Whether you live on campus or outside, life in college is an eye-opener to the real costs of living, given that you are now responsible for most of your own basic necessities and other related expenses. You have to take care of buying food, toiletries, medication, school supplies as well as managing your social life on very limited funds.
Most students in college care little for the future and don’t mind spending huge amounts just to fit in and have a good time. Now, if you’re using money you have, it’s alright; the danger comes with piling up mountains of debt in order to sustain a lifestyle far above your earning ability, or just to fit in with your friends.
Many a financial situations that adults find themselves in during later years can be traced to careless spending habits when they were much younger. If you want to get a head-start on a healthy financial future, you need to curb your spending by finding ways to save, like by creating a budget.
Now, this is not to say you can’t have a good time; you can still enjoy a fairly active social life, provided you do so cleverly. Below are a few tips to get your started.
- Avoid using your credit cards
At all costs, avoid charging your credit card more than you can pay back in any month. Credit cards are not free passes to a good time; they are loans which are supposed to be paid back at exceedingly high interest rates. Do not use your credit card to purchase consumables, like picking up bar/restaurant tabs, dry cleaning or gas, which leave you with nothing to show for except accumulated debt.
If you must, use credit cards to buy must-have assets that you cannot afford to live without, such as laptops for school work. At the end of the day, you’ll have something in hand to show for your accumulated debt, and are less likely to let it lapse.
- Basic needs then entertainment
Life in college can make you think friends are everything, but they’re not. If you must choose between settling your credit card debt and going out with some friends, stay at home and make your payments. It’s good to have fun, but not at the expense of your future financial wellbeing. Get your priorities in order and be ready to make hard choices every now and again.
- Avoid alcohol
You’ll gain much more from opting for soft drinks instead of alcohol when going out. They are cheaper and healthier and you don’t have to worry about nasty hangovers. Alcohol is really expensive, particularly those mixed cocktails. Volunteer to be the designated driver, which makes you cool in your friends’ eyes and allows you to make your savings without foregoing the fun.
- Use coupons
Don’t be afraid to collect and redeem your coupons. Many retail outlets have coupons and special offers you can take advantage of. While small on their own, coupons add up to significant savings over the long term and you may be lucky to land those huge discounts when the stores have promotions running.
- Go for matinees
Matinee movie tickets are cheaper and you can watch the same show for much less. It’s also less crowded and parking is easily available. Spend as little as possible at the snacks stand, which usually has premium prices.
- Host barbeques
The main reason people in college go out is to hang out with friends. If you’re not on campus, why not have the same group at your house, and ask attending friends to contribute to the cost of snacks and drinks? This way you make savings on drinks and transportation.