college savings piggy bank

Money-saving apps can help take some of the guesswork out of creating and maintaining healthy saving habits. Some students are turning to apps such as Mint and Qapital, which help the user better understand budgeting.

Saving money can seem like a complicated process that restrains college students from spending money on luxury items like new clothes or going out to eat. However, there are many popular tricks to help save money.

Cierra Donal, senior journalism major, said it took almost her entire college career to figure out the best way for her to save money.

“I couldn’t really figure out how to get past $100 in a traditional savings account, but my friend turned me onto an app called Qapital,” Donal said. 

Qapital is an app available on Android and iOS devices. The app rounds up the closest dollar amount of what a user spends at a store and deposits the amount into a linked account, according to Donal. Users can set the rules for how much the app deposits into their account.

For example, if Donal were to spend $4.99 on a cup of coffee at Starbucks, Qapital would round the amount up to $5 and transfer $5 into her linked account.

With Qapital, Donal said she doesn’t have to directly manage her savings, so her extra money is “out of sight, out of mind.” 

Donal said it’s kind of a slow process, but it makes her feel like she is making some progress toward her financial goals. 

According to Qapital’s website, the app blends behavioral psychology with technology. In practice, the user sets goals for themselves and gives the app rules to follow for automatic saving.  

“I also got a couple ideas off of TikTok, like the envelope hack, and that’s been going well so far,” Donal said.  

The 100-day envelope challenge that circulated TikTok involves labeling envelopes 1 through 100. Each day, one envelope is drawn and the number displayed on the front of the envelope indicates the amount of money that has to be saved that day. The end goal is to save $5,050, but the user doesn’t have to save more than $100 in one day. 

The challenge can be adjusted to fit any person's budget. Some people draw two envelopes per week while others might fill an envelope every day.  

Mint is another money saving app. It allows users to track their purchases and budget their money accordingly. 

Mint can help categorize a user’s spending and help them better understand where most of their spending is happening. 

Victoria Jacobson, financial aid coordinator at Missouri State, said convenience purchases around campus on food and BearWear can be tempting for students, but their cost can quickly add up. 

“It’s important to pay for necessities and then pay yourself,” Jacobson said. 

By limiting unnecessary spending, Jacobson said people often figure out what is most important to them. 

“Some people love eating out because it’s a sense of community, so they will spend more money on eating out than buying new clothes,” Jacobson said. 

Jacobson recommends students set up a savings account as soon as possible. 

“I remember it’s something my dad set up for me before I even got my first job,” Jacobson said.

Brianna Goebel, senior socio-political communication major, said she has saved over $10,000 in 2020 by limiting what she buys to the essentials.

"I work (in) retail so it can be hard not to buy new clothes, but as my mom said to me, 'I don't have to be a fashionista in college,'" Goebel said. 

Goebel said once she gets her paycheck, she sets aside the money she had budgeted for gas and groceries for the next two weeks, then the rest goes toward bills or into her savings. 

When there is less money sitting in her bank account, Goebel said she becomes more conscious of her spending. 

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