The Pros of Being Cheap While in School

The Pros of Being Cheap While in School

by Marianne Stephens

Assuming you have a student loan from the government or the Bank of Mom and Dad, it’s still a good idea to be careful with your money in school (high school or post-secondary). There are a lot of things that you can do to help yourself financially. I did these myself in university, and it really did help:

As we all know, everything is going up: rent and groceries in particular. When you don’t have to worry too much about monthly rent in residence – you still have to pay “rent”. It’s just not the rent that you deal with off campus as that’s a different process. You need to figure out avoidable expenses and unavoidable expenses, because everything is going to cost you money. It’s just a matter of figuring out how and when to save money, or spend money.

List everything you can think of: if you rent a car, if you’re renting off or on campus (and how much it is), textbooks, groceries or the meal plan offered on campus (or both), and outings with friends. Then consider what is avoidable and what isn’t. Rent is definitely unavoidable, it’s a fixed amount that you agreed to when you signed your lease. Consider