Caitlyn Westbrook from Georgia State University Said, How do I save money in my daily life?

I always plan a long-term financial plan each academic year that includes a monthly budget of
income and expenses. I have found out that it’s okay to feel it out and change the budget as I
need when my income and expenses fluctuate. My first year had a larger budget than my second
year just because I had more expenses back then and a larger income now.


My commute from my university to my family home is about two hours, so I usually plan to visit
my home at least once a month as long as it fits my course schedule. With rising gas prices, this
might seem impossible, but with one keyword, I have saved so much money: memberships.

I have memberships for anything you can think of if the membership is free. It is also a better
situation when memberships have downloadable applications. I have every app imaginable for
gas stations to save between 3 cents and 10 cents off a gallon. Most apps also have redeemable
rewards for either free items or discounted items.

Apps have been the main money-saving technique for me since I started college. It is the same for restaurants; most food places have apps that track points acquired from purchases that are redeemable for free items.

I make sure to always check if restaurants have mobile apps or memberships so I can either receive discounts or free items because if I am going to have to spend money, I want the best results in return from either free food or good deals.


As I enter my third year of university, I will be entering my third year living on campus as well,
in the lowest cost housing. When I first applied for housing before my freshman year, my mother
and I ranked the dorms by cost, and we noted that Greek Housing was the best dorm for a low
cost. Of course, you had to be in Greek Life to apply for this dorm, so I chose the next best
option available.

As it happens, I ended up joining a Greek Organization and currently serve as
an officer who has the first pick of rooms in the house. Even with the monthly membership dues
required of my organization in addition to the rent, it is still a lower cost than living in any other
dorm.
When it was time to move in for my second year, I limited myself to the bare necessities on my
first trip. I over-packed my first year and my small dorm room felt crowded because of an
excessive amount of shoes, towels, and dishware that I didn’t need.

The idea of having
decorations was nice, too, but I had to be careful of what was allowed since a lot of items can be
prohibited, such as halogen bulbs or candles.

Since I did not want to spend time or money on wall decor or string lights, I bought a $6 floral coloring book, completed it over the summer, and then used sticky tack to pin them on my dorm room walls. I had the sheets of paper surrounding the border of the ceiling and received many compliments on the arrangement. I also made sure to choose an adhesive that would not damage any part of the room to avoid damage costs when it came time to move out.

I plan on maintaining this lifestyle for the next two years at my university until I graduate.
I don’t have to worry about paying for laundry because it is provided by the dorm building.
When it comes to detergent I collect Tide Pods from my family, so I don’t have to buy any on my
own.

I carry my laundry in a basket I got from my mom’s laundry room with her permission. I
also make sure to take care of my belongings, like clothes, towels, and linens, because they can
last a long time if I take care of them. This was the greatest distinction for me between budgeted
and cheap.
When it comes to food, I collect canned pantry items that my family doesn’t use, along with
baking mixes like muffin mix and banana bread mix. These require very little, low-cost
ingredients and last for a week. If I don’t want to bake, I keep microwave meals in the
community freezer.

My nana offered me her old mini-fridge so I can keep my milk and Britta
filter separate from the rest of the house. For flavored drinks, my Nana also buys me bottled
drinks in bulk and packs my car with them when I come home.


I take mass transit everywhere I can, so I only end up using my car when I come home for
breaks. If there is anything I need, usually someone else has it and is willing to let me have it or
will let me borrow it.

My tuition is fully covered by the Zell Miller scholarship, but I am
applying for additional scholarships to cover the additional costs of housing, fees, books, and
other personal expenses that are not covered by federal loans.

Author

Caitlyn Westbrook
Target graduation year: 2024
Academic institution: Georgia State University