I recently got an email from reader Tom who is in a funk about his savings habits and is asking for some help. I would like get your advice as well and will make sure Tom gets the info.

The problem is that just about this time every year I get really into his frugal thing, but once I get out of school for the summer (I'm a college student), I seem to forget everything I learned. I've read Millionaire Next Door like three times and I get excited about saving money but I still seem to fail when it comes right down to it.

I'm hoping you have some advice for a poor college student to help him get by, or better, get ahead.

Thanks a ton

One of the best things about going to school or even to work is that it pushes us into a routine. We do pretty much the same thing each day at the same time and that cuts down what limited time we have to extras...socializing, shopping, etc.

However, when we get a vacation we lose that structured set of habits and it seems everything we used to do goes out the window, I fully understand your frustration with that.

There are some ways you can keep yourself to a habit or at least maintain some sort of habit while on vacation from school.

1. Plan ahead for spending and savings - Put aside 5-10% or a set amount of any money you get over the summer into savings. If you sell something or help a neighbor and get paid, put part of it away immediately. Have a goal to reach makes this easier.

2. Look out for free - Staying frugal in the summer is a bit easier as there are more free activities to do outdoors. Also check with your local library for speakers or classes that you go to. Look in your local paper (usually Wed, Fri or Sat. editions) for free activities. Also look into internship or volunteer work that may relate to your major or interests.
I volunteered as security/usher at an Elton John/Billy Joel concert many moons ago.

3. Simply say No - Sometimes keeping on the path to saving and living frugal means saying no to friends to go out to eat, drink and be merry. You may even be able to offer an alternative plan based on some of the free events you are aware of. Why not use peer pressure to your more frugal advantage.

Am I totally out of sync here readers; what are your thoughts on helping Tom out?


On some related posts, I found that show how frugal living can weave its way into our lives, even when that isn't the reason we are doing it. Dao is preparing for a marathon so he has decided to RUN his errands. Saving money and getting healthy all in a few steps.

I like to keep up on the responses to the question: What have you done to save a penny? A few of the responses are repeats but there are so many tips out in the wide world of web that it is good to be reminded.

Some things just can't be sold like old prescription glasses or an old digital camera, but there are some ideas of where to donate your unwanted stuff that will help others and make you feel good.


  1. Stephanie // Tuesday, March 03, 2009 4:13:00 PM  

    Put your savings somewhere that it's not easy to get to them. I like online banks for this - it takes 3 days to transfer from an online bank to my checking account, so that's 3 days to think before I spend! Good online banks: ING Direct, Emigrant Direct, and E*Trade

    Have goals. Saving toward something specific has a different psychological effect than just saving for whatever. Stealing from your "travel fund" to pay for a trip to the movies hurts a little, which prevents you from doing it!

  2. Karla (ThreadBndr) // Wednesday, March 04, 2009 1:47:00 PM  

    If you are working part time at school, then automate your savings. When you pick up your summer job, do the same.

    Think about your savings like it's a bill. You owe it to yourself (bad pun, but true).

  3. ~Dawn C // Wednesday, March 04, 2009 4:10:00 PM  

    Thank you for your idea for online banking - like a forced wait-to-purchase account.

    Making savings a bill is a must for myself, I fully support that idea.