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Stop Being a Broke College Student

If you’re a college student reading this, I don’t need to tell you that being a full-time college student is rough. I remember being in college full-time, working a part-time job all while raising a child and trying to find time for myself, let alone my family. I never had money for anything it seemed. Learn how to stop being a broke college student.

Just Ask

Now, with my children grown up and heading off to college I was inspired to research all the different resources that would be available to them. If there was a way that they could save money while in college, mama bear is going to find it.

I feel like most college students aren’t aware that there are numerous discounts, reward programs and resources available to them. Because of this, they aren’t able to take advantage of them.

First, the easiest way to get discounts on purchases or services is to simply ask “Do you offer discounts to college students?” Here are a list of places that offer discounts to college students. Generally, all you need to do is show your valid college ID to get the discount.

  • Chipotle – free drink with purchase
  • Burger King – 10% off
  • Dairy Queen – 10% off
  • Dunkin Donuts – 10% off
  • Chik-Fil-A – free drink with meal purchase
  • McDonald’s – 10% off
  • Subway – 10% off
  • Papa John’s – 10%-20% off
  • Pizza Hut – 10%-20% off
  • Domino’s – 10%-20% off
  • Arby’s – 10% off
  • Buffalo Wild Wings – 10% off
  • Firehouse Subs – 10% off
  • Qdoba – free drink with purchase OR $5 Burrito meal
  • Taco Bell – 10% off
  • Waffle House – 10% off
  • Buca Di Beppo – 10% off

So, next time you’re friends want to meet up for a bite to eat, suggest one of these places and save money on your bill while socializing with friends. Double win.

Cars, Clothes & Tickets, Oh My!

Discounts on restaurants are not the only category college students can save. College students can save in other categories such as automotive, entertainment and clothing. Here are a few places that offer discounts to college students showing a valid ID.

  • Car Dealerships – there are so many different offers out there. Just to name a few, Hyundai offers $400 off a purchase or lease OR $900 towards student loans! What a great incentive. BMW also offers $1000 off a new or certified-used purchase. Any college students out there wanna flex a Beamer?
  • Movie Theaters – most theaters offer matinee pricing to college students with a valid ID. This usually saves $3-$4 off per ticket…just enough to have money left over to buy concessions.
  • Clothing stores such as Charlotte Russe, Forever 21, PacSun, Steve Madden and Top Shop all offer discounts to college students who present a valid student ID.

Save Time AND Money

Another great area to save money as a college student is with subscription services. A major benefit of signing up for subscriptions with online services such as “>Amazon Prime Student and “>Audible is that not only will you save money but you will save time. Saving time is priceless especially when you’re trying to study for finals, make it to your part-time job on time and still find time to eat and sleep. The struggle is real out here people!

Aside from the fact that having you’re own “>Amazon Prime account is now considered a right of passage, there are some awesome perks when you sign up for a student account. First of all, you get to try Amazon Prime 100% completely free for 6 months! You read that right, 6 months, half a year for free. It will cost you absolutely nothing. This means you get to enjoy “>UNLIMITED free 2-day shipping with no minimum order plus exclusive deals and promotions only for you fabulous college students. The best part, after your 6-month trial you decide you want to pay for an membership, it will only cost you $6.49/month (or $59/year if you pay annually). This alone saves you almost half the cost of a traditional Amazon Prime account.

Books, Books, Books!

However, if you love to read then you may be interested in “>Audible. I know it can be hard to find time to sit down and read a book (other than a textbook) when you’re a student. This is where “>Audible can come in handy. As an Amazon Prime Student member, you get access to thousands of books, audio-books, magazine and comics for free just by being a member. Not every book you may be looking for will be available for free on“> Audible through your “>Amazon Prime Student account. Don’t let that hinder you. You can “>sign up for an Audible account and get 1 audio-book and 2 Audible Originals free every single month. This is a great way to build a digital library that you can access anywhere at any time. This saves money on the cost of buying physical books and saves time on having to go to the book store or library for books. Yet again, another double win!

One Last Parting Tip

Also, if you don’t have a side hustle going you could be missing out on some super easy income. Check out my post on Passive Streams of Income you can be using right now to put more money in your pocket! When I say passive, I mean passsssssive. The majority of these streams require little to no effort from you. Can you say show me the money??? Check it out here.

So, there you have it. Easy ways to save money as a college student. You work hard enough between studying and employment. You deserve to enjoy your life and your money as much as you can.

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What in the World is a Sinking Fund???

