I’m sure we’ve all heard the stereotype of being a “broke college kid” a million times over. I’ll admit, I rolled my eyes quite a few times when adults tried to tell me to make smart money decisions the summer before I entered university.
Me? Needing to make smart money decisions? The girl who, at the time, was working two jobs simultaneously and raking in 50 hour weeks? No, there’s definitely no way I was going to become the typical college student living off of ramen noodles and cheap takeout.
But seven months and many dents to the bank account later, here I am. And if I’m correct, I’m guessing most of us are in a similar position.
With the newfound independence of living on our own also came the tough realization that everything our parents had extra of in the cupboard we now need to buy for ourselves.
All in all, college is expensive. Much more so than I, at least, was anticipating. To combat these unexpected costs, I’ve compiled a few tips to ensure college students can remain in good financial standing until mid-May.
Limit your meals out
For starters, I’m sure we can all be better about eating out slightly less. Freshmen, utilize those dining halls more often. Brave the long lines and sometimes mediocre food. I promise you’ll survive … and be richer for it.
For any students without a set meal plan, don’t be afraid of the grocery store. Being intentional with your purchases will prove to be very beneficial. Buying meals — or ingredients to prepare a legitimate meal — instead of only stocking up on quick snacks will not only be more versatile throughout the week but keep you full longer, therefore preventing you from spending more on additional food.
Utilize free transportation options
Now, let’s think beyond food. A huge expenditure I’ve experienced has been on transportation. This is where the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) bus passes the university provides come in handy. Free to students, obtaining a bus pass ensures you at least have the option of a costless trip somewhere.
Of course, there will always be a time and place for getting an Uber, especially if you’re in a rush. But there are plenty of times when you could save yourself some cash and simply check the bus schedule.
Take advantage of student discounts
The final tip I have is to utilize that student discount whenever and wherever you can. Countless places ranging from restaurants, to clothing stores, to online sites have deals for students. Even a simple 10% off your purchase for being a registered college student will help significantly long term.
AMC Theatres, Levi’s and Madewell are among several other chains with locations near campus that offer Madison students various discounts — something we all might as well benefit from during our four years here on campus.
By starting off small and making more money-conscious choices, we can all prevent the textbook definition of a broke college student from becoming a reality.