Live Like a College Student

Nohemi found out about America Saves a few years ago as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She remembers attending a University of Illinois Saves event where she decorated a piggy bank and took the Pledge, but college life made her put the thought of saving at the back of her mind. Those thrifty thoughts resurfaced when she graduated with a degree in public health.

“I grew up with my mother only having a thousand dollars in her savings,” says Nohemi. “I knew I never wanted to live like that.”

Nohemi’s family did not assist her financially in college. “Fortunately, I was able to get my college paid for through grants so when I graduated, I took advantage of the fact that I wasn't in debt (a true luxury) and made a goal that after graduation and during my gap year before graduate school, I would save up at least $20,000.”

This past year, Nohemi has worked as a research associate. When she gets paid, as soon as the direct deposit hits her bank account, she immediately sets aside her next month’s rent and puts most of the rest in savings. She leaves herself $400 each month to spend on food, transportation, and bills.

Nohemi says, “I still live like I am an undergraduate and do not touch my savings account. I buy almost all my clothing secondhand; if new, I only buy during extreme sales (think buy one get one for a penny).”

Nohemi says she doesn’t eat out at all, and makes all her lunches and dinners. “My biggest tip is to only carry $15 in cash and no debit card. You'd be surprised how easy it is to spend $30 per day.”

Using these strategies, Nohemi has managed to save an impressive amount over the past year, and has even surpassed her original savings goal. “I have $25,000 in savings at the age of 23. I never thought this was possible.”

Although she achieved her original goal and then some, Nohemi plans on kicking her savings into high gear this summer. “I plan to work on weekends while I work full-time and put all those earnings into savings,” says Nohemi. “For graduate school, I plan on getting an assistantship where they pay for tuition, and I can live on each of the pay checks.”

Although she won't be earning a salary while pursuing her Master’s Degree in Public Health, she hopes her assistantship will cover at least her rent and food so that she doesn’t have to dig too deeply into her savings.

She says her short-term goal is to continue to set aside $80-100 each month for her education. Her long-term savings goals are to save for a house and her future children’s education.

Nohemi says the biggest benefit she has gotten from saving is that it has made her feel “more secure and at peace.” She says, “I feel like I have a good cushion now and can cover any emergency.”

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