I’m glad you asked. I have heard budget bloggers talk about sinking funds and how important they are to their financial well-being. I would be so amazed by the large amounts of money people were able to save all while making it look so effortless. However, I always thought to myself “I’ll check into that later” and then conveniently forgot about it…until a few months ago.

So, let me take you back to August 2019. I am sitting on my couch enjoying the ice cold air conditioning (it’s August in Arizona. Need I say more?) and I’m running through my head Christmas and birthday gift ideas for my kids. They both have birthdays in December, lucky me. Naturally, I start running an invisible tally in my head until I make myself queasy from the grand total. That’s when a little voice in the back of my head (like way in the back…like under a box, even) whispers “try sinking funds, you must.” That’s when I actually made the effort and dove head first into sinking funds. I haven’t looked back since.

Sinking funds are money that you set aside to help soften the hardship of an expected future expense. These are expenses like holidays, birthdays and vacations. It makes it more manageable to save small amounts of money over a longer period of time versus trying to save a huge wad of cash in a short amount of time. I like to think of sinking funds as the chisel that is slowly chipping away at something. I know what you’re thinking. Melissa, isn’t this like an emergency fund? Let me explain.

Sinking Fund vs Emergency Fund

Although they may look alike, talk alike and sound alike, they are more like cousins than sisters. Both sinking funds and emergency funds are methods used to save a large amount of money. However, here are the distinct differences between the two.

Initiating My First Sinking Fund

After I educated myself on what a sinking fund was, I decided to give it a try. I decided I need to find a way to save $800 by Christmas. Here’s a sample of me putting my thoughts down on paper lol.

This was my plan. If I put away $100 every paycheck for the next 8 paychecks, I’d have enough money for my December occasions. I decided to make a cash envelope for this sinking fund. This method made it easy for me to see my progress which only motivated me further. Get this free cash envelope here!

What Do I Really Think of Sinking Funds?

Honestly, sinking funds (IMO) are genius! It really isn’t a new concept, if you think about it. It’s reminiscent of my childhood piggy bank. I remember saving every penny I found so I could buy the new Corvette for my Barbie dolls. This is the same concept…only I am older and I don’t play with Barbies anymore.

I really enjoyed using a sinking fund for my December occasions. Utilizing sinking funds is something I will continue to do from here on out. In fact, I have already started my sinking fund for Christmas 2020. I created a cute cash envelope that also doubles as my tracking sheet. Check it out in the Free Stuff tab above. You simply download it, print it out and use it to save for your holiday spending. Happy saving!

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How to Start a Super Simple Budget

I feel like it’s everywhere. “How I paid off $40k of debt in 8 months” and “How I saved $1200 a month using this budget.” I am not hating. Don’t get me wrong. I just feel like these are especially unique situations. Getting out of debt is a real struggle. It’s not glamorous and its not effortless.

Getting Started

When I started my journey towards financial freedom, the first thing I needed to learn was how to create a budget. I tried creating a budget on Quick Books and even tried creating a spreadsheet on Excel…only to not ever use either of these again. Finding a budget that works for you hugely depends on your learning style. I love computer graphs and colorful charts but I learn best hands-on.

I found this budget sheet on thebudgetmom.com website and decided to give it a whirl. This is a great budget sheet. However, I found myself whiting out certain sections of the sheet that didn’t really apply to my situation. I wanted something super easy (and cute to look at) to use until I became more familiar with budgeting. Ultimately, I ended up creating my own budget sheets. (You can get them free under the Free Stuff tab) Below is a picture of how I set up my monthly budget sheet. I like to know what I have to pay and when I have to pay them in correlation to my paydays. This type of budgeting is called paycheck budgeting.

The Rationale

Overall, this method has helped me make my payments on time (no more forgotten payments Yay!) and it has helped me plan special purchases. For example, (referring to my budget sheet pictured above) I know I have two birthdays this month. Budgeting these special occasions on to my monthly budget sheet ensures that I can control which paycheck the extra expenses will come from. This way, my regular monthly bills are not affected and I don’t forget to buy birthday gifts.

Honestly, I lived and breathed for TBM’s budgeting techniques. I learned so much from Miko. You can check out her page here.

The How-To

How to use this budget sheet:

  1. First, write down every bill you pay. Write down the company name, amount due (estimate if the amount varies per month) and write down the day it is due.
  2. Second, fill out the calendar for the month you are budgeting. Write the bill name down on the corresponding dates on the calendar.
  3. Next, write in your paydays with your estimated net take home pay.
  4. Color code your paydays for each week and highlight the bills you will be paying with each weekly pay check with the correlating color.
  5. Finally, sit back and admire your masterpiece!

