After what felt like endless months of campaigns, advertisements, debates and annoying social media posts all over your news feed, the election is finally right around the corner! The topic of interest at the top of everyone’s list? The nation’s debt. The topic that hits even closer to home? The student debt crisis.
Not only is tuition continually rising all over the country, financial aid and grants are stalling. Over the past decade, the number of federal loan borrowers nearly doubled. Economists are even calling the student debt crisis the biggest economic issue in America today. We freak out about the trillions of dollars in debt our country faces; what about the trillion dollars in debt college kids are facing?
Fear not. Luckily, I’m an eternal optimist and a self-proclaimed cheapskate, so I’m making it my American duty to try to help a fellow collegiette out in these trying times. Here is a broke girl’s guide to dealing with our everyday debt crisis in 15 simple tips.
Skip Starbucks. According to my Instagram feed, a college student enters a Starbucks about every three photos. I know–OMG–it’s Pumpkin Spice Latte season and I’m probably committing some sort of sin by encouraging you to deprive yourselves of such deliciousness, but it’s adding up! Say you get a four dollar fancy drink every morning, that’s $420 you’re spending in one semester! Instead, buy a coffee maker. You’ll save cash and the unnecessary calories.
Keep the change. I understand we’re technically adults now, but it’s time to dust off your old piggy banks and start loading ‘em up. If you’re too cool for a porcelain pig, slice a hole in the top of a mason jar and whenever you find random change lying around, drop it in. It’s borderline effortless and you’ll be amazed to see how much it adds up. Extra broke girl tips: Don’t empty it until it’s full. Add it yourself or deposit in your bank account to try to avoid using change counter machines that’ll slap on extra fees.
Prioritize. This way, you can splurge when you need to. For example, I don’t go out to bars or clubs so I can save money for concert tickets. For you, it may be the opposite circumstance. The money you save from prioritizing can be used for something you really love to do. Pick your poison.
Compare prices on textbooks. A new semester is creeping upon us, and for the love of all that is holy, do not buy new books unless absolutely necessary. For those pesky professors that make you buy the brand spankin’ new edition of the book, you’re out of luck. Otherwise, rent or buy them used! Chegg and Amazon are great to find discounted textbooks.
Sign up for restaurant emailing lists. While they may clog up your email inbox, every once in awhile they send a little morsel of hope. Also known as discounts and coupon codes. I’ve gotten so many free meals due to putting up with emailing lists. The Tijuana Flats emailing list is especially great.
Movie buff? Sign up for the theater’s rewards card. Only go to matinee showings and be sure to ask for student discounts and flash your beloved UCF ID. Try to avoid the overpriced snacks and drinks sold in the lobby.
Buy knock offs. Unless you hang out with a certified label sleuth, relax. No one actually notices or cares.
Craft gifts. The holiday season is coming up and with Pinterest at your fingertips, it’s time to bite the bullet and actually make some of the things you’ve been pinning for months. This way, you save loads of money and can bust out a bunch of gifts at one time! Plus, people love personalized gifts. Play it off like you wanted to do something really creative and personal instead of the true reason…you’re broke.
Be thrifty. Our generation is so lucky that the worn-in, homeless-chic look is in right now. Take advantage of it and explore thrift stores. Plus, you can sound really cool and trendy when someone asks where your “new” outfit is from.
Take advantage of free events around campus. There’s usually an outdoor movie screening planned within every few weeks. “Like” UCF Campus Activities Board (CAB) on Facebook to keep updated with free upcoming events!
DIY salon. You don’t really need your nails done professionally every five seconds. Do it yourself. You’re probably too indecisive to commit to a nail color for more than a week anyways. Ok, maybe that’s just me.
Avoid impulse buys. We’re not magicians here. I know that something will just drop down directly from the heavens and suddenly you feel like you must have it right then and there. For me, it usually comes in shoe form. Before you take the dive, sleep on it. Will you really want it in a week? A month? Avoiding impulse purchases help you decide if it’s a want or a need.
Make shopping lists. Keep your eyes on the prize and stick to the list.
Shop alone. We all have friends who are way too encouraging in our spending. So, if you have to go shopping, go alone. The lack of reassurance on every item you try on will make you consider your purchases and you’ll probably only walk out with things you’re in love with. Probably.
Only use your credit card for emergencies. Ok, I know I sound like a parent now. But seriously, you will regret it if you get caught up in credit card fever. Take that piece of plastic and stay away. Stay far, far away.