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Staying Thrifty in School

College requires a lot of money- fact. The cost of living in certain areas is high and that is going to effect what you can spend money on- fact. There are a lot of ways for college students to end up dropping more money than they should while struggling to pay for an education. An important motto that we hear a lot about now at days is “fiscal responsibility.” Well it’s not just good advice for a government or business, but for individuals as well.

College is an experience. For that experience, you are going to spend money. Whether it be for books, supplies, food, social functions and everything in between. I don’t want to sit here and tell you to not add an extra coal in the furnace to keep Bob Cratchit warm, but you don’t want to be dropping $100 at the bar every weekend. Here are some tips that will help you be financially responsible while maintaining a balance of fun and saving for the future.

  • Plan a monthly budget. But don’t just plan it, stick to it.
  • Get a job on campus. Campus jobs usually work around student schedules while providing decent pay for work experience.
  • Avoid reckless spending. This includes impulse buys at store registers.
  • Live within your means. You have not graduated yet and you’re not making $100,000 a year. Don’t spend like you are.
  • Use your credit card for emergencies only. Remember, you do have to pay that bill eventually.
  • Stay in every once in a while. It is not essential to go out every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Stay in and chill or have dinner parties where everybody chips in for food and beverage.
  • On that note, go shopping for groceries. You would be amazed at how much you save on buying groceries instead of going out every night. Dollar menus add up.
  • Buy used books. Colleges have a serious problem of overcharging students for text books they’ll hardly every use. Buy used books online or borrow from a friend.
  • Take part in free activities on campus. They’re free. Money savor and they’re usually not as lame if you actually participate.
  • Start biking around campus. Save money on the ridiculous price of gas and car maintenance.
  • If you live in an apartment, get a roommate. Split the costs of rent, utilities and maybe even groceries if you’re that close.
  • On the same idea, don’t pay for TV. Most of what people watch can be found online, plus television is distracting from the real reason why you’re at school.
  • Turn down the AC and Heat. Keep a window open or put on a sweater. Or you can buy a snuggie if you want to swallow some pride.

You can find hundreds of other tips on saving money while in school. The point is to start this good habit early so you can implement self control when you graduate, find a real job and start earning peanuts for your first salary. Of course in this economy, if you can buy peanuts with your first job then you’re doing alright for yourself. That’s a joke, son.

Questions? Ideas or suggestions? Follow me on twitter @ChrisComella or email me at ccomella@sparkhire.com

IMAGE: Courtesy of The Frugal Yankee

Christopher Comella

Christopher earned his BA in Political Science from DePaul University in 2011, and is no stranger to writing and deadlines. One of his greatest assets is to add humor to even the driest of subjects, which is why half of his professors love him and the other half hated his work.