So you’re out of your parent’s house and out on your own. Whether that means living in a college dorm room, shared apartment, or a place of your own, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. You have a new set of responsibilities and expenses you may have never considered before now. However, this is also one the most freeing moments of your life and a time to enjoy. It might be tempting to stock up on junk food laze around the house where you make your own rules, but you should work on a balanced lifestyle ASAP.
Saving money and staying healthy are the “adulting” thing to do, but also essential if you actually want to have fun. How can you go out with friends or enjoy a nice weekend when you’re broke and feel like garbage? Short answer: You can’t.
Here are 25 ways you can save money and stay in shape this year. You might already practice some of these habits, but it’s never too late to improve.
1. Start Juicing
Juicing is one the best ways to lose weight and permanently stay in shape. It’s often the key to any lifestyle-change plan. Some people envision juicing as putrid green liquid from the blender, but in reality, juicing is an excellent (and tasty) way to get a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Whatever you decide you like will be easy to digest, cheap to make, and best of all, a healthy snack or way to start the day. Check out over 50 recipes here.
2. Make Smoothies
Much like juicing, smoothies are a healthy way to get your daily dose of fruits. A few vegetables make a mean smoothie as well. Rather than picking up a shake in the drive-thru, consider blending your own smoothies at home. Use coconut/almond milk or yogurt instead of ice cream and milk. You’ll save money and have the option of creating infinite flavors you won’t find on a menu.
3. Brew Coffee at Home
Are you that person that visits Starbucks on the daily for your iced, half caff, ristretto, venti, 4-pump, sugar free, cinnamon, dolce soy skinny latte? News flash: That $7 daily coffee is costing you over $200 every month. A much more cost-effective habit is to brew your own coffee, whether at home or work. A good coffee maker is a small investment in the long run, plus you can make your coffee however you like and eliminate one of your daily stops.
4. Buy Things in Bulk or When on Sale
A Sam’s Club or Costco membership can be great for finding cost-effective essentials like toilet paper, peanut butter, cereal, laundry detergent, or deli meat. Buying items in bulk also means less trips to the grocery store. Plus, you can fill your car up with gas while you’re there. An Aldi or Trader Joe’s may be worth checking out as well.
5. Eat Nutritious Foods
Nutritious foods will keep you feeling energized and fit. Consume protein-rich foods and omega-3 fatty acids on the regular. That includes eggs, healthy meats, fish, and nut butters. Skipping breakfast will leave you tired throughout the day and leads to binge snacking. Make it a habit to start the day with eggs, yogurt, whole grain carbohydrates, and/or fresh fruits. As for snacking, anything high in fat, sugar, or salt should be eaten in moderation. Raw nuts, homemade granola bars, and meats such as turkey or tuna are portable and high in protein.
6. Find Creative Ways to Eat Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
If juicing and smoothies aren’t your cup of tea there are plenty of other ways to sneak some healthy options into your diet. Make a habit of including fresh strawberries and blueberries with breakfast. Perhaps in a fruit salad (add some peaches and bananas, maybe even a little whipped cream) or with yogurt. Include some melted cheesy broccoli, a salad, or carrot chips with lunch and dinner meals. Tomatoes and cucumbers go great with nearly any sandwich.
7. Use a Slow Cooker
Every kitchen should have a slow cooker (or crockpot). There are infinite recipes out there and you can cook a hearty supper while at school or work. Just load it up with ingredients on your way out the door. It’s every young adult’s best friend for chili, organic mac ‘n cheese, meat and potato recipes, among many more options.
8. Shop with Meal Plans in Mind
Unplanned trips to the grocery store result in a cart full of junk food and items that won’t do much to help you plan meals. Make a list before leaving your crib and stick to it. You’ll shop within your means and avoid all the tempting snack foods. If you’re buying in bulk and checking expiration dates, you should be able to shop once every two weeks or so.
9. Don’t Shop While Hungry
This one goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Grocery shopping with a grumbly stomach will tempt you to buy anything and everything that tickles your appetite. Eat something light on your way out the door. There’s nothing harder than looking at endless aisles of food when you need it all in your stomach right now.
10. Clip Coupons
Don’t worry. You don’t need to buy one of those “I used to be cool.” bumper stickers yet. Even if your mom clips coupons, it definitely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. All your coupons can be loaded onto your phone for checkout and can save you a bundle of cash. Apps like Ebates, Ibotta, and Coupons.com are just a few. Use a credit card with cashback bonuses as well. Some are even tailored especially for college students, offering extra rewards and grade incentives. You’ll improve your credit score as well, just make sure you pay the full balance off each month.
11. Lose Weight the Cheap Way
A $10/month gym membership will get you all the amenities you need and you can use the facility as often as you like. If your college has free-to-use equipment, weights, and showers, you may consider using what it has to offer instead. Going for a morning jog or having a workout routine at home is also 100% free. It just requires motivation on your end.
12. Keeping Dining Out at a Minimum
Cooking at home is more cost effective than eating at any restaurant. Save dining out for special occasions. There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a pizza here and there, but if you’re going to steakhouses every other night you may want to re-analyze things.
