Budgeting 101

The class you’ll never take.

by GILLIAN FOLLETT ★ FEB. 18, 2019

For most college students, the idea of sticking to a budget usually goes out the window toward the end of the semester. It gets harder to settle for dining hall food. You start running out of the snacks and beauty supplies your parents sent you to college with. Staying on campus every weekend starts to lose its appeal. But the costs of meals out, shopping trips and paying for Uber add up fast. Soon enough, you find yourself blowing through your savings faster than you made them.

Here are five tips to help you make the most of college without going broke.

1. Make the most of your student discount.

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Take advantage of your student ID while you still can. Use it at a range of stores and restaurants; get a free drink at restaurants like Chipotle and Chick-Fil-A, and discounts up to 15 percent at stores like J. Crew, Eddie Bauer and Topshop. There are dozens of stores that offer student discounts, and every little bit of money you save adds up. Sign up for Unidays, an app which houses all student discounts and codes virtually.

2. Walk instead of Ubering.

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Need to run to the mall? Save the money you would have spent on an Uber and take SU’s bus services. The system takes students downtown and to Destiny Mall for under $2 during the week, and is free on Friday and Saturday. There are also free buses to Wegmans and Target every other Sunday, so you can stock up on snacks without paying to get there. Even though it may be tempting to Uber everywhere, especially with the colder weather, keep in mind that using Uber adds up fast – and walking adds an extra workout!

3. Control your shopaholic urges.

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When you’re out shopping with friends or you see a sale at your favorite store online, it can be hard to control yourself from buying every cute dress you see. Impulse buys are detrimental to a college budget. So it’s important to think about the item and ask yourself if it will be valuable to you before walking up to the cash register or confirming your purchase online. Obviously, treating yourself on occasion is okay, but don’t let it get out of hand. Try bringing a friend along who is good at talking you out of impulse buys. You’ll thank yourself later, when you have money set aside for more important things, like spring break trips or studying abroad.

4. Set a budget and stick to it.

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Whether it’s weekly or monthly, limiting yourself to only spending a certain amount of money is a surefire way to avoid breaking the bank. Keeping track of your spending habits helps stop you from splurging when you can’t afford it. It’s helpful to keep track of how much you spend either on paper or in an Excel spreadsheet, since it allows you to see how much you’re really spending.

5. Cut back on store-bought coffee and bottled water.

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This can be difficult for a lot of people, especially when getting your coffee fix at Starbucks or Dunkin’ is part of your daily schedule. However, buying coffee everyday adds up fast, and it’s super easy to make coffee at home! Investing in a coffee maker or a Keurig will save you tons of money in the long run, and you can still treat yourself to Starbucks every now and then. Bottled water is also an unnecessary expense, and it’s bad for the environment on top of that. Buying a cheap refillable water bottle is much more cost-effective and better for the planet.

College is already expensive enough on its own, so keeping a budget is essential to keeping yourself from breaking the bank! These tips are only a few of the many ways that you can start managing your money better. Trust me- your wallet will thank you!

Tayler Bradford