Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How to Feel Rich on a Budget

Hello, beautiful! Today I'm bringing back my Adulting 101 series to talk about ways you can save money without feeling deprived - in other words, how you can still "feel rich" while sticking to a broke college girl's budget.

If you saw my first Adulting 101 post, How to Save Money and Build Credit in College, this topic might feel a bit familiar to you. Technically, I didn't mean for Adulting 101 to become all about saving, budgeting and spending money; however, learning to manage money, for me, has been the hardest (though not the only hard) part of growing up and becoming an adult. So, if you feel the way I do, then welcome, because we're going to learn a thing or two about money throughout the rest of this series!

On that note, as I mentioned previously, today's post is all about "feeling rich" while living the poor college life. These tips will help you feel less deprived while still cinching your wallet.

I know I personally struggle with saving money because I don't like to give up the things I love (i.e. Starbucks and shopping at T.J. Maxx), so these tips are just as much for me as they are for you. I hope this advice will help us both save money and live large :)

1. Shop bargain sites

Many bloggers and financial advisors say you should never pay full price for anything. Shopping sites that offer discounted prices for high-quality items is one of my favorite ways to save money. A few of my favorite places to shop for discounted products include:

  • TJ Maxx and Marshall's. Many of us already love these stores; however, did you know shopping at TJ Maxx and Marshall's can save you TONS of money on some of your favorite brands? Lilly Pulitzer, American Eagle and Philosophy are just a few of my favorite brands that can be found at TJ Maxx!
  • Thrive Market. If you eat a specialty diet or love healthy, natural, organic food, then Thrive Market should be on your radar. It's a site where you can order all-natural pantry staples and snacks for less than the original price. As a vegan, Enjoy Life, Earth Balance and Beanitos are some of my favorite brands available at Thrive Market.
  • Amazon. Believe it or not, shopping for some of your favorite products on Amazon can save you TONS of money in the long-run. That's why Amazon Prime is always my one-stop shop for things like home goods, hair and skincare products and books. 

2. Prep meals in bulk

Though buying bulk pantry staples like brown rice, olive oil and dried beans might set you out $10 now, it can actually save you money in the long run when you think about how much you pay for these items per pound. Some of my favorite cheap, easy meals to prep with affordable pantry staples include:

  • Rice and beans. This college kid staple is not only cheap, but also vegan and nutritious! I especially love to add a little bit of lettuce and guacamole to elevate this meal from boring old rice and beans to a banging burrito bowl.
  • Overnight oats. Plain old oatmeal is already inexpensive, delicious and healthy. However, when refrigerated overnight with a little bit of soymilk, peanut butter and sliced banana, this cheap and tasty treat becomes all the more delicious!
  • Buddha bowls. Buddha bowls are my FAVORITE food trend of 2017 because they're both cheap and versatile to make. Buy your rice or quinoa in bulk, then top with whatever veggies are leftover in your fridge. My favorite toppings are spinach, arugula, sweet potatoes and chickpeas.

3. Take surveys for money

Need some extra cash to help you live a little bit larger? One thing I love to do while I'm watching Netflix or YouTube videos is split my screen and fill out surveys on a rewards website like Opinion Outpost. These sites will incentivize you to give your opinion with fun freebies like Amazon gift cards and $10.00 PayPal rewards. So, if you need a little bit of spending money in your pocket, survey sites like these are a great way to make that extra dough count! 

4. Clip coupons

In the 21st century, your grandma isn't the only one clipping coupons anymore. Websites and apps like RetailMeNot will collect all your favorite deals in one place for you to access anytime you need some quick savings. My personal favorite coupon clipping app is Target's Cartwheel app, where you can save on your favorite brands by shopping at Target (not to mention there's almost always savings on Target's store brand!).

5. Subscribe to savings

Some financial advisors say you should unsubscribe from as many stores' email lists as possible. I take the opposite approach: I subscribe to as many as possible to make sure I'm getting the best possible deals! I'm of the opinion that if you know you need to make an investment in the long run, whether it's in a new yoga mat or a stylish blazer for work, it's better to do it on impulse as part of a flash sale than to pay full price for it later. However, there IS a catch to my method: rather than letting these notifications pile up in my inbox to tempt me, I subscribe with my "junk mail" account and check for savings periodically.  This prevents me from overspending because I can instead check on my deals when I know I actually need to buy something. 

6. Listen to the Law of Attraction

More than anything, feeling "rich" is about your attitude, as opposed to how much money is in your bank account. If you've ever heard of the Law of Attraction, you know what I mean. According to this law, believing with all your heart that your life is already full of wealth and abundance, and reaffirming this to yourself out loud, can actually bring more money into your life! Want to test its powers for yourself? Then, repeat after me! I am already rich.

7. Take advantage of freebies

College campuses abound with opportunities to receive free products in exchange for feedback! TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEM. For example, my sorority recently had an event with bareMinerals where we got to test (and keep!) free full-size makeup and skincare products in exchange for posting on social media. It was the easiest and most fun way to get freebies ever! You might also consider joining a paid ambassador program on your campus (such as PINK campus reps) to receive free products (and pay!) in exchange for representing your favorite brands at events.

8. Join a savings challenge

Experts recommend saving at least $1,000 in an emergency fund, which can seem like a LOT of money to a college student or recent grad. The best way I've found to save $1,000 quickly? Start small. Savings challenges like this one on Pinterest start you off with saving just $1-$5 a week and gradually build you up to saving hundreds of dollars. It's a great way to get started establishing your savings without breaking the bank right off the bat!

9. Spend money now...

...to avoid spending MORE money later! In other words, just because I'm trying to save money doesn't mean I always buy the cheapest product. Some expensive purchases are actually an investment in my future. For example:

  • College tuition, student loans, sorority dues, etc. are an investment in my future. By paying these costs upfront now, I'm obviously costing me and my family a pretty penny - but as a result, I'll have a higher salary and be more marketable to employers later in life.
  • Eating vegan is an investment in my health. I've heard a lot of criticism that my eating style is expensive and unattainable, but in the long run, I feel I will save myself money on doctor's bills and health care by treating my body right and spending the extra dollar on organic tofu.
  • High-quality clothes are an investment against future purchases. I would rather spend $50 on a designer blouse I know will last me ten years than $10 on a Forever 21 shirt I know will rip the second time I wear it. 
  • Beauty, haircare and skincare are an investment in myself. Beauty, hair and skin aren't important to everyone, but since they are important to me, I know I will save myself money on treatments by taking proper care of myself now - for example, paying extra for a high-quality shampoo for color-treated hair means I won't have to spend another $150 on bayalage anytime soon.

10. Treat yo' self (for free!)

Finally, resist the urge to spend hundreds of dollars treating yourself "because you deserve it." Obviously, you do deserve it - but opt for free self-care strategies instead! Check out this list from the Radical Transformation Project to start...or simply mosey on down to the kitchen and have yourself a piece of chocolate or a cookie :) Because yes, you have earned it!

What's your all-time favorite tip for feeling rich while saving money? LMK in the comments below!

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