Money-strapped students can
Dear Money Matters,
How can a 20-year-old college student who makes $10 an hour and
has a car payment save money?
The situation you're in -- let's call it "monetary simplicity,"
which sounds much better than "poverty" -- does have one
advantage. You don't have the burdens of credit card payments, a
mortgage and other trappings of financial maturity.
So you have few liabilities, and you have one important
asset: an attitude that will put you far ahead of most of your peers.
There isn't exactly a line of 20-year-olds stretching around the
block who are more interested in saving rather than spending.
And in fact, there's a lot you can do to start saving.
Here's a checklist of ideas that may help:
- First, lose the notion that an effective savings
program requires big bucks. One of the unfortunate money habits
many of us have is to think in grossly overblown proportions --
that the only way to amass significant sums of money is to set
aside huge amounts. Not so. I
savings calculator and
figured that saving a modest $50 a month at 5 percent interest
for five years produces more than $3,400. Not a bad piece of change
for the equivalent cost of a couple meals out.
- That, in turn, illustrates that big savings can
derive from relatively modest means. Examine your spending habits
and determine where you can cut back and by how much. You can
easily free up $50 just by eating at home or in the dorm a couple
of times more every month.
- Another potential drain on the money you have to
go around comes from our dear friend the ATM. Convenient they
may be, but these oft-insidious devices can be all too tempting
a source, enticing you into accessing and spending money you might
otherwise do without. Try to resist making too many ATM trips.
On top of that, be sure to record what you take out (something
that many of us repeatedly fail to do).
- Another thought comes from a well-worn financial
maxim: Pay yourself first. What this means is, rather than paying
all your bills first and hoping against hope that there will be
something left over, make savings your first step. Not only does
that push your savings up to the top of the priority list, it
gives you a clear view of what money remains. That can often provide
adequate discipline to spend wisely to ensure that you meet your
- Finally, if you lack the fortitude to stick with
a savings plan, consider putting things on autopilot. Arrange
with your bank to transfer automatically a set amount every month
into the savings vehicle of your choosing, such as a money
market account. That puts your savings plan on a systematic
footing that doesn't require that you physically cut a check every
-- Posted: May 20, 2002