College students are often described as many things: fun, studious, adventurous, ambitious, and even irresponsible at times. While many of these qualities seem to fit the average student most are likely to agree that the term ‘wealthy’ doesn’t fit the typical college student description. During the four years as an undergrad, there is a high chance that college students will endure the trials and tribulations of money woes.
Although the problem of never having enough money may seem unavoidable, college students have the option to budget their spending in an effective way. The following areas of spending can be manageable with these tips.
Textbook Purchasing: For most students, buying pricey textbooks are sadly unavoidable. However there are ways around dropping $300 on that environmental sciences textbook. Many websites now offer new and used books for cheaper prices. Abebooks.com is one of the many sites that sell textbooks in the interest of students. Additionally, many schools allow students to rent their textbooks, which can sometimes be cheaper than buying. For those who do prefer to buy and whose schools buy back textbooks, it’s best to sell books back earlier rather than later as many bookstores will stop buying back books once they reach a certain quota.
Grocery Shopping: For some reason groceries always seem to be more expensive in college, especially for those without an on campus food plan. However, sticking to the basics such as cutting coupons and making a list of things that are actually needed will help students better prevent frivolous spending. Making sure to stock up on foods that can be preserved for longer is often crucial as well. For those who prefer to order out, many places offer students discounted prices with the use of their students ID.
Recreational Spending: Whether it’s shopping with friends on the weekends, going out to dinner or taking that spring break trip, most students will need to budget in recreational spending money. Knowing how much money to allocate for this is sometimes difficult though. It’s crucial to consider which type of recreational spending is the most important to a student and then consider ways in which they can limit that spending. For those on more of a budget, consider the overall experience in terms of money. Essentially, you are bound to remember a trip with friends over an extravagant night at the bar.
Student Loans: Although many of us may not be thinking about loans in the midst of our semesters, they can ultimately be a large factor in determining how students spend their money. Unfortunately the years following graduation are often tough financially due to the unpredictable job market. However, students who have the option to live at home should take advantage of it and allow themselves to save money. Although living at home with parents may not be the most desirable option, it can help students to avoid racking up interest on loans and at some point move out debt free. In the mean time, putting aside extra money for after college can go a long way.
In general, it’s challenging to say how much money should be set aside for each type of college spending. Stephanie Toyias who graduated from Stonehill College in 2011, suggests that in most cases students should spend money on things that really mean something and are intellectually and culturally enriching. In other words, “enjoy every minute of college and make responsible fiscal choices…don’t just throw your money away on drinking or eating out” says Toyias.
Ultimately, everyone’s financial situation is different but taking the time to plan out and consider how you spend your money can be very beneficial.