Summertime! The season of sunshine, splashing around and working… and working and working and working. At least, that’s how it goes for many modern college students like yourself. You work hard so you can play hard—but have you considered saving hard? Here are four easy ways to begin saving so you can lead a life of leisure in the future when you’re not as young and free as you are now.
Start a “fun fund.”
It’s the money we don’t mind spending, but when does having fun turn into having too much fun? Perhaps when you can’t afford the things you need because you keep buying the things you want?
Whatever you do for fun, make sure you can still afford your necessary expenses afterward by setting aside money every month specifically for “fun.” Traditionally, a “fun fund” looked like a mason jar filled with spare change for a dream (vacation, car, etc.). Now, creating your “fun fund” can be as simple as leaving a small amount of every paycheck in your checking account and moving the rest to savings.
The key to making this tactic work is only moving money into your checking account for necessary purchases. If you don’t have enough in your checking account to participate in “fun” at any point, sit that one out. The next time around you’ll have enough, and you’ll avoid any buyer’s remorse.
Watch your credit card spending.
It can be tempting to charge big, scary purchases to your credit card. The “eh, I’ll deal with that later” mindset relieves stress in the short-term, but know that, eventually, “later” will arrive, and when it does, you want to be ready. Saving your receipts and keeping track of your credit card purchases means you never have to dread getting that itemized bill, as you already know what it’s going to say.
Also, by tracking and regularly paying off your credit card bill, you build your credit score, which will be important when making large, bigger and scarier purchases down the line.
Invest, invest, invest!
According to an article by senior financial contributor at Forbes Magazine, Morgan Simon, keeping all of your hard-earned money in the bank is a problem because “when interest rates— what the bank pays you in exchange for making a deposit— are lower than inflation—the rate at which money loses value—that means your money is actually worth LESS in the future than it is now.”
What does this mean? Simon gives the example that $100 in the bank can only buy you $98 worth of stuff out in the world. Essentially, when inflation is higher than interest rates, which it is right now, keeping your money in the bank devalues it.
To fight this, you can invest part of your savings. Instead of dropping all your money into a savings account, do some market research and choose two or three companies, funds or indexes you want to invest in, then do it!
Advice: start small. Invest a little here and there, building your confidence until you’re a bonafide stock market trader ready to make bigger deals. Get the cigars and offshore accounts ready! (For legal reasons, this is a joke.)
Still not convinced? Check out a previous post on investing for beginners.
Check out Syracuse University’s financial resources.
Investing, building a credit score, passing up fun times to save money—none of this is easy. Not to worry, however, as Syracuse University has resources to help you develop your money skills, including Wellness Leadership Institute workshops and the different services wintin the Office of Financial Literacy.
The Wellness Leadership Institute (WLI) at the Barnes Center at The Arch offers informational workshops, addressing each of the eight Dimensions of Wellness, including financial. WLI’s financial workshops cover topics like “Tax Sessions,” “How to Talk About Money,” “Game of Life and Credit Crash Course,” and “Creating Budget-Friendly Meals.” You can register for these workshops on the Wellness Portal, offered during the academic year and over summer/winter breaks. To learn more about WLI financial workshops check out the Barnes Center at The Arch website.
The Office of Financial Literacy is another resource on campus to help you manage your money. In addition to their Financial Foundations workshops available for private scheduling or as WLI workshops, the office also offers personal finance coaching sessions on how to save money, budget properly and prepare you for life beyond college. To learn more about Smart Money workshops or financial coaching sessions, check out the Office of Financial Literacy website, email the office at email@example.com or call 315.443.5909.
Don’t get bogged down by all these recommendations. Work hard and earn as much as you can over the summer, but don’t forget to have fun and experience life. Have a great summer and happy saving!
Looking for more tips? Check out our guide for being financially savvy in college.
Written by Cecelia Kersten ’23, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications