It always seems as if the beginning of the fall semester is smooth sailing. You’ve just finished your summer job, your wallet is full with three months worth of pay and your back-to-school wardrobe is up to date.
Somehow, the accumulated spending money slowly dwindles as the end of September nears, and you are a broke college-kid again by Fall Break.
You start with a lump sum of cash, but after purchasing overpriced books for classes, doing your weekly grocery shopping and making those necessary late night food runs, it seems as though your lavish lifestyle of eating out and seeing a movie on the weekends has taken a turn for the worst.
It helps when daddy can pitch in a few bucks, or when scholarships pay that last bit of tuition so you can splurge on Friday night pizza with your friends or the midnight showing of Harry Potter that you’ve been dying to see. However, many students do not have this luxury.
What I have for you are ten tips that can save you money in the long run. I must admit that I don’t always follow my own rules, but I make a point to try and save a dollar here and there.
Think about investing in a piggy bank. Many places in Fredericksburg only take cash. Buy a piggy bank to set aside your loose change so you’re never caught without.
Try renting your books this semester. Instead of actually buying your books at full price, why not rent them from an online vendor, such as chegg.com, and return them after the semester is over.
Reuse everyday items whenever you can. Buy a water bottle once a week from the vending machine and refill it as needed to save $9 a week. Better yet, go green and bring a nalgene to class every day without spending any money at all.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a favor. If you don’t have a meal plan on campus, get a friend to flex you. Warning: asking someone to flex you on a regular basis is annoying. Limit yourself to a couple times a month to avoid being labeled a moocher, or even worse, cheap.
I have one word for you: coupons. If I had a dime for every time I had a coupon in my wallet and forgot to use it, I’m certain I would be a very rich girl.
According to a WHNT 19 news article, an Alabama woman saves 75 percent on her grocery bill every week just by using coupons. A North Carolina mom reportedly saves $4,000 a year by using coupons according to WTAE-TV and ThePittsburghChannel.com.
I would suggest walking to campus whenever possible. If you live even remotely close to school, walking can save you money on gas— not to mention, with the terrible parking situation, it will likely keep you from paying $25 or more for a dreaded parking ticket.
Let’s be honest, alcohol is expensive so “pre-game” is probably a word most of you know fairly well. For those of you that are of age, I would suggest a few pre-bar cocktails before leaving the house. This way you buy only one six dollar drink at the bar instead of three.
Make an effort to keep a list. If you happen to have a shopping addiction, like myself, make it a habit to plan your shopping trips with a list of things that you need and a list of things that you want. If you get everything you need and still have money left over, go ahead and buy one thing off of your want list. Save the list and follow the same routine during your next trip.
When someone suggests seeing a movie, make it a Redbox night. It blows my mind every time I go to the movies and end up spending $20 before I even purchase popcorn or a drink. In this situation, Redbox is your best friend. Although the movie choices are often not new releases and the selection is limited, for $1 and an additional two dollars for a bag of microwavable popcorn, the movies can come to you.
Why not do as your parents do and host a dinner party? If you’re anything like most college students, you hate to cook. Getting friends together for a Sunday potluck can save you time and money. Invite friends over and have everyone bring their favorite dish. This way, you spend money on your own dish but get to enjoy what everyone else brought. By the way, make sure that since you hosted the party, they do the dishes. It’s only fair.
If you follow these simple tips and I can almost guarantee your wallet won’t feel as light and your money worries will become few-and-far between.