My living costs in school were extremely low in school. This is how I cut down my costs.
(1) Rent a room (not apartment) as close to the school as possible. With that room, you get free Internet, free water, free electricity. This is a huge savings vs an apartment.
(2) I lived near the school, so I didn’t waste any money in gas and didn’t try to leave school quickly to avoid traffic. I could stay as long as I wanted with no worry and get more practice in.
(3) I had prepaid minutes on my phone. No internet. No smartphone. So my cell bill came to $15 a month. I had unlimited text and was only charged the days I used my phone, $2 each of those days. Because I never used my phone for calls (unless an emergency), I got by with just a $10 bill. I Skyped my family if I needed to get in touch with them. If you are not on your parents’ plan and not locked in a contract, consider seriously paring this down. More technology is a distraction.
(4) Cook at home. Make Crock-Pot meals. Visit my meal section. Wash and dry green onion and celery and put them in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel. This will make them last a month.
Prep vegetables ahead of time (carrot and celery sticks).
Size down your portions! Do not cook a bunch of muffins or one big stew if you cannot eat all of it, even in leftovers. Size it down. Only make as many pancakes as you can eat or want to freeze. Only make as many muffins for two days.
Also, eat breakfast for dinner sometimes. Breakfast is the cheapest meal. Beef up cheap things like Saimin with my Saimin Embellished recipe.
Do not get overambitious!! Do not try to make your own soups from scratch or bread from scratch. You will become overwhelmed and will start eating out, losing more money. Be realistic. Time and energy is everything. Conserve it.
Sandwiches and soup are the best lunch. Get a Progresso beef stew soup ($2) and have it with crackers and chicken salad (with celery). Or have it with a grilled cheese sandiwch. Or a tuna sandwich. Or peanut butter and jelly. Or BLT. Switch up the soup! Vegetable soup, Clam Chowder, Pot Pie soup, Minestrone – these are all great from Progresso.
(5) Do not buy new makeup, clothes, and other unnecessary products during this time (unless it’s absolutely necessary). In fact, I RARELY wore makeup in school. There is just no need. One line on the eye, one swipe on the lips, that is good enough. Money is more impressive than makeup, so focus on your career.
Same with clothes, jewelry, skincare – stay out of malls and away from magazines. There will be plenty of time to shop and experiment after college. It is counterproductive to do it in college.
If you don’t use organic shampoo/conditioner like me, use a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner. Saves time and money. Just try to streamline your life and your space as much as possible. No distractions.
(6) If your parents/friends ask what you want for Christmas, a $20 spa giftcard (for a massage or eyebrows) or $20 Amazon giftcard (for equipment) is best. Use your birthdays and holidays to get the things you can no longer afford that matter to you. Maybe a pedicure or a new outfit for work. Whatever you truly miss or need.
(7) This is an obvious one, but needs mentioning. Live with your parents if at all possible. This will save on day care (if you have kids) and rent.
(8) Buy professional software on sales (Black Friday, namely). You can save up to 2 grand.
Buy machine used/refurbished.
Buy your Amazon equipment during December if at all possible, so you can get 5% on either Chase or Discover (in cashback money).
Also, ALWAYS buy your machine and professional software on a card that gives you at least 2% cashback. These would be either Fidelity’s credit card or CitiBank’s. If you spend 5 grand on something, you’re getting 100 free dollars to spend on some other equipment you need! It astounds me more people do not take advantage of cashback. If you spend 17K in the first two years (which is highly likely if you’re successful), you can get a ton in tax return (make sure you’re writing it all off) and cashback! That’s double cashback! I have two separate posts on the best cashback credit cards and the things you can write off.
In school, it’s cashback is most important, NOT travel points. You have no time/energy/money to be traveling. Limiting travel is a huge savings in and of itself, especially when it comes to your most valuable commodity: energy.