For the average student, the day to day living expenses of college can be quite costly. Whether this money is spent on food, books or vices like alcohol, it can quickly put a strain on what little savings was accumulated from a part time high school job. In order to make it through college on a limited budget there are some adjustments you can make to your lifestyle that will still allow you to afford school and still have some genuine fun.
The dining hall is your friend
Depending on the layout and availability of the dining hall or halls at your college, it can be very tempting to stop by the food court or local vendor that has set up shop. It wouldn’t be difficult to spend upwards of $25 a day between breakfast lunch and dinner if you did this. Many institutions offer a meal plan included in room and board or tuition, and some may even force freshman to sign up for this plan whether you want to or not. If you’re willing to make the trek and deal with cafeteria quality food, you’ll have better odds of making it to the end of your college career with money to your name. Most of the food isn’t unbearable and will probably taste better if you know it’s saving you money.
Drink in, not out
When classes are not in session many students will find their way to the local bar or club scene which can put a huge dent in your bank account over time. Drinks at bars, especially on popular weekend nights, can go up to $15 dollars. Obviously prices like that are pretty unforgiving. If you go out a couple of times a week like a typical college student, you can mount thousands of dollars of expenses in a few short months. The key to combat this is to buy cheaper alcohol from a liquor store and have a couple of drinks before you go out. The drinks you have at home will subdue the need for you to spend money on the more expensive options out at bars. This is a simple alternative that students can take advantage of and still go out on the weekends.
Buy books after the fact
For the most part professors will provide a book list before classes begin so that students have a chance to get organized with what they need. The problem is that books can cost up to $1000 a semester depending on how many courses you’re taking. What’s worse, many times when you get through the first week of class, you figure out that you didn’t need a couple of those books and could have saved hundreds of dollars. You can avoid wasting money by simply waiting until the first day or two of class is done and asking if all the books on the list are necessary. Sometimes a professor will even admit that the book list is out of date or they changed their mind about using one. You can ask your professor early on if they’re all necessary and hopefully keep some money in your wallet this way.
By the time most college students graduate they have an empty bank account and thousands in student loan debt to boot. If you apply some simple strategies and common sense you can still have fun and get an education without going broke. In reality you just need to remember that the dining hall isn’t that bad, you can still have fun if you drink before you go out and that not every book on the list is an absolute necessity. Keeping these tips in mind will help keep a spring in your step as you head to your classes each semester.