13. Invest in Economic Appliances
A brand new kitchen set likely isn’t in the cards for you, yet. However, newer, more economic appliances are a factor to consider when choosing an apartment. In most cases, this means higher rent, but you should work out the cost benefit and decide if the tradeoff is worth it. If your rented property is upgrading, or you’re fortunate enough to purchase new appliances for yourself, check out some energy efficient options.
14. Be Savvy in Sourcing Furniture
In dorm rooms, temporary apartments, or a shared house, it’s a good idea to be savvy with your furniture. Check local classifieds for free or cheap furniture, check out yard sales, help your neighbors move (people will usually have a few items not worth taking), or let your parents know you’d like that old couch when they upgrade. And there’s always IKEA when you need it. Remember that anything you acquire now may have to be moved later or left behind.
15. Shop for Gas
We previously mentioned the option of getting gas at the membership grocery store. Oftentimes, they offer the cheapest prices around, but not always. Use and app like GasBuddy to find the cheapest prices in your area. Consider logging your fill-ups as well for budgeting purposes and to monitor your vehicle’s MPG. The can be done with an app, such as Fuelio, or with a simple notebook.
16. Keep up With Insurance Discounts
One expense you’ll have is insurance. Car insurance, renter’s insurance, maybe even life insurance. Either way, you should make it a habit to shop around for lower prices every 3-6 months. Many people pay too much for car insurance without realizing it. Carriers will also offer discounts for taking defensive driver courses, running a driving monitor device, using a dashcam, or getting good grades in school. Renter’s insurance for a single student should cost less than $10/month and may be available as an add-on from your car insurance company.
17. Downsize Your Car
If you don’t have kids or big dogs, there isn’t much point in driving a crossover. Daily driving a V8 pickup truck may be unnecessary if you never tow anything and only hit up The Home Depot once a year. Consider downsizing your vehicle to fit your needs. Lighter vehicles are friendlier to the environment and easier on your checking account.
That new Prius might be tempting with its 52 combined MPG, however, living within your budget might mean a used car is a better option for you. Not only is the sale price cheaper, but so are taxes, insurance, and depreciation won’t hit you nearly as hard. If you’re serious about being energy-efficient, consider an older model car with a manual transmission. You’ll essentially be “recycling” a car that is simple, lightweight, and with minor running costs in the long run.
18. Ride a Motorcycle
Now if you’re really serious about maximizing that MPG, you might consider getting your motorcycle license. The Honda Grom, for example, gets a whopping 134 MPG and makes an excellent urban commuter for around $3,000. Basic insurance should run around $7/month, and you can even store it inside your house (or apartment, if you live on a ground floor). You can also go electric and get a Zero motorcycle, which gets as much as 223 miles on a charge, and literally costs $2 to charge on your outlet. Best of all, you can park it nearly anywhere for free.
19. Cut Products and Services You Can Live Without
Cable subscription? Gym membership that you don’t use? Are you being charged by an app you forgot about? Go through all your memberships, products you routinely buy (that you don’t really want or need), and unneeded services. Decide what’s important to you and what you can live without.
20. Make Your Own Cleaners
With a few household items you can mix your own cleaners. Vinegar and water make a decent all-purpose cleaner. Baking soda and water creates a kitchen cleaner and deodorizer. Rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and water can be used for glass cleaner. Grab a spray bottle set and you’re good to go. Obviously, please be mindful of safety in mixing chemicals and do your research.
21. Do Your Own Repairs
Everyone should know more than how to change a light bulb or put washer fluid in their car. YouTube is your best friend here. Bonus points if you have a handy friend (or dad) nearby. With a few tools and know-how, you can change your own oil, fix a leaky sink, and change out an air filter with ease. The cash you save doing basic repairs adds up over time and so will your sense of accomplishment.
22. Follow a Budget
Using an app like Mint or YNAB is an easy way to track every penny you earn and spend. This will help you do a deep dive into your spending habits. You can also check your previous months stats and see how you’re doing in the long run. Strive to meet the 50/30/20 rule where 50% of your income goes into expenses, 30% on wants, and 20% straight into savings.
23. Be Mindful of Your Utilities
You may have found this annoying when you were younger: Your parents always reminding you to turn the lights off in the room you weren’t using, or to keep your showers under 15 minutes, or to not touch that thermostat. Developing those habits early on should help you now that you’re paying the bills around here. On nice days, consider opening the windows and giving the heat/air conditioner a break. Turn off electricity that you aren’t using. Don’t leave the oven on. And take reasonable showers to conserve water. All of these things will net you extra cash over time.
24. Find Free Ways to Have Fun
You don’t have to spend money to have fun. There are plenty of free (or cheap) hobbies to pick up. The sky’s the limit. Read, have Netflix and/or movie nights, visit a park or nature reserve, bike, walk your dog, volunteer, or explore a new place with friends.
25. Live Within Your Means
The day will come that you do bigger and better things. You improve every day. Your income will get a boost as a result. It can be easy to let your wants overcome your extra income. Start your living habits now so you can comfortably live within your means for the time to come. Use your future raises on worthwhile causes, whatever that may be to you.
We know you’ll do awesome at managing your own place to call home. With your finances and health in check, it’s okay to let loose and enjoy your newfound freedom occasionally. Developing good habits now will pay off for the rest of your adult years.