As collegiettes, we know how tough it can be to deal with tuition. We’ve all heard the countless testimonies of what people have done in order to pay tuition. We’ve all put in numerous hours at a part time job, penny pinched, scoured for scholarships, sue our parents over it, etc. Wait; what? Well, we’ve all heard of the NJ teen who, in fact, did sue her parents for child support in order to pay her tuition. The story shocked our nation. As of last week, the lawsuit has been dropped and Miss Rachel Cunning has moved back in with her parents. While the story was definitely something unique, paying for an education is a dilemma that faces many. In fact, student debt is the number one debt in the country. Who hasn’t said or heard a friend say, “the struggle is real”? But no hurdle is too big to overcome!
Co-Founder of Her Campus, Windsor Hanger Western recently stopped by HCWPUNJ for our first birthday. She delivered a speech that inspired us to be the best businesswomen we could be. Her speech was full of great insight and advice on the good financial choices made by our founders. And one of her quotes stuck with us the most: “Don’t pay for anything you can get for free.”
As we return from Spring Break, registration is right around the corner so let’s avoid a hold on our accounts and promise to make conscious financial choices for the rest of the semester. Here are some financial tips that all collegiettes can use to make smarter choices and to help make paying tuition much easier.
Budget how much you spend on food.
Food is a necessity so it can be easy to not realize how much we are actually spending on food week after week. This is my personal number one financial sin. With the food court right there, your friends all buying food, and all the snacks and sweets around campus, it can (and will) all add up. Give yourself a set dollar number a day or week and try your best not to go past that. (I set $7 a day.) Choose a number for you, and if you can keep under it that’s even better! This essentially forces you to be creative on where to get food. (Also if you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, don’t just buy candy at the store; find a bake sale and support a cause!)
Give credit cards some thought before you get one (or three).
We’ve all had that encounter where we’re walking through the student center and someone stops us to ask if we’d like to open up a student credit card with a bank. While I’m not saying that you shouldn’t own a credit card, I am saying that you need to educate yourself thoroughly with how they work and come up with a solid plan on how to stay on top of payments. It can be easy to swipe and forget, but as Her Campus Co-Founder Windsor said at our first Birthday, “There is no such thing as free money.” Try your best to minimize how many credit cards you have; less is more! You’ll save money in the long run avoiding late fees and interest rates.
Those three letters are every frugal fashionista’s favorite combination of letters, and they’ve taken the fashion world by storm. I became most familiar with the method through Erica Domesek, founder of P.S.-I Made This. (I’ve been following her creations and tutorials for years now.) You say you can’t do it yourself? Of course you can! That is where the wonderful World Wide Web comes in! You can scour the Internet for tutorials on anything. Do a search on any engine or social network, (Pinterest is my fave for DIY; I’ve got my own board dedicated to it) and you are bound to find steps on how to make what you desire. From fashion to household décor to cuisine, there is so much to explore and save on by being adding some creativity to your life.
Rent, and when you can’t rent, sell back later!
We all know that renting those books for our classes is cheaper than buying them (besides, we won’t need those books after that class is over), and we’re familiar with the end of semester line in the book store to return or sell back our books . But why limit that process to just our textbooks? Apply the concept to all that you can! From living space, to furniture, to clothes you can rent just about anything. Renting an apartment with roommates can be cheaper than living in a dorm on campus. ForRent.com has a website dedicated specifically to college students looking for off campus housing called ForRentUniversity.com. After graduation it is likely that you will move, and while you may not be able to rent furniture for such a long period of time, you should still make a plan to sell your old furniture. This will help save money and energy during moving time. And as for clothes, most collegiettes have plenty of events to attend and must be presentably stylish, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. At RentTheRunway.com you can rent out a designer dress at a lower cost. You simply pick a dress, tell them your size, time frame, and address. Then they send you the dress, and you send the dress back. That $850 Badgley Mischka gown you’ve coveted? You can wear it to a formal for $80. And it isn’t limited to dresses — accessories and shoes included!
Stay on top of deadlines
It is the worst having to go to the Office of Student Accounts the day of registration because of a hold from some long-forgotten form you never filled out. Keep in mind and write down any important dates and information needed for financial aid in order for you to optimize your situation. This goes for school finances, credit card payments, bills, and just about any deadline in life. Being informed and organized will help minimize expenses and make your financial life smooth sailing.
So there you go. These are some of our best tips for being fabulously frugal. Working towards financial independence does not have to be grueling. With some determination, advice, and information, any collegiette can be on her way to financial security of her own.
(Writer’s caution: I am not a financial advisor. If you are facing serious financial hardship, please seek the help of actual professionals.)