Panda Hat: $7 for Chipotle, $0 for Groceries

Out of my last two paychecks, I have only retained 10 percent of that money, and I still need to fill my car up with gas and buy groceries. I currently have about four cups of oatmeal, one cheese stick, and a jar of extra crunchy peanut butter. My bank account has enough money where I will be able to do these things, but I want to be able to start moving my account balance into an upward slope, not a plateau relying on tax returns and holiday relative bequeaths to add to the reserve.

TEIA | Flickr

TEIA | Flickr

After looking through the 64 digital “Live Like a Student” signs archived online, I haven’t learned anything new—just some reminders about financial safety and a tip to not go to Mexico if the money’s not there. Even the other University of Minnesota online tools under OneStop’s “money management” section offer general advice like give homemade gifts, prioritize groceries, and find free or inexpensive entertainment on the weekends.

As unsurprising and obvious I found those tips to be, they did target the three areas that my money leaks out of me like crazy.

The now multi-billionaire CEO Elon Musk lived on a monthly $30 food budget. I should at least be able to give myself enough nutrition for around $50 per month with money left over for small gifts, going out with friends, and for savings.

Student finances are pretty crappy. Some people have worse loads than others, and I’m definitely one of the luckier ones. Loans, rent, and things akin definitely make things more complicated. However, for pocket change, sometimes it’s just about the paperwork.

Write down when to go to the grocery store to avoid spending all your money on bags of chips half-filled with air and expensive restaurant food. Remember that your friends will understand if you don’t get them the perfect gift. Keep a running tab about how much money you’re spending on social gatherings. Those movies, midnight McDonald’s runs, and shows all add up.
Being aware of how much you’re spending on a biweekly basis (or whenever your paycheck hits) can help you figure out if you have that $20 to go out for the night. Plus, if you save it, then maybe the next week you can give yourself an extra treat.