On a college campus you’ll hear the phrase “I’m broke” almost as much as “Let’s hangout.” Instead of missing out on the fun, know what expenses to expect and how to handle them with proven tips from a college senior.
Food. Surviving off the omnipresent free pizza sounds fiscally responsible, until you’ve gained the “freshman fifteen” and have to buy an entire new wardrobe. Not smart. Instead follow these tips to become a fiscally savvy foodie:
- Master the microwave. Think it’s just for popcorn and oatmeal? How about egg white & cheese breakfast sandwiches, sour cream & onion veggie chips, enchiladas, or chocolate peanut butter mug cakes? Yes, you can make all of those in your microwave in just minutes.
- Restaurants. Appetizers qualify as meals. Your friends won’t think you’re weird when your sizzling cheesy stuffed mushrooms fill you up at half the cost of their boring old pasta.
- Download it now. Apps like Hooked and Pocket Points offer sweet deals on meals around town. And as a bonus you’ll skip the “where do you want to go?” conversation, because you’ll know where the deals are being offered.
Clothes. The free t-shirts only get you so far.
- Most of us go to college for one reason…to launch a career. In hopes of getting hired, the proper attire is necessary. If you go to a school in the middle of nowhere (or in the middle of corn fields, like me), hit the mall in your hometown to avoid spending hundreds at the one boutique in town that sells suits.
- Besides starting a career, college is an opportunity to grow socially. Your booked social schedule is bound to include formals, parties, and chill hangouts. Understand the power of sale racks + planning ahead. Favorite store holding a mid-summer sale, but your formal is not until December? Hit that sale! You might just find an on-point outfit at a serious discount.
Health. Mama can’t bring you chicken noodle.
- Vitamins – when you’re stressed out the immune system doesn’t work as efficiently. Give it a boost with vitamin c tablets or powder mix, especially during finals.
- If I had known the difference between the hospital and urgent care entrances, I could have saved $4,000 my sophomore year. Find out in advance where to go if you get sick.
Travel. Whether it’s a studying abroad in Prague or interning for the summer in Spain, you are going to have the opportunity to travel at a reduced cost. Travel now because once you enter the working world it’s unheard of to take six weeks off to explore Europe with your pals.
- Experience crystalline oceans, historic cathedrals, and impeccable food by saving for the cost of your trip ahead of time.
- Apply to study abroad grants or scholarships to cover the costs of your adventure.
- Track the exchange rate and exchange your money when the dollar is strongest
Surprises. With jobs to work, socials to attend, laundry to fold, and classes to study for, sometimes we slip up. Add all that responsibility to the fact that our brains aren’t even fully developed yet, and you are bound to have an expensive mistake every now and then.
- Add an “oops” category to your budget. When your month goes smoothly (YAY! Look at you being all grown-up!) you can use a little bit of the money to treat yourself. Put the rest away, so when the big “OOPS” moment occurs you are prepared.
These tips will take you from “I’m broke” to “let’s hang-out” in no time. You’ll be eating well, looking stylish, feeling good, and traveling the world in no time.
This essay was written by FTWCCU member, Alexandra Bello. Alexandra is a senior at Texas A&M and studying business management.