Eating out can be more than just a dream. Image from Pexels.

Eating out can be more than just a dream. Image from Pexels.

With the weight of tuition constantly lingering in the back of your mind, there’s no question why college students want to save money. However, as you start to pinch pennies, it is vital to note that there is a difference between being smart with your money and becoming Scrooge.

More often than not, if you are out with friends, you are eating. No matter how long it takes to decide on a place in the group chat, going out for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, or just even a midnight snack ends of being the final destination. However, food doesn’t come cheap. Even the cost of an ice cream cone adds up if you eat one every night. So should you stop eating out with friends completely? No, of course not. You can’t eat dining hall food forever, and more importantly, you would be depriving yourself of social interaction, and great networking opportunities. When you are out buying an ice cream cone with friends, you not only get a delicious treat, you also receive quality time with people you care about. Does this mean that you should go out to that five star restaurant? Maybe. It depends entirely on you. If you think celebrating your friend’s birthday is worth the cash then by all means go for it. However, if eating that filet mignon means an entire week of regret, then perhaps have a private celebration with your friend on a different day.

If your friends still persist on hitting up restaurants every week, try and gently push them towards a less expensive route. Don’t be afraid to suggest exploring a museum with free admission or visiting a local park, because if your friends are college students, chances are that they will be looking to save money as well.

Yet the difference between being cheap and being thrifty isn’t something that only affects how you interact with others, but how you indulge yourself. Despite what your grandmother may have told you, you do not need to always stay in the sales aisle to get a good bargain. For example, if you constantly buy your boots from Forever 21, you may realize that you have to repurchase a new pair every year. Yet if you invest in a more expensive pair from a company that is renowned for good quality (remember that sometimes brand name doesn’t mean quality), those shoes may hold up for many years at a time. In the end, the amount you spend on those numerous pairs of cheap boots may be pricier than splurging on one nice pair. So while you shouldn’t max out your credit card, don’t be afraid to treat yourself when necessary (remember that necessary items are ones that you use often and where quality is a key factor, and no, that cat pencil case doesn’t count).

While treating yourself is nice and all, how do you know when to do it? What kind of spending guideline suits you the best? To know this, try to keep track of your spending, no matter if it’s a bag of pretzels or a cup of coffee, and calculate how much money you have left over. When this is all said and done, you have yourself a budget! It’s up to you how much you save for your future and how much you save to spend later (such as if you know your mother’s birthday is coming up), but keeping track of your spending on a regular basis will never do you wrong. After all, you are given receipts for a reason, and they serve more use than just taking up space in your purse.

Remember, while you want to be nice to your wallet, you also want to be nice to yourself. So if you find yourself washing and reusing plastic cutlery, perhaps it’s time to evaluate your relationship with money. If Scrooge can get back into the Christmas spirit after all those years, then even you can go out to that new restaurant down the street.

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