It’s Not Over

Once this monthly budget sheet is completed, I take it a step further. I use my Paycheck Bill Tracker sheet to write down the exact dollar amount of each expense. Ultimately, I also use this sheet to deduct the total amount of expenses from my total amount of income. You can download all the budgeting sheets you need for free here. Depending on what (if any) is left over after doing this, I also use this sheet to determine how much will be placed into savings and my sinking funds. Wait, let me not get too ahead of myself. More about my Paycheck Bill Tracker and sinking funds on my next post.

Would you like to see how I distribute the left over funds from each paycheck? Comment below & I’d be happy to show you!

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Passive Income You Can Start Using Now!

Three Easy, Minimal-Effort Passive Streams of Income You Can Start Now!

We could all use a little extra money, am I right? I’ve spent nights pinning articles on how to make extra income. Every pin I come across always offers great suggestions but usually the recommendations are very time consuming. For instance, a common suggestion is to start a YouTube channel. That’s a great suggestion (check out my channel here) but it takes a lot of time. Aside from the fact that you need to film something that interest people, edit your video, upload your video and promote your video you also need to meet certain criteria before you can monetize your video. Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially when you need a little extra income now.

What about the recommendation to sell your unwanted clothing online? I do this exact thing on Poshmark (check out my closet here.) The buzz kill is that you have to find time to take pictures of all your items, write descriptions for each item and then price the items competitively. Then, you sit and wait to see if anyone makes an offer on your item. You can usually get your money within a few days after a purchaser accepts your item. This is a great way to make extra income but you have to be ready to put the time and effort into it.

My point is, these are all great steams of income, but I want to share something with you that will provide a quicker return without taking up a lot of wo-man hours.

I am going to share with you 3 passive streams of income that will generate a bit of extra cash for you now with little to no effort. Don’t get me wrong; These suggestions are not going to make you rich over night, however the potential to make a pretty penny is definitely there. Are you ready to get that bag? Lesssgo!

Cash back apps are a great way to make money on items you were already planning on buying. Wait, come again? I am going to make money on the money I was already going to spend? Yasss Queen, that’s what I’m sayin’. How this works is you link your debit card to the app and once you make a purchase with a corresponding rebate, you get cash back. Here are some screenshots of my most recent cashback payments I’ve received from cash apps. I have seen people who use these apps religiously and make a ton more money than I do. However, the amounts I am showing is just from me “setting-and-forgetting” the app and going about my day. Not too shabby if I do say so myself.

I am a total “set-it-and-forget-it” type of gal. I don’t want to have to wade through pages of rebate offers just to see if anything matches what I am going to buy. Just let me swipe my card and get cash back? K? K. Bye.

Dosh is a new cash back app that I am absolutely in love with. Similar to Rakuten (formerly Ebates), you earn cash back on items you routinely purchase. What I really like is that you can link your debit card to the app and earn cash back online and in-person. You don’t need to waste time looking through their rebate deals and matching them to your purchases. You make the purchase, Dosh matches it to all the available rebates it offers for that item and bada-boom bada-bing, you get your cash back deposited into your account. You can check out Dosh here and Rakuten here.

So, the next stream of income I use that takes a wee-bit of time are survey sites. This is not a set it and forget it type of income stream. However, I like to use apps like SurveyJunkie and Swagbucks when I’m waiting in the doctors office, in a long line at the grocery store or sitting on the toilet (come on! We all play on our phones in the bathroom lol) When you have down time, why not make some extra cash?

Both of these apps allow you to cash out your money with a bank transfer, PayPal or e-Gift cards. You get to choose how you want your cold hard cash. Check out Survey Junkie here and Swagbucks here.

Finally, the third stream of income I want to mention is car advertising. What is car advertising you say? Well, let me explain. If you have a car, it could generate some extra cash for you. Sites like Carvertise pay you money to allow them to advertise their business on your vehicle. Just think about this. All you have to do is drive your car like you normally do, but the only difference is you make money while doing it. Cha-chiiiiiiing! Check out Carvertise here and see if it’s something that would work for you.

That’s how I like it. Pay me money to do the stuff I was already planning on doing.

These, my friends, are true passive streams of income that take almost little to no effort at all.

Although some of my posts contain affiliate links, I am not an affiliate or ambassador with any of the companies I mentioned above. I mentioned them because I personally use them. Any link listed is a referral link which allows me to receive a small referral bonus. This referral is offered to every single customer using their app.

Maybe once you have extra dough rolling in from using these passive streams of income, you might be interested in saving some of it. Learn how you can save like a pro here.