When thinking about the average college student, especially undergraduates, being poor may come to mind. Although some college undergrads may be fortunate enough to have Mommy or Daddy pay for their whole college experience, others of us college students may not be as fortunate. There are some basic things that one can to do prevent from having a negative cash flow.
Number one: get a job! No matter what it is, having a paycheck from week to week will really get the job done, even if it is only $50 to $60 a week. That could be all of your groceries for one week (or two, if you really want to find good deals), gas money to get from college campus to downtown or other places, or just money to go out and have fun! If you don’t have that many expenses and can make it without a job, then good for you! But even a simple job on campus as a professor’s helper or receptionist for University departments would bring in that extra money. And don’t worry – you don’t need to have a Federal Work-Study program to have an on-campus job. Talk to your career services department at your college to find out when the job fairs of on-campus jobs are and plan to attend!
Number Two: Even though it may be tempting to try to get a credit card from one of the people who are advertising free t-shirts or even free food, do not give in! Getting approved for a credit card and using it would mean that it will be absolutely necessary to get a job to just pay off the credit card alone! What you should remember is the credit card money is not real money; therefore, you shouldn’t spend it in the first place! If you have a bank account, talk to your bank about getting an ATM or debit card; that should be sufficient to have cash in hand when you need it.
Number Three: If you have to pass up that extra burrito or cup of coffee, by all means pass it up! Small amounts of money can add up over time. Even if you take that $2 or $3 a day that you would spend on a burrito or coffee and put it in a glass jar in your dorm room to save, by the end of the year it may mean hundreds of dollars!
Number Four: Name brands don’t mean squat! If you are grocery shopping and are picking out all the name brand items, stop immediately and re-do your grocery shopping! What you were told when you were little doesn’t matter anymore, because a Name-Brand cereal is just as good as the less expensive one sitting on the shelf next to it! In fact, buying off-brand or store brand products will actually save you more money in the long run, and you’ll get more by buying those types of brands also. You could be getting twice as much than what you’d be getting when purchasing that Name Brand, so think before buying what you have always known!
Number Five: Be creative! That may not sound like very good advice, but when it comes to saving money, can go a long way! For example, it is possible to have a box of macaroni, some bread, hotdogs, a gallon of milk, and various other random products, like muffin or cake mixes and Ramen Noodles, and make them all last you for a week to a week and a half without having to buy more groceries. All it takes is some ingenuity to figure out what you’ll have for lunch or dinner and you are set! Being creative, however, doesn’t just extend to food! Other ways of being creative include fixing your clothes when they get ripped, fixing your car yourself instead of going in for costly mechanic repairs, and staying home on the weekends sometimes instead of going out will all save you money and allow you to have more in the bank!
All of these things, if nothing else, will give you a heads up and a running start on your savings account. But if you really are in need of ways to save money because you are running on empty, then heed these tips! Many a college student has survived on little to no money per week, and you would not be the first! All it takes is a little creativity to provide you with that extra dollar to spend for much needed groceries!