When you're living on an AmeriCorps stipend, every penny matters. To help you make the most of your bi-weekly stipend, we took to Snapchat to learn how alumni and senior AmeriCorps members stretched their paychecks.
Use an app to track your spending in real time
There are lots of apps you can download on your tablet, desktop or mobile device that help you create a personalized budget and help you save a little bit each month. Digit and Mint are two that many of our alumni recommend.
Sometimes, though, you can't beat a classic. Good ol' Microsoft Excel has budget templates you can use as well.
Find a bank without hidden fees
When money is tight, the last thing you want to do is spend it on something like bank charges. When choosing a bank, talk to a representative about debit card fees or minimum balance fees. Be sure to ask if they offer any rewards or perks, such as ATM reimbursements.
Apply for food benefits and join loyalty programs
Cooking your own meals is generally more cost effective than dining out. Most City Year AmeriCorps members are eligible to apply for food supplement programs like SNAP benefits, which help you cover monthly grocery expenses. In many cities, you can use those food benefits at grocery stores and local farmer's markets.
Additionally, we recommend customer appreciation programs at your local grocery stores and restaurants. Many offer free items or discounted prices for loyal customers.
Have fun without spending a dime
Having a strict budget doesn't mean you can't have fun. In fact, at City Year, we believe in making time for the things you love. Self-care is important and it helps you recharge and stay energized for a great day of service.
If you recharge by reading or watching movies, get a local library card. Not only can you check out books and movies from libraries, you'll also gain access to their digital libraries as well. (The best part about borrowing ebooks? There's no way to accrue late fees!)
If you recharge by spending time outside with friends and family, consider spending time at a local or national park. The National Parks Service is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year—so keep an eye out for special events and festivals near you!