Features

5 days on a $20 budget

10.26.16_Features_Shea Wixson_$20 in 5 days_Flickr_Sh4rp_i.jpg

Shea Wixson
  Staff Writer

Most of you reading this right now are probably college students, and if not, don’t worry, because I am sure we can all relate to what I am going to talk about.

We all know college students are not the wealthiest bunch of people out there, and sometimes we spend the little money we have on things we don’t need. Sometimes we make impulse purchases, like a new dress, new tennis shoes or a 12 count box of Krispy Kreme.

After initially loving these purchases, we soon find ourselves in a little bit of a pickle, when we realize that the money we spent should be money used for groceries or books or gas to get from place to place.

That is why, this week, I set a goal to live off of a total of $20 for five days, to see how much money I actually needed to append.

Evenly spread across the five days, I could have $4 a day, and if I spend more or less it carried over to the next day. On Monday, it was fairly easy for me not to spend money, until I realized I was out of shampoo. The shampoo that I normally buy, is between $12-$14, which for this week, was just not going to fly.

So, I took to the internet, and found a way to make my own shampoo. The only ingredient I was missing, was coconut oil. I bought coconut oil for $4.50, and I was in the clear, and I had clean hair.

As for Tuesday and Wednesday, the biggest way I worked to save money, was to pre-prepare all my meals and snacks, and pack them for each day. Normally, I would think to myself, “Oh I’ll just pick something up to eat,” and before I know it, I’d spent $10, $15 on a meal, easy. Of course, it wasn’t until I was budgeting, that I realized that these meals that I had spent so much money on, could have been free, if I had put in the effort to make them at home. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I only spent $2 total, and that was for 2 packs of gum.

On Thursday, I was invited to out to eat with some friends, and at first I didn’t think it would be possible, since I could not afford where they wanted to go, but in reality, I could.

I brought cash with me, and having the cash on hand really helped me stick to the plan, and I got a very filling meal for within my budget.

To save money throughout the week, I brought my own drinks and didn’t order dessert; and as a result, I saved around $3-$6. The easiest way to save money this week, was to make my own food, and to not go out.

As a result of budgeting myself, I cooked more and looked up recipes. While spending so little was a challenge, it was actually fun, and I realized, far healthier than going out.

Another way I saved, was to walk and ride my bike more. And while I had plenty of gas to get me everywhere I needed to be, I didn’t know if I would have to drive a far distance in a case of an emergency.

Additionally, everywhere that I needed to be was within biking distance. I really enjoyed biking places since the weather was nice, and while it may have taken a bit longer to get where I needed to be, biking and walking were more relaxing experiences, as I got to take my time, and I didn’t feel as rushed as I would driving.

On Friday, I had exactly $4 left, and, because I had made it all through the day without needing any money, I decided to treat myself for a job well done. I had set a goal and stuck to it, and it felt really good; and at the end of the day, I even had enough money to splurge on ice cream at Yum Yum’s.

It is okay to splurge and buy things you want; we just all have to be careful that it doesn’t come at the cost of something more important.

At the end of the week, I realized I could be saving a lot more money than I am, and ultimately, I will be continuing this trend of a budgeting myself throughout the week. I encourage others to try it too.

That’s not to say, that I think everyone should be monitoring their spending scrupulously at all times — it’s okay to get that Cookout Tray, or an extra slice at Maxie B’s, just make sure to have a good budget, because let’s face it, we are all human, and we need cake, or ice cream, or shoes or cute clothes — to get us through our day.

Word count: 810

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