So you are in college now, and chances are pretty high that your money situation is less than ideal. Welcome to the ranks of poor college students everywhere.
Being in school, even if you’re not enrolled full-time, is all-consuming. Between going to class, doing homework and projects, writing papers and studying for tests, there is little time for much else. On top of that, in order to pay for school and things like food, clothing and rent in many cases, you have to work.
While some still live at home with parents, many others have apartments and are often found lacking in the cash department. Going to school doesn’t exactly leave your schedule open for a full-time job, and even if you have one, without the education you are currently pursuing, the jobs available to you are more than likely going to offer minimum wage or only slightly more.
So how do you survive when everything costs money?
Start with a budget, and then get creative.
First, you have to make sure your bills are paid (If you want to save the most on these check out energy saving websites). Rent, insurance, car payments, credit cards, and things like the water and electric bills all need to be paid first. If you are having a hard time affording those, you may have to go without cable, a data package for your cell phone, and new clothes, electronics, and food out at restaurants for a while. It doesn’t sound fun, but that’s where getting creative comes in.
If you save 10 percent of everything you make, it doesn’t seem like too much when you are placing that money aside, but it adds up pretty quickly and enables you to buy things you could not otherwise afford, such as a new iPhone or a cute new bag.
Food tends to take over more of your money than you probably realize. If you are eating at fast food restaurants, on campus at the Freudian Sip or at food trucks, buying snacks from vending machines and going to Starbucks a few times a week, it all adds up, leaving you without money for a majority of the food you need.
Try shopping for your food and snacks and bringing food with you instead of buying as you go. A typical vending machine snack costs a dollar or two, but if you buy a box of granola bars or fruit snacks, you will pay only 20 to 35 cents per item. Likewise, a banana at Starbucks costs a dollar, but if you buy them from Trader Joe’s, you can get five bananas for that dollar.
It’s easy to make your own food and save money that way, but saving when you want to add variety to your wardrobe can feel impossible. Secondhand stores are a good option, but many people don’t want to go on a hunt for something decent or they feel weird about wearing a stranger’s clothes.
Instead, organize a clothing swap party. Get a bunch of friends together and have everyone bring five items of clothing or accessories that they no longer wear or want. Put all the items on display, and then take turns picking out new items, drawing numbers to see who gets to choose first. Everyone walks away with something new, and best of all: you have fun while saving money.
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