As a college student going to school in a tough economy, I’ve made it a personal goal to graduate with as much money saved as possible. How do I intend to pull this off? After all, it seems like everyone these days is completing college either broke or in debt. My answer is simple… In addition to working year round, I’ve done my best to avoid the following spending habits.
1. Always buying new
When you’re in college (and even after you graduate) you shouldn’t be purchasing everything new. You should look for used textbooks, used furniture, and even used school supplies. Take a look around a college bookstore. In many cases, new textbooks now sell for over $100. That’s an awful lot of money, especially considering that most students take upwards of five courses per semester.
Likewise, when you move into your dorm or apartment, you should challenge yourself to see how much used furniture you can gather. After all, if you furnished a dorm with all new items, it would cost you a fortune. There’s no shame in having used items, especially if it helps you meet your financial goals.
2. Keeping up with technology
As a student, all you really need technology-wise is a basic cell phone and a standard laptop. I’ve never understood why college students feel compelled to buy the biggest and best plasma TV or the latest high-end laptop, but many do. Sure, I recently purchased an iPhone, but that was after years of waiting and having actually saved up the money for it. All too often, I see students rushing to purchase the latest and greatest technology with – yep, you guessed it – a credit card.
3. Entitlement spending
Many students feel that, just because they work hard at school, they “deserve” certain rewards that help them maintain a certain quality of life. One of the most common “entitlement purchases” that I see around campus is when someone purchases a new car so they can arrive at school in style. In reality, driving that new car to school may wind up costing more than your tuition. The cost of that car, interest payments, insurance, gas, maintenance, and parking fees will only put you further into debt.
4. Taking random courses
While everyone needs to fill up their schedule, there’s no point in signing up for a course if you’re not sure that it will interest you or help you progress toward your degree. Sure, you might want to explore your interests, but keep in mind that every time you take an unnecessary course (or drop a course) you’re literally throwing money away. That money could’ve been used to pay for courses that would’ve actually helped your get your degree, or perhaps you could’ve even stashed it in a high yield savings account.
Have you fallen prey to any of these spending habits?