The New Year is fast approaching and with it comes the inevitable resolution. As a college student on a tight budget, I have resolved to have money in my wallet at the end of the month. I’ve done the research and discovered that, with a bit of common sense and spending will-power, it is actually quite possible to save money and still enjoy all that college life has to offer. Here are the ten things I plan to do to keep my bank account out of the red:
1. Credit Union: I have two part-time jobs that I work strictly to have spending money. Rather than spending frivolously, I’ll be putting 30 percent of what I make into a savings account each month.
2. Quicken: I’ve already started tracking my spending and have found Quicken to be a great help. I can see exactly where my money is going and where I can cut back.
3. Rent Textbooks: books tend to take a big chunk out of my wallet each semester. I’ve learned from friends that I can save hundreds by renting textbooks rather than buying them new or used from the book store. Even when you take into consideration what I would get at book buy-back, I will still come out ahead by renting.
4. Budget: for me, creating a budget was something my parents did. However, I plan on trying it and setting aside dedicated amounts for food, movies and other entertainment expenses. When I’m out of money for that particular category, I’ll have to wait until next month. I’m hoping this helps me become more conscious of my choices. Coupons, such as home decorators coupon and retail coupon, can also help me to buy stuffs I want paying (considerably) less.
5. $20 Rule: this one goes along with the budget plan above. I plan on putting $20 in my pocket when I go out and taking nothing else with me but my ID. For me, this amounts to $20 a week since I only go out on Saturday night. When my $20 is gone, I’m done. For me, it is way too easy to pull out my debit card and keep the night rolling.
6. Dining Card: my parents pay for my dining card and, admittedly, they are wasting their money. I eat out far more than I eat in the dining hall. This will be changing. The dining hall has decent food and it’s already paid for. Eating ‘in’ will save me quite a bit of money.
7. Bicycle: next semester I’ll be leaving the car at home. Realistically, I don’t use it and am paying to park a car that I can park for free at home. Biking to class, work and activities is environmentally friendly and free.
8. Host Get-togethers: rather than hitting the town on the weekends, I plan on hosting get-togethers in my dorm room and am encouraging friends to do the same. Socializing should be about the people we are with, not the places we go.
9. Credit Cards: I did make the freshman mistake of signing up for student credit cards. I currently have two. I’ll be leaving these at home with mom and dad to avoid temptation.
10. Activities: my campus hosts movie nights on the quad when weather permits and has a ton of other free activities to take part in. I’ll be checking these out next semester and finding things to do that cost me absolutely nothing.
I don’t want to graduate college in a mountain of debt. If I can control my spending I’ll have nothing to worry about. Are you with me?
Photo credits: College St – Not so good panning shot by -Kenzie-/flickr;
Peter Harrington is a career counselor and content contributor for Top Online Colleges, a great source for tons of information on expanding your education, from top online colleges for nursing to School Counseling degrees.