College students are notoriously broke. College is the first time that you’re responsible for paying for all your necessities by yourself. You’ll need to cover rent, food, clothes, cell phone bills, and maybe even car payments… and that doesn’t even include the impending loans threatening to crush you after graduation! How can you ever save up money up for some of the finer things in life? The answer is: an incremental savings plan!
Photo: Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash
Incremental savings plans are systems for saving money that aren’t a big hassle, and they sneakily build up quickly. Today, I’m going to give you two examples of them, starting with an easy one, and then a tougher one. Obviously, your ability to commit to either of these plans will depend on your income and needs.
Pennies Per Day
I call this incremental savings plan “Pennies Per Day” because that’s literally how much you’re saving. You never have to save more than $3.65 in a day! It doesn’t sound like much, considering it’s about a third of a Chipotle burrito, but at the end of the year, you’ll have saved over $650! Here’s how it works:
Get yourself a big mason jar or a cute piggy bank. Since we’re trying to save money here, I recommend the mason jar. Every day, you’ll put in more money based on your personal plan. This plan, of course, is one penny. On day 1, deposit one penny. On day 2, put in two. On day 100, put in one dollar. On day 365, you’ll deposit $3.65. Do you see the trend? At the end of a year, you’ll have saved $667.95, and you’ll barely notice it throughout the year.
Savings Pro Plan
The second incremental savings plan is much tougher because, even though it only has you depositing money once a week, the amounts are much higher. In this one, you’ll need 52 envelopes, which you can decorate with motivational quotes, and you’ll be saving in increments of $5.
In week one, you will just save $5. In week two, you’ll save $10. In week 10, you’ll save $50. If that’s starting to sound crazy, don’t worry, because that’s the highest it goes. In week eleven, you go back to $5 again, and then you work your way back up to $50 by week twenty. This ten-week cycle continues for fifty weeks, and in the last two weeks, you save $5 and $20. At the end of this one, you’ll have a whopping $1,400! That’s enough for a very healthy emergency fund, a deposit for an apartment, a deposit for a retirement account, or maybe even a trip!
There will be some days or weeks that are harder than others. Things happen. I recommend that you save a little extra on the weeks that you have a little extra money to spare, leaving you with some cushion. Once you fall behind, it’s harder to stay motivated.
I hope these incremental savings plans help you reach your goals! You have enough to worry about in college — money shouldn’t be on that list!
Nicole Locorriere is a 23-year-old graduate student in marriage and family therapy at Seton Hall University. She got her B.A. in psychology from West Chester University, and can't wait to move back there after graduation! Nicole also runs a blog called Uninspired, which focuses on mental health and other aspects of helping twenty-somethings transition smoothly into this whole "adulting" thing. When she's not helping couples and families work out their differences or conquering the blogosphere, you can find her substitute teaching.