If you’re anything like me, you check your bank account before any major purchase … and by “major,” I mean anything over $10. (Am I right, ladies?)When I entered college in 2012, it was the first time in my life that navigating my finances became a very REAL thing. My parents helped me purchase essentials, but I quickly got an on-campus job to fund my extra expenses.
With that being said, here are four tips and tricks I learned along the way:
- Don’t be afraid of second-hand clothes.
You’ll be amazed at the cute clothes you can purchase at your local thrift stores and consignment shops. Some people call me the thrift queen (okay, maybe I’m the only one who calls myself that, but I promise it will catch on), because I am committed to thrift shopping. Salvation Army and Goodwill are great thrift-stores to shop at. It takes a little extra time to sift through the racks of outdated clothes in order to find a treasure in the midst, but you will save SO MUCH MONEY. Every single Wednesday, Salvation Army offers a 50% off discount on their already-affordable prices. I allow myself to spend $10-20 a week on clothes. This week, I only spent $5.67, and I walked out with THREE clothing items: a black Forever 21 turtle-neck with studded shoulders, a pink top with blue embroidery, and a light green shift dress.Another great store is Plato’s Closet, a store that buys and sells gently-used NAME BRAND clothes. What I like about Plato’s is that I can bring a bag full of clothes I no longer want, and they pay me cash ON THE SPOT, or I can use the money as credit towards my next purchase.
- Don’t buy into the fads.A fad is something that is cool one day and outdated the next. No matter what stage of life you’re in, the temptation is to ALWAYS have the coolest item on the market, however, you will exhaust your time, energy, and finances if you try to keep up. Instead of buying into every new trend as soon as it comes out, just WAIT. “Good things come to those who wait!” It may be a cliché, but I promise it works. A couple things could potentially happen when you wait. By not making impulse and compromising purchases, you give yourself time to really think about whether or not you want the product. In addition, if you really do want it, chances are that the PRICE WENT DOWN because the item is no longer in demand. Another benefit is that you rule out the probability of having buyer’s-remorse (regretting your purchase). Lastly, if you decide that you really do want to invest, you will truly appreciate and value your item all the more.
- Don’t underestimate coupons, sales, and price comparisons.When it comes to making purchases -- whether it’s groceries, novelty items, events, textbooks, or even clothes – always look for coupons. Upon entering my local grocery store, I go straight to the coupon rack, sort through the pages and clip coupons I know I can use. The other day, for example, I saved $17 on my groceries.
Sales happen at the shift of seasons, around any major holiday, and really whenever a company decides they want to have one. My favorite Plato’s Closet sale happens TWICE a year (once in the summer and once during the shift from winter to spring) and is called a “Grab Bag Sale.” For $20, you can fill a bag with as much items that you can stuff inside. At this past sale, I scored a Kate Spade handbag, a Victoria’s Secret totebag, a Dooney & Bourke cross body bag, and a couple of clothing items! These sales happen so that they can clear out their inventory or overstock of items they know will not sell in their off-season.
At the beginning of each semester, purchasing textbooks becomes a HUGE expense. A semester’s-worth of books could easily cost a COUPLE HUNDRED DOLLARS in the school bookstore. This is an example of when price comparisons come in handy. I pull up websites side-by-side such as Amazon, Chegg, and eBay’s “Half”, and look up all of my textbooks. Then, I compare which sites are the most cost effective (with shipping) per book. What would have been $300 in the school bookstore, turned in to about $120 online.
- Don’t forget to tithe.
Seriously, tithing is SO IMPORTANT. You reap what you sew. To “tithe” means to give back 10% of your income to GOD. In other words, giving your money to your local home church. It’s a principle that is so important to develop at a young age, because your stewardship skills will carry on with you into adulthood.
I know you may be living off a small weekly allowance or a job that pays minimum wage, but think about it: God gave you parents who provide money OR even the job that funds your paycheck. So, why not give Him 10%? That’s a small price to pay.
Recently, I was given a couple of public speaking ministry opportunities that PAID, and I wrestled with the idea of tithing it. I thought to myself: I am already a faithful giver with my NORMAL paycheck. This is JUST EXTRA money I can enjoy. Soon after, God convicted me, because if it wasn’t for HIM, I wouldn’t have been given those opportunities to earn some extra income in the first place. Looking back on college, I can’t always say I made the most wise financial decisions (shout out to the two tattoos I got during mid-terms week sophomore year that wiped my bank account clean), but luckily, junior and senior year brought on the wisdom and experience required in order to redeem my once reckless-spending tendencies.
Meet Alexis! We're majorrrrr Alexis fans here at DoD! Alexis is known for her thrifty fashion sense, her drive to see the Kingdom of God thrive, and her devoted heart for God. She is the founder of letsbefrank.co, "a community of people committed to bringing purpose to our pain." This website was inspired by the heartbreaking loss of Alexis' dad Frank, due to a short battle with brain cancer in August 2015. Be sure to check it out!