College is a time of incredible excitement, adventure, exploration and newly found independence for young people. College students are easily swayed by trends and by peer pressure, and that is a combination that can lead an unsuspecting student down a troubled path, if they aren’t careful. Learning to be fiscally responsible is every bit as important as the book learning that college students do in the classroom.
While it may be easy to expect mom and dad to bail a student out of their own financial irresponsibility, there may come a time when that won’t happen. A student who believes that they can be frivolous with money during their time at college is going to have a very rough time adapting to real life. Moreover, it can be incredibly scary to wind up in a position where you have to have money for an emergency, but because of your own irresponsibility, you don’t.
Lets look at some creative ways by which students can reduce their spending so that they can increase the amount of money they save.
*Create a budget –
Creating a budget is something that adults have to do in every phase of their independent lives. Getting a jump start on learning this as a college student will be every bit as valuable as the things you learn in the classroom, and perhaps more so. The first thing to do is determine what expenses are absolutely essential. That money is already committed to bills, so you cannot spend that money.
*Establish a budget for going out with friends –
Set a limit on what you can spend when you go out with your friends on weekends. If you spend your allowed funds in one night, then tough luck. You will have to hang out at the dorm, your apartment or figure out something you can do for free. If you see this happening enough times, it may force you to be more careful.When you feel like you want to purchase something, weigh the importance of that purchase, and consider what you would have to sacrifice in order to make the purchase.
*Set priorities –
Being financially responsible means having to set priorities. When you can’t afford to buy everything you want, eat out when you want, go out partying or other things, you will have to set priorities. You can’t eat out and expect to be able to go out for a night on the town. You may not be able to go out drinking with friends if you want to buy some article of clothing. Decide what is more important and stick to that decision.
*Analyze your expenditures –
The best way to determine where you are spending unnecessary money is by forcing yourself to keep track of everything you spend money on. Look at every expenditure you make. Don’t ignore the little things. How many times do you casually purchase a latte or other gourmet coffee without thinking about the money you are spending on it? How often do you and your friends go out to eat, order pizza, go out to bars and spend $30 – $50 or more in a weekend, just because you went out drinking or sprung for pizza or something else?
*Stay away from credit cards –
One of the fastest ways by which college kids can get themselves into a heap of financial trouble is by getting lured in by campus credit card offers. They fail to realize that what they think they owe is less than what they actually owe. Consequently, by not paying the full balance every month, they are incurring substantial additional debt in the form of interest rates. This is such a serious problem that it leads some young people to have to declare bankruptcy.
*Avoid eating out unnecessarily –
There is no excuse for a college student who lives in the dorms to eat out. There is no excuse for any college student to waste money eating out on a regular basis. Eating out once in a while for a treat is fine. Eating out because you don’t want to go to the dorm at the times during which meals are served is nothing short of irresponsible. If you are used to eating out a lot and are spending a lot of money on it, consider forcing yourself to scale this back to once a week, once every two weeks or once a month.
If you live off campus and eat out because you don’t want to traipse home for lunch, quit doing that. There is no reason why you can’t pack a lunch and bring it to campus. Purchase an insulated lunch bag and put your lunch in the bag. Purchase a drink, if you must, but limit your spending on food on campus to a drink with your lunch. If they have something special you like like frozen yogurt, bring you own drink and use the money you would have spent on the drink to treat yourself.
*A jar for change –
Get yourself an old glass jar or anything else you can use to keep change in. Collect that loose change that you have and then go to the bank to cash it in on a regular basis. It could be monthly, ever few months, or whatever is convenient. You can put this extra change in a savings account to use for an emergency fund or anything else you might need.
If you are really careful, creative and thrifty, by the time you graduate from college, you may actually have saved enough money to help yourself purchase a car, get your own place or do something else you deem important. The point is that you will have shown yourself, your parents and your friends that you learned to be responsible enough to take control over your financial spending. Just keep up the habits you’ve developed because they are just as important after college as they were while you were in college.