Thursday, August 29, 2013

College Guide to Saving Money This School Year

College can be a tough time to learn about financial planning and a rather opportune time to be completely broke. In light of the back-to-school season, I've created this short and simple guide to penny pinching and making smart choices to save more money. 

Be sure to also check out other college guides by clicking the links provided:

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#1. Cooking vs. dining out. Most dorms aren't equipped with kitchens, so this may not be an option for many people.  However, over time, a freshman may befriend upperclassmen who live in off campus apartments and are willing to facilitate cooking sessions. Plan movie nights and offer to cook dinner if everyone contributes to buying groceries.  This helps eliminate the cost of always going out to eat and spending unnecessary money.
Tip: Always stay later to help clean up as a token of courtesy and appreciation.  
#2. Study.Work.Play. Juggling a job and a course load may be difficult for some students, especially those who are in athletics and/or other student organizations. However, time management is essential and finding a good balance is one of the most important things to learn about being in the real world.  Financial aid also assist students through work study programs.
Tip: Employers always pay attention to students who are able to work while in school because it shows how well-rounded they are. 
#3. Find a side hustle.  What are you good at that can be of service to others? For example, if you are good at math, you can sign up to be a paid tutor at elementary, middle, and high schools in the area.  Do/cut hair in your dorm room. Edit papers. Join Mary Kay and host fun, skin care classes with your friends.  Only do services for free as a one-time demonstration of its value. 

#4. Use alternative ways to obtain the books you need for class. College textbooks in campus bookstores tend to be overpriced and usually cannot be resold at the same price. Sometimes college towns have used bookstores, such as Ed McKay's in Greensboro, NC, that have the same books at a lesser price. Research websites that allow you to rent books. Another option is to borrow books from students who have previously taken the class, which can always be done efficiently via social media platforms like Twitter. 
Tip: Websites like Chegg.com allow you to rent textbooks at discounted rates. 
#5. Budgeting.  Even if you are one of the fortunate students, who receive money from mom and dad every month, it's important to be able to budget your money.  Prioritize and use what is left over as play money. On the weekends, plan how much you're willing to spend.  For instance, you and your friends want to spend Saturday night out.  The itinerary is movies, dinner, and a party. Configure the potential cost, know how much you want to spend at each place and don't go over that. 
Tip: If the budget is a little tight, explain to your friends that you can't accept the invitation. The best/real friends will bring the party to you when they know you really want to go out, but aren't able to. Remember that.
#6. Avoid impulse shopping.   This is something I'm still learning how to manage, but there is definitely a huge difference in how I spend my money now vs. how I did when I was 18 with no responsibilities.  Now, I'm cautious of ill thought out purchases.  It's a lot of things that can wait, things that aren't needed in that very moment. This is guaranteed way to save money for those days you really do need it and wished you hadn't spent it on a new pair of shoes.
Tip: Never shop for groceries when you're hungry. 

That's all I have for now.  If anyone, who is currently in school or has already graduated and has anything to add, please leave your piece of advice in the comment section below! All the feedback is appreciated! 

Chymere Anais
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4 comments

  1. I'm almost out of college, and I still haven't mastered how to manage my money ! Granted I do better now that I've improved my impulse buying, but it's still hard. Budgeting is no problem for me - sticking to that budget is where the trouble comes in.

    I'm always saying I can't wait until I get out of school, but maybe I need to have a seat and figure out my finances before I go out in the real world haha :)

    Zauni | The Kind Side

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    1. LOL Yea it took me a while to learn about money management also...and things I am still learning seeing that I haven't finished yet. My mom laughed when she read this because she knows how horrible I used to be when it came to my spending habits, but I'm getting better! I think many of these tips can be applied to real life also.

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  2. Great post Chymere! You mentioned things that I never would have thought of :) Well, seeing as though Im a recent graduate, I know the above situations all TOO well.

    1. Thank God for college and their meal plans. Meal plans make eating out a lot more easier, especially if you have well-known restaurants on campus and in your student union. Most times you don't have to miss out on eating out. If you are living in a college town, the majority of their restaurants have eating out specials throughout the week. I.e: 40 cent wing tuesday, $5 pizza mondays etc. Due to all the extracurricular things in the week its often hard to cook.

    3. I never was fortunate to tap into my side hustle. I lived off of financial aid and scholarships, which was helpful. If you receive loans etc. make sure that you budget accordingly and set a weekly or monthly allowance and you'll be fine. For example, $50 a week or $300 a month. I always knew I'd get more fin aid in the spring, so this also helped with budgeting.

    4. I would recommend renting your books, which is usually have the price of owning them. Amazon.com also offers used books, which are usually more than 50% off.

    5. Budgeting - lets be honest, is a skill that most college students don't master until they're on their way out the door. This was also usually the case for my friends and I. It's college - live a little.

    6. Impulse shopping, I had THIS BAD. Around my senior year, I begin to ask myself the question: "Is this a need or a want?" When you can answer this question, you're off to a good start :)

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    1. Great additional tips! I forgot to mention meal plans but those are a lifesaver too!

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