downtown without a car, and having to carry all that heavy stuff back to your apartment…the lighter the load, the happier you’ll be (the cheaper the load, too). Temptations are very real. Especially when you grocery shop at Target and there’s a whole other section besides groceries. Stick to the list.
3. Hide and don’t seek
Another trick that comes in very handy is of course saving. But a “fun” way to save is to take any extra cash you have in your wallet and put it somewhere safe that’s not in the bag you take everywhere. Maybe a drawer, a closet, an old box…something that’s put away and out of sight so you’re not constantly reminded of the treasure it holds. Tuck away that extra cash and make a pact with yourself to not seek it unless you absolutely have to. Trust me, it’ll be worth it when it starts adding up. If you’re like me, you may even forget about it and only remember you have some hidden away when writing a blog post on how to budget. So remember: hide but do not seek!
Lastly, given that I’m still in college and haven’t landed the dream job yet, I’m still very much learning how to manage my money. Working is my best advice. Work, save, repeat. But also treat yourself because you deserve it!
It’s all about finding that balance and enjoying yourself without breaking the bank. It is possible even when living downtown Chicago. There’s lots to do that doesn’t involve spending and while there are plenty of temptations, it is more than possible to have fun, experience new things, explore and have some extra cash (hidden, of course).
Photo Credit: By Brittani Schiller