Money Challenge: How To Save $200 In One Semester + Tips For Conquering Your Spending

17-week money savings plan

I’m going to assume that you’re here because you recently blew through at least half your bank account and need to round up some extra dough for that road trip to Cali you’ve been dreaming of, or those concert tickets that could otherwise burn a hole in your wallet. Either that or you’re just really curious about how to save money. Either way, welcome, friend.

I feel like college is a difficult time for trying to save money—with expenses for school materials (I’m looking at you, $200 textbook), using real cash for food when you run out of meal points and $10 for every ladies’ night with your friends, it can be hard to not spend every dime you have. However, college is also the best time to start learning how to curb your spending. Chances are, you’re living at home or in a dorm room, so you aren’t paying your own rent and bills yet. Building good money spending and saving habits now will put you well on your way to being more responsible with your cash when you finally move out.

Money has been playing a huge role in my life in recent months since I’ve been experimenting with tracking my spending, budgeting, and saving for what I want, so I decided to share my tips in this post. I always see those money-saving challenges on Pinterest, and they’re cool except they assume that you’re making enough money weekly in order to save $50+ every week. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s not possible! So, I decided it would be fun to create my own little challenge with figures that are a little more realistic for college students with at least a part-time job or paid internship.

$200 in a 16-week semester (plus an extra week for finals!) may not seem like a lot compared to, say, $1,000 in three months, but think of it this way: by the end of the semester dropping $200 on concert tickets won’t be as painful as not saving at all! So if you’re ready to take on this challenge, check out the above worksheet! Also, read on for tips on how to stay on top of your spending.

Read also: 13 Tips For Saving Money In College 

Tips for conquering your spending…

1. Use a budget notebook.

I love writing everything down in a planner because it helps me stay organized so I can accurately set aside money for the things I need every month. And, if you get yourself a really cute notebook, it can be super fun to write in, too! I received this one from ClassTracker, which has a really great collection of planners for all your college student needs (I wrote a review of their college assignment planner, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance!). This one lets you budget for things like food, entertainment, transportation, personal care, and anything else that you always spend money on. If you want a planner that isn’t super hardcore and complicated, this is a great one to start with.

17-Week Money Saving Challenge

2. Avoid impulse buying.

I know it can be easy to drop $100 on clothes during surprise shopping sprees to the mall (I know because I’ve done that before!) but always ask yourself whether or not you actually need the item you’re about to purchase. Of course it’s okay to purchase things you just want, but I always ask myself: will I still be obsessed with this item in 2-4 weeks? If the answer is no, I put it back.

3. Keep track of everything you spend money on, and what you use to pay.

Last semester, I became obsessed with writing down my spending in a spreadsheet. It was comforting to be able to look back on it at the end of the month and just know where my money went. Also, make sure you indicate whether you used credit, debit, PayPal, or other form of payment to purchase the item. I like knowing exactly how much I took out of my account and how much I have left.

4. Suggest hang outs with friends that are free.

Every hangout doesn’t have to be a $25 brunch on a Saturday. And you’d be surprised by how quickly those $10 bills for ladies’ night at the bar can add up over the course of a few months. Look up free local events for the weekends, or have your own free version of ladies’ night in your dorm. I have a post on How To Spend Time With Your Friends. I wrote it during the summertime, so it’s very summer-centered, but it never hurts to take a look and keep it in your back pocket for June.

5. Look for deals wherever you can.

Groupon has become a personal favorite of mine for saving money. I always find really cool discounts there, and they help keep the costs of cool activities down. Don’t be shy about busting out your phone to Google coupons while making a purchase! You can also subscribe to newsletters from your favorite brands and companies for exclusive deals and notifications about sales.

6. Rent instead of buying, if you can.

This is especially for textbooks, because we all know they can be expensive as hell. In my post on How To Actually Get Your Textbooks, I talk more about renting instead of buying and other important tips. This can also go for things like furniture and formal wear!

How much money do you think you can save in one semester? What are your tips for curbing your spending? 

Jasmin - Macarons & Mascara

  • Araminta Robertson

    Love this money challenge! Do you know if there’s an app for it? I do all my budgeting through an app called Coinkeeper and then carry it on to an excel spreadsheet at the end of the month. Really satisfying to see it all in one place haha