The Bang for your Buck: Budgeting so you don’t go broke in college

Maybe you’ve just seen the bill for your textbooks this semester and felt your stomach drop. Maybe you just never really had to pay much attention to how much you spent on groceries. Do you really want to save by canceling your monthly Spotify subscription? I don’t think so.

Sticking to a budget can be a challenge for anyone. When it comes to college students, it’s even harder. College means more independence for many students, but it also means more financial responsibility. Budgeting can be a challenge, yet, it extremely worth it when you buy something you need, not want.

Whether a student lives on or off campus, there are temptations everywhere for unnecessary spending. Student discounts, going out, “real” food that isn’t dining hall food, your midnight cravings that deliver until 3 a.m. or the 50 percent off sale that you just couldn’t miss out on, makes it easy to spend too much.

“Sometimes I think there’s a tendency to impulse spend,” Gary Kayakachoian, Senior Lecturer in Finance at the University of Rhode Island, said. “Student’s are also in a new area and don’t know exactly where the best deals are.”

“It’s pretty hard to save money because at school you want to go out a lot and if you live off campus like myself, you want to find a lot of groceries which you find is really expensive,” said student, Brittany Sells.

Students should know it may take time to find the cheapest places to shop or deals to shop for, so do not settle for the first place you find. Kayakachoian said there are many options students need to look out for and advises students to take advantage of the resources we have.

“The beautiful thing is with the web,” he said. “You have places like Amazon where you can look up and search an item to compare prices.”

If you want to be a smart shopper you have to realize where your money is going. Create a list that displays all your recurring expenses such as cell-phone bills, car payments or rent if you live off campus. Clearly identifying your costs will make a student more aware and conscious of spending. Also, keep track of your flexible expenses such as food, clothes, and  entertainment (going out). Remember to budget in your weekly income if you have a job. Once this is done, create your budget for each spending occurrence.

“When I started budgeting, I found myself saving in the end,” said senior Alexa Gama.

With a few tips and tricks, budgeting can become second nature. You just need to know how to begin. Think convenience.

Are you going home for the weekend? Carpool with someone who lives in your area. Gas is pricey and you will save by doing so. Meal prepping and cooking at home will save you from impulse food ordering. Also, buy generic brands. Although hitting Dunkin’ Donuts is part of your morning routine, buy coffee and make it off home. Keep a refillable water bottle instead of buying individual water bottles.

“I’ve found that over the years, Stop n’ Shop has better deals. You can get a Stop n’ Shop card to get gas points, discounts and coupons,” Kayakachoian said.

Most students don’t utilize student status. Showing your ID in certain spots will give them a discount. Places near the University of Rhode Island like McDonald’s in Wakefield, Central Nails in South County Commons, the 401 Cafe at the Kingston emporium and Smoothy Booty Cafe in Wakefield all give discounts when students present their ID. In outlet shopping stores, student discounts are offered as well. On certain days and certain times, dining destinations have deals on specific food.

Whenever and wherever you decide to spend money, always be on the lookout and don’t be afraid to ask for special deals. Remember, do not impulse spend. Ask yourself, “do I really need that?”

 

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Jessica Pace
I’m from Long Island, New York. I am a senior double major in Journalism and Communication Studies. I have a passion for telling people stories that are exciting and intriguing. My plans for the future is to bring you a friendly familiar face to the TV screen- as a dedicated reporter. I’ve interned with WJAR NBC10 in Providence and News 12 Long Island two summers in a row. If you see me on campus with a camera, don’t be shy! Say hi!