Budget Hater

3 Financial Tips for College

Posted by Aaron Coleman
Aug 16, 2013

3 Financial Tips for College         

This time of year can very happy for some.  Young adults going off to college for the first time, excited about the new and challenging experiences ahead.   It can also be very hard for some.  Parents letting their kids leave the nest and out of their care can be the hardest thing they have ever gone through. 

It can also be a very stressful time.  Paying for college is downright expensive.  Most kids and parents find themselves in a position to adhere to a very strict budget to make it.  Here are three financial tips to help make those budget dollars last until May 2014:

1) Buy used.  I don’t know of any other marketplace that sells more used items in good condition (not excellent – but good) than a college town.  Young people are constantly entering and leaving, making a healthy marketplace for great used items.  Some items to consider buying used:

    • Books.  Buying a textbook brand new should be a last resort.   Look at buying on Craigslist, eBay, local classifieds, campus news boards, etc.  Even the campus bookstore sells used textbooks.  This will save you hundreds of dollars.
    • Furniture.  Couches, coffee tables, kitchen tables, silverware, etc…  College town thrift stores are goldmines.  Craigslist can also be very effective.  Throw a clean sheet over the couch and voila!  Clean couch.
    • Recreational equipment.  College is a fun place to pick up new hobbies.  Buy used equipment and find out if you like the new hobby before spending a bunch of cash on something new.

2) Ditch the car.  I know this might not be an option for some.  But for many, having a car in college is a wasted expense.  Most campuses charge a hefty fee to park.  However, most colleges are easily accessible on foot, bike or bus.  Again, I know this won’t work for everyone, but it is certainly worth looking into.  The money you will save on insurance, gas, maintenance and parking can add up to a substantial amount.

3) Shop and cook.  Many in college simply find the convenience of fast food restaurants too alluring to pass up.  Not only is this expensive, it’s not very good for you.  I am not saying to give up the fries altogether, but if you are trying to save money, shopping at the local grocery store and packing a lunch can save you hundreds over the semester. 

If you find yourself starting your day and the local coffee shop buying a muffin, bottle of water and a coffee – that’s $6.00 a day (at least).  That’s $30 a week.  That same $30 could make for a much more enjoyable weekend if you ate at home first thing in the morning.

As a side note, most freshmen are usually associated with some type of meal plan on campus.  If this is the case, make sure you actually eat there and not the Taco Bell across the street.

Here’s wishing a great year of success to all the college students this year.  Have fun, learn lots and finish on budget.

Aaron Coleman  

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