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Plugging Spending Leaks

Do you ever feel like your money seems to leak out of your pockets and right down the drain? Perhaps you start out the week on a Sunday with $40 in your wallet, and by Wednesday afternoon you realize it’s gone—and you have nothing to show for it. Where does it go?

Watch Yourself Spend

Keeping track of your spending activities throughout the day can help you be more mindful of where your money is going. You can use a small notebook, save notes in your cellphone, or enter receipts into an Excel spreadsheet at the end of the day. This will help you pinpoint where those small expenditures are going and how they add up. If you mark down small purchases as you make them, you will cease to feel like they are something that magically “happens” to you and you will reveal those impulse buys for what they really are: spending leaks.

Dealing With Spending Leaks

Spending leaks prevent you from sticking to a budget and saving. Use the tips below to help plug them:

  1. Leave your credit card at home.
  2. Seek out free concerts, festivals, exhibits, and plays on campus and in the city you live.
  3. Use Hulu or Netflix to catch up on your favorite shows and movies instead of cable and the expensive movie theater.
  4. Use your bike instead of your car two or three days a week.
  5. Pack snacks at home and put them in your backpack so you can avoid vending machines.
  6. Carry a refillable water bottle instead of purchasing soft drinks or coffee drinks.
  7. Use your student meal plan.
  8. Limit the number of movies, ringtones, etc., that you download.
  9. Carpool with friends to campus or to go out on the weekends.
  10. Plan a weekly menu and allow for leftovers so that you can freeze what you don’t need for another night.
  11. Meet friends for lunch instead of dinner. Lunch menus are typically less expensive and you can save on not buying drinks.
  12. Go out less, and on nights you do want to go out, seek out deals at local restaurants and bars for happy hour and "free cover."
  13. Borrow clothes from friends instead of buying new.
  14. Go in on group gifts for friends’ birthdays and graduations.
  15. Open the windows, or put on a sweater, instead of turning on the air or heat.

Now that you have identified some spending leaks and have a plan to address them, create a budget. Identify how much you truly need to get by each week and devote the rest of your money to other areas of your budget like bills and savings.

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