Living Below Your Means While Attending CollegeBy Ernest Hamilton, UniversityHerald Reporter
The broke college student is one of the most common phrases around, and for good reason. The years spent in undergrad specifically can be some of the most financially bust years of a person's life. Little to no income, looming student debt, and existing but necessary bills can all contribute to the need for a very lean lifestyle during this stage. If any of this applies to you, do not feel discouraged, there are ways to tweak your budget to free up cash, and create flexibility so that you can handle all your responsibilities and even sneak in some fun while you are at it.
Some things cannot be avoided. Housing costs and transportation are two common budget categories that are essentially fixed costs. If you are involved in a car loan either a lease or with a bank, consider refinancing in order to save money. While you are going over your options, and if you are even a candidate for this, hop online and play around with a refi calculator. Plugging in the values specific to your loan, with the current interest rates applied will give you a good idea of how your monthly totals might be affected. Not all lenders will offer refinance opportunities, so going this route to create movement in your budget will take some research on your part. However, with the goal in mind of discovering how to better manage your money, the time spent researching will likely yield results that can get you there quicker.
Find the Freebies
Since college kids are synonymous with being strapped for cash, many business and corporations offer student discounts, and even freebies specifically for this demographic and usually all you need to do to partake is show your valid student ID. Taking advantage of any free goods or services that you can is going to alleviate pressure off your budget. Not specific to college students, but another money saving hack, is rewards clubs. Businesses want you to return, and to create exclusivity, so ask about frequent shopper rewards at the places you find yourself returning to. Every little bit helps, and if you are already going to buy 3 burritos a week, might as well see if your favorite spot offers an incentive to buy 2 and get the 3rd one free, or something similar.
Share the Burden
Having a limited budget does not mean you have to say no to everything that is not a responsible spend. You must still have fun, but there are smart ways to go about it. Having roommates or peers that have the same interests as you, and can help fund the fun, is a great life hack. Splitting one Netflix account, sharing the membership fee of a bulk goods store and splitting the total on those purchases as well, carpooling and pitching in for gas money, these are all simple adjustments that can make a big impact. One thing to be careful of when sharing expenses though, is putting your name on certain accounts. If payments are missed or made late, this will ultimately affect your credit individually. So, make sure that if anything is in your name that you either have the capacity to handle it responsibly should your peers back out, or that the options to cancel commitments are favorable and with little to no penalty.