By Joanne Lee ‘15 & Sherry Fung ’15
As a New Year’s resolution, you’ve made an oath. You stood your ground and pinky swore yourself not to spend another dime carelessly on something you absolutely did not need. It all went well until the next day when you saw those irresistible pair of shoes that just came out. Then the vow crumbled away as you scrambled ahead to make your purchase.
Keeping track of your budget is the key to saving money. People unconsciously overspend when they go shopping.
“You have to keep a weekly budget with the location of every penny you spend,” said Dr. Ernest Pysher, Assistant Principal of Arts and Music. “Do that for two weeks.”
Tracing your budget will allow you to get a decent baseline of your spending. From this, separate the money for leisure, from the money for necessities.
Those who have a job should save 25% of their paycheck, recommended Ms. Lorrie, Director and College Counselor. “Students should start saving money as early as they can but I think it’s important to put some money aside for enjoyment so you don’t deprive yourself,” said Ms. Lorrie.
Dr. Pysher has a different approach to students with jobs. “Earn more than you spend. Put the money away the minute you get your check,” he advised.
At the same time, try to incorporate smart spending into your budget by comparing weekly circulars, looking for discounts and coupons, and buying bulks over retail. Comparing prices from weekly circulars can earn you your desired product at an inexpensive cost. It will tell you which stores you can find the cheaper product.
“I sign up for card membership on Rite Aid and CVS to get discounts and coupons on things that people who don’t have membership don’t have,” said Beyhan Taylan ’15.
Acquiring low priced items can also come from using coupons found online or in free phone applications. A phone application that students use is Wrapp, where you can give someone free gifts or a paid gift card. Katherine Mei ’15 said she started using Wrapp two years ago and has been using the application every week, saving approximately $200 on clothes and accessories.
Another way of spending wisely is purchasing bulk over retail.
Almas Shafiq ’14 said, “In order to save money, I buy my snacks in bulk and store them in my personal drawer in the Science Intel room.”
Buying a whole pack of chips at a supermarket is less costly than buying individual bags of chips at a deli store. Take, for example, the Frito-Lay Variety Pack Chips sold at Walmart for $6.48 in twenty counts. Simply buying this can save you $13 because the chips sold at school costs a dollar per bag. That means 20 bags of chips would cost $20. Compared to purchasing individually priced items, buying in bulk is more effective in saving money, especially during school hours. Through long hours of lectures, the hunger builds and propels you to spend your money recklessly on the foods sold at school.
Foods aren’t the only items that can be purchased in massive quantities. Common beverages, like coffee, can be purchased in packages with multiple servings. Look around the hallways in the morning and you’ll see students protecting their Starbucks drink from the rushing crowd.
According to an Argus survey of 86 random students at the school library, peer tutoring room and cafeteria during different periods, more than half of the students who drink coffee buy a cup for $5 at least once a week. If a student buys Starbucks coffee at that price for once a week during the entire school year, the cost would come to $108. Instead of purchasing overly expensive coffee, try a pack of instant coffee. It sells at about $8 with 50-80 servings. This means that each cup of coffee would cost about 10 to 16 cents. From this, you would save about $100 per year. Now, that’s a lot of money. Put that in your piggy bank.
The most cliché, yet effective, method is by keeping the loose change you get from spending. Set aside a dollar a day and you earn $365 in a year. If that’s too much, saving just 50 cents a day will earn you a little less than $200. Of course, not everyone has the ability to restrain themselves from shopping.
“When I have money, I use it on whatever I can get my hands on like clothes, phone cases and food,” said Mei ’15.
Before you give in to the urge and dive into that wallet, a solution is putting aside money in a savings account. It not only keeps your money safe but also allows the money to grow over time. It is a good way to fight impulsive shopping because it makes access to your money harder.
Lera Larina ’16 has opened a saving account where she is unable to take out the money until she turns 18 years old. “It’s good for me because I won’t spend it all and I’ll collect it for the future. And God forbid something happens, and then you need money out of nowhere. Boom!” she said. “You have it.”
For those who have $500 or more stashed from your birthday or holidays, Mr. James McMahon, a chemistry teacher, recommended students purchase certificates of deposit at a bank because it pays more interest than a savings account. The deal is that you leave an amount of money in the bank over a fixed time which ranges from a few months to several years, but you can’t withdraw it or else you will get penalized for it.
Money saving doesn’t just help you when problems surface. It teaches responsibility, good habits, and prepares students for the future when they become adults.
“It’s never too late to start,” said Ms. Lorrie. “But no time better than the present.”