Life in college remains one of the most unforgettable and refreshing experiences. It presents just as many challenges as it does fun. Whether just walking past a McDonalds or KFC and feeling like popping in briefly for a bite, or hanging out with friends on a night out, or even staying indoors to do some reading, the options never seem to end. But the most important consideration to make in either of these options is the financial one. As a kid, I was told it is lots easier spending money one doesn’t work for, than spending that, which one actually toils for. That technically remains true. Most students, especially those on Student loans, grants, scholarships, and family support find it lots easier spending money, especially as they do not get to make the money themselves. This is not to say students on self-support are not that generous either. Students would be students, no matter their standing and financial position. But a few tips can prove vital to helping college students save money.
One of the greatest expenditures of a college student besides tuition fees, is living costs. Accommodation, feeding, books, leisure and entertainment, clothes, and travel, are some of the key expenditures here. Knowing how to manage each of these can be pivotal to the success of any student.
The first is accommodation. Students living in private accommodation must pay rents. Even those living on-campus still must make a similar payment. A college student must choose where to live. The kind of lifestyle a student wishes to live determines the choice here. A student with a lavish lifestyle for example may want to live next to the town center where he/she will have easy access to shops, restaurants, and other such facilities. How much a student gets to save on accommodation therefore depends on this choice. It may be a wise idea to live in shared accommodation. This way, the rent and bills get shared evenly among the house/roommates, or on any agreed proportions. However, the right house and/or roommates must be chosen if this option is applied. Preferably, mates should be at the same level or on the same course, and share similar interests. This almost perfectly synchronises study, sleeping, and entertainment times. Another option will be to live in an area or neighbourhood with relatively affordable accommodation. However, this must not be too far away from the college as to necessitate extra expenditures on transport. While therefore looking to cut accommodation costs in this way, other considerations like transport facilities, security, and overall accessibility of the area must be considered.
The next category is feeding. I remember finding it really difficult giving up on fast food in my college days, for two simple reasons: it was really ‘fast food’, and spared me the time I would otherwise have used cooking, for my books; it was just so appealing, and addictive. It took me quite a while before I realised how much I could have been saving had I just taken the time to do get weekly food supplies, and cook my own food. It may be a time-consuming process, but it pays off pretty well when viewed in terms of savings to be made, and even satisfaction of eating one’s own food. Besides who could tell what went on in those fast-food kitchens? The quality, sanity, and health contents of the food remains nothing but a boast on paper only; but in practice, no one will like to know the several processes the ready-made food they eat goes through. Not only for financial reasons therefore, it is good for one to prepare his/her food for health reasons as well. Preferably make a list of food needs, depending on personal choice and/or preferences of house or roommates if applicable, pop into a supermarket or local shop, fill up a basket following the list, pay, get home, and do some proper cooking. This will work perfectly well with an organised student, who can plan accordingly and follow a strict time table of study, cooking, leisure and entertainment times.
The next expenditure category is books. Every student strives to, by one means or the other get good grades and results. The perfectly ethical way to go about this however is by studying hard. Recommended texts should be bought, course and homework done and in time, and extra reading done out of college hours, preferably in advance of lessons. Rather than buy brand new books however, used or second-hand books could be bought from graduating students, or from book shops, or even from websites like Amazon and e-bay depending on which offers the most competitive rates. However, though students must make sure they get the best bargain from buying used books, they must make sure they get the most current editions of the books. Also, even if books are supplied by the college as part of the tuition fees, any serious student will not rely solely on the recommended text, but do a bit more research from other books on the same subject. It will be a good idea to actually buy and own some of these additional books and study material, and this is where the strategy makes a difference to how much will be spent or saved.
The next big spend is leisure and entertainment. While it remains a pretty much vital part of student life to relax, and have fun, how often a student chooses to do these depends on his/her outlook on life, earlier lifestyle, and company. Closely related to leisure and entertainment is travel. Students should ask themselves, and answer, ‘is this really necessary?’.There usually will be spare time at the disposal of most students. Students however differ on how they spend this time. Some spend their free time studying, others do part-time work, others volunteer, and yet others club, drink, travel, and hang out with friends. The latter choices of course require money. If a student chooses to spend his/her free time studying, volunteering, or even working part-time, he/she can save the money that will have been spent otherwise had the choice been to club, travel, or in general, have fun. Considering that peer pressure influences most students into doing these things, it will be wise to choose one’s friends with careful thought and scrutiny. Making the wrong choice can mean more time doing more unproductive and money-consuming activities, and less time engaging in more productive and money-generating, or money-saving activities. Fashion also is largely influenced by the surrounding. But college students must not just spend on clothing and shoes because that is what is en vogue, but spend on these because of their need.e.g. on winter clothing. It therefore is a good idea for any student not to bow to the pressures of the surrounding, but to make spending decisions on the basis of need, not heed, or greed.