Keeping up with your course work and studying for mid-terms is stressful enough but the rest of your student life doesn’t have to be. You can make your time in college a little easier if you follow some advice from those that have been there. Below are a few tips and tricks that might be helpful to you over the course of your college stay.
Room and Board Advice
Living and eating at college obviously gets expensive, but as with all things, there are ways around the large sticker cost of your school’s recommended meal plan or your housing choices.
If you go to a college that grades its housing prices, you ought to select a less-expensive housing option. Find somewhere that’s affordable, livable and comfortable, but won’t break the bank.
A common money-saving housing option is the double-edged sword of the forced triple. The forced triple is a pretty self-explanatory setup: three people in a room for two. Schools will usually refund you a substantial amount of your housing bill if you volunteer to live in a forced triple, so if you don’t mind being a little cozy and having two roommates, then a forced triple is a good money-saving possibility.
- Bring Tupperware and a backpack every time you go to your dining hall. Take a few containers and fill them up with whatever strikes your fancy, from fresh fruit to hummus or a few buffalo wings. Keep your room constantly stocked with things you can snack on, and, compliments of the dining hall, your meal plan worries will be over.
- If your dining system is points-based, stay away from the expensive stuff, like $3 bottles of Smartwater.
- Going out to eat is great, but it’s something to be saved for a special occasion.
- When you do go out to eat, order water instead of a soda.
- When alcohol and other substances come into play, control your appetite. Not only is munching under the influence a good way to waste an awful lot of money, it’s a good way to pack on the Freshman 15.
- Most dorms have communal kitchens. Learn to cook. Or if you’re too lazy to cook, learn to love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like you’re in elementary school again.
- Go to events that have free food.
On-Campus Jobs Help Financially and Socially
When entering college as a freshman you might ask yourself if you should apply for a part-time job on or near campus. If the income from a part-time job is already included in your first year budget, then answer is an obvious yes. However, even if you don’t need the extra cash for paying for your course textbooks, morning coffees or decoration for your dorm room, a job on campus is great for your social life. With that said, if you fall into the later category, it is advised to wait a semester before seeking a job. Most agree the incoming students need to get used to the campus and rigors of academic life before entertaining thoughts of employment.
“the money was great, but it also allowed me to meet new friends and stay connected to student life.”
If you’re concerned about your class schedules or studying for finals and wondering if adding a job will make student life a bit too stressful, take note that many employers work around a student’s class schedules. For example, during finals, they would redo the schedule or allow you to switch shifts with other employees. If you have a final on Thursday they won’t make you work on Wednesday night.
Possible part-time jobs might include:
- Coffee shops
- Print/shipping shops
- Restaurants or food carts
- Clothing and apparel
- Clerical work
- Movie theaters
Work Study Jobs might be found in:
- Recreation rooms
- Lunchroom cafeterias
- Dinning halls
- Administration offices
- Library services
- Custodial and maintenance
- Athletic events
Shopping and saving in college
Many college students love shopping, but more often than not, it results in unnecessary expenses. Shopping can be fantastic, to be sure, but it’s a great way to throw away money, and we’re trying to save.
If you break down typical college expenses, starting off with the essentials (tuition, room and board) then moving to some standard personal spending (eating off-campus, money for weekends), shopping for clothes and other relatively frivolous stuff falls far out of the realm of accepted expenses.
Depending on your budget, shopping can be something that’s an OK occasional indulgence, but if you’re trying to be frugal on a college budget, shopping can really burn through any cushion of cash you might have. Even if you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, you don’t really need to shop, and while a new pair of jeans is way more exciting than an Econ textbook, the textbook is more important.
Prioritize your money. Learn how to window shop; that’s fun, and while it might kill you to not buy something you fall in love with, remember – you’re a college student. You can’t afford it.
If you’re going to ignore this advice every now and then, shop at places where you can get discounts. Edhance is a great tool for college students. It’s a program that offers student discounts and/or cash back when you shop at retailers who are partnered with Edhance. Membership in the program is totally free – you just sign up at Edhance.com, and your credit or debit card will connect with Edhance. Every time you purchase something through an Edhance retailer, you automatically receive that discount or cash back.
You have far more important things to spend money on than a new pair of shoes, like your education and your future. Be smart!