If you are anything like me, financial planning is not at the top of your priorities first semester. Between making friends, adjusting to dorm living, and focusing on your new classes, you already have a lot on your plate! As a freshman, I didn’t realize that college is also a huge financial transition. You might be used to earning more money, or to your parents paying for your CVS expenses (and they are more than you think!). These changes add up, and you must make adjustments or your bank account will suffer. A little bit of planning goes along way, and I wish I could have given my freshman self the following tips:
- You have an unlimited meal plan: use it! It’s tempting to spend money at Spa and Burgess when you are on the run, but if you could get the same snacks at Dining Hall, take the extra five steps and save some cash. Freshmen have an unlimited meal plan so that they don’t have to worry about spending money on food. Take advantage of this. Occasionally, it’s a treat to go out to dinner with friends or grab a latte downtown, but don’t make it an every weekend thing if you are trying to save.
- Make the trip to Target. When it comes to your bathroom needs, the Skid Shop may be convenient, but it’s also twice as expensive as Target or CVS. Keep a shopping list, and when you are almost out of toothpaste, shampoo and gum, make a Target run with some friends to get good deals. If you’re on a budget, the trip is worth it.
- Use your coffee cards. If you’re a coffee addict like me, buying coffee at Burgess may be inevitable. However, Burgess and the Atrium offer coffee cards, which add up to a free cup of coffee for every six you buy. Most people lose their coffee cards in the depths of their wallets, but if you can keep yours on hand, you will save a lot of money over the course of the semester.
- Textbook strategies. Textbooks are ridiculously expensive. Depending on what classes you are taking, your textbook expenses could max out at $500. There are lots of ways to save money when it comes to textbooks, you just need to plan ahead! The Skid Shop offers used textbooks, which often cost half of the original price. You can also rent textbooks online, but you have to remember to send them back. The Skid Shop also has textbook buy back at the end of the semester—mark it on your calendar! Having a textbook strategy will definitely help you in the long run.
Most importantly, just be aware of your spending and save money where you can. If you plan ahead, you won’t end up in a mid-semester panic when your bank account runs dry. Financial planning may be a pain, but it’s part of the awesome and independent collegiette experience that you are about to embark on.
Happy (& careful) spending, class of 2016!