From an upperclassman looking back at her freshman year at SCAD comes Fresh Advice, the run down on all of the SCAD programs, operations and secret tricks you need to know to make a smooth transition to SCAD life.
Imagine this: you’re in a checkout line or about to pay the bill at a restaurant and you log into your bank account app “just to be sure” you have enough money. The app loads and opens to your account summary page.
You could have sworn that just yesterday you had at least $35 in your checking account. What could have happened?
You scroll down in your history and spot the problem: the power bill. You forgot you wrote a check for the power bill a week ago and your roommate must have deposited it.
We’ve all been there.
Money managing is no simple task. You’d think with apps and online banking things would get easier but having more options of how to spend, receive and send money makes managing it that much harder.
With monthly subscriptions like Netflix pulling from your account, phone bills that come at one time and the power bill that arrives at another, the inconsistency of a Savannah utility bill, school fees, direct deposits and other sources moving money in and out of your account, it can be difficult to keep track. BUT it’s not impossible.
Here are some quick tips to help you manage yo’ money.
1. Open separate accounts (and manage what goes where)
Depending on the type of cards (credit or debit) you use and the banks that you bank with, you should be able to set up more than one kind of account. And if you really can’t, there’s always managing your money old school style with the piggy bank or envelope method.
Separate your everyday spending money from your grocery money, bill money and/or rent money. Nothing is more terrifying that realizing that every time you’ve been swiping your debit card you’ve been digging into your rent or your bills because you accidentally forgot to transfer your rent to your savings account.
And if you aren’t good at saving, most online banking sites give you the option of automatically pulling a bit of cash from your checking and putting it in your savings automatically. But be sure to keep an eye on your checking account, to avoid overdrawing.
2. Set up a weekly allowance for yourself
Saving money was easiest when our income was consistent. When mom and dad gave you only $10 to spend at the movies, you spent the $10 and nothing more. With a steady cash flow, and steady expenses, it’s hard to remember to save up for emergencies or anticipate changes in gas prices or electric bills. But, if you set a strict budget for yourself and follow through, you will (hopefully) spend only what you planned to.
One way I budget is by withdrawing my allotted amount of cash from my account during the beginning of the week (or setting aside a certain amount of cash tips) and leaving my debit card at home. It’s especially important in situations where I know I’ll spend more than I should, like going out with friends or shopping (I’m a sucker for the scented candles from Marshalls and Talenti ice cream). If you bring cash, once the money runs out, you’re done, which makes you smarter with your purchases, too.
3. Keep track of your transactions
There’s no harm in being “extra sure.” Just as you check the door is locked before you leave the house and check to see if you actually put your ID in your back pocket like you told yourself you did. Better to be safe than sorry.
Checking daily also helps you gain an understanding of how quickly transactions actually go through. If you made a note to yourself that you wrote a check for the power bill for $35 and checked your bank account everyday to see when it was pulled from your account, then a) you would have never gone into the negatives and b) you wouldn’t have lost an added $35 dollars to overdraft fees (those evil bastards).
You’ll be able notice any weird, unauthorized activity in your account, too, and prevent your account from being hacked.
4. Find cheaper alternatives and discounts
Now I know that we all like to live a little lavishly and sip the fancy Kool-Aid every now and then. But let’s get real here, no matter how you like to pretend you’ve already landed that 6-digit big-kid job, you’re still a 20-something in college, probably surviving off ramen and microwavable leftovers. That means reaching for the off-brand cleaning products or finding a cheaper alternative to your favorite coffee creamer. Small sacrifices make a big difference.
Also, ask around about discounts, for students, for military, for everything. Better to ask and be turned down than to find out you could’ve been getting 15% off your favorite smoothie every week. True budgeting means going out of your way to find out how to be thrifty and frugal. It doesn’t mean you have to be penny-pinching, just smart about where and how you spend your money, like asking yourself if you really need Windex window cleaner or your could just go for the off-brand Kroger one.
5. If you don’t already have one, get you a job
My reaction when someone tells me they don’t have a job.
I mean it. A great way–actually no, THE BEST way to learn how to manage money is to manage your own income. I stopped online shopping as heavily as I did in freshman year (I’m talking two to three new items EVERY WEEK) when I got a job. Seeing that I could have real, hard-earned money in my account changed the game. I didn’t spend it as frivolously. Especially when I began working as a server. Every two dollars I spent was grabbing lemons four times for a table that thought I didn’t cut it quite right or cleaning up a spill that a grown man made and laughed about. When you know the sweat, blood and tears that went behind that money you don’t spend it quite as easily (or foolishly). So get you a job.
And that, is how you manage yo’ money. At least, it’s a start.
For more SCAD and Savannah based suggestions on how to save your cash, check out “Stretch canvases and dollars.”