By Alexis Rodriguez > Junior > English > Cornell University
The five most feared words to any college student: “You have over-drafted your account.” I die a little inside every time my mom calls me to utter those fateful words (which is a little too often for my liking). For some reason our bank accounts never stay full for long. I wish there was a “replenish” button we could press at the end of everything month.
Part of the problem is that as young adults we desire nothing more than to be able to do whatever we want. However, our pockets aren’t deep enough for that. We’re always hungry AFTER the dining halls close (hangover food: $20); if you go to a school like mine there is a severe lack in good clothes shopping (online retail: $50-$100); alcohol for you and your friends this weekend (booze: $70), taxi ride back to your dorm (DD: $10); the look on your face when you take a look at your balance (shock turned fear: priceless).
Until our degrees pay us back 100 fold (wishful thinking? Maybe!) we are stuck living on a college student’s salary. Becoming a successful saver is one of the most important life lessons we will ever learn. Cutting back takes self-control but it’s so much easier in the end.
Regardless of whether you’re supporting yourself through college (I commend you) or you’re fortunate enough to have mom and pops help you out, finding a job on campus is always a good idea. Most campus jobs don’t offer the highest salaries, but some money is better than no money. If it’s going towards your education/bills or if it’s just pocket change for your various (hopefully legal) hobbies the income will help a lot.
Prioritize and budget. If you really don’t NEED those new shoes or the newest iPhone, don’t splurge. Think ahead too (oh the responsibilities of being an adult!). For example, I really wanted to go to Miami for spring break to see my best friend who has an internship down there for the semester. Instead, I knew with having an unpaid internship this coming summer I need to save every penny I can until then. Alas, I’m stuck at home with my family (the horror). A little temporary sacrifice never hurt anyone.
Give yourself a goal. If there’s something you really want to do like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, then every time you see a sale or want to spend money on other unnecessary purchases, think of how sweet New Orleans is going to be. It’s also definitely OK to ask your friends to help out especially when it comes to purchases for group activities like alcohol. When several people chip in it’s so much cheaper for everyone (AHA, the beautiful laws of division).
Be smart and your money will go a long way even if it is a student salary.