In addition to planning for all of the usual college expenses, such as tuition, room and board, and books, college students need to put together a budget for their “spending money” during the school year that includes those unexpected costs of college such as eating out, personal hygiene items, transportation expenses, sorority/fraternity dues, and any other expenses associated with joining a club or organization. Will this money come from graduation gifts, an allowance, or funds earned over the summer? And what can college students do to help offset these expenses? Here are a few ideas:
• Sign up for e-mail coupons from stores that you frequent. You don’t need to fool with printing them. Just take your phone with you and give the sales associate the code when you’re checking out.
• Make use of free on-campus amenities, such as gyms and on-campus events that offer things like free food or free concerts.
• Take advantage of student discounts.
• Get a part-time job. You can earn extra dollars and boost your resume at the same time.
• Avoid the temptation to charge it. The last thing you want to be doing is paying for college expenses well after you’ve graduated. If you don’t have the money in the bank to make a purchase, skip it. After all, the college years are all about cheap pizza, 44 cent wings night at your local downtown restaurant, and Ramen noodles. The sooner you embrace that, the better.
Remember, a simple budget that is monitored is the start of a best practice for life!
Clare Levison is a Certified Public Accountant and the author of Frugal Isn’t Cheap: Spend Less, Save More, and Live Better. Follow her on Twitter @clarelevison.