By Manuela Domingos

It’s back to school season, and this means possibly spending more money on food. If you’re a student, you might know the endless struggle of trying to save money and not eating out during the school year. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine in which he admitted to spending close to $5,000 on food in one month alone. I was shocked at this revelation.

I’m definitely guilty of this as well. If I’m running late in the morning, chances are I will feel tempted to pick up something along the way instead of eating at home.

Here are some tips on how to spend your money wisely this semester.

Avoid Eating Out. If you know you can make something at home, then by all means, do it. Try to meal prep earlier in the week. I guarantee you that eating out really does add up. If you’re in a relationship, chances are, as a couple, one of your favorite past times is going out to eat at a restaurant. Eating out every once in a while won’t hurt, but know that if you’re practically spending money on food like every week, you’re racking up wasted money that could’ve otherwise been spent on other things.

Put Money Away for Savings. If you’re working, save. You may not initially have a set goal of how much money you would want to save while you’re working, but make the conscious decision to set money aside, however small that may be. If you need to put $20 in the bank that week, by all means, set aside $20 in the bank that week. Eventually, you can build your way up by adding more money in the bank. Try and set some money aside from every pay check. Don’t worry if it’s just 10 dollars, your bank account will thank you later.

"Recognize the habits, pinpoint the problems, and be mindful about how you spend your money."

Cancel Bad Habits. If you know that you’re tempted to spend money any time you’re out with friends, then perhaps you shouldn’t be going out as often. This might mean sacrificing that Friday night trip to the movies or that girls night out. I’m not saying don’t go out ever. Just recognize the habits, pinpoint the problems, and be mindful about how you spend your money. Yet, if you know you can’t resist enjoying a night out with friends, make a stop at the ATM before you head out. Set a limit on the amount of money you want to spend, get cash in that amount and leave your debit card at home.

Keep Track of Expenses. Often times we are shocked when we log into our account and see how much money we’ve spent. Keep track of all of your expenses. If this means tallying up all your receipts, then do so. It is also a good habit to check your account history for any potential fraud transactions.

Last But Not Least, Know You Can Do It! In about five months, I was able to save up my first $1,000 dollars for travel expenses. I could’ve saved up more if I didn’t have other things to take care of during that time. Have a goal in mind, then set out for that goal. It’s also helpful to have supportive people around you that help you reach your goals.

Keep up with Manuela on Instagram, @_manuelad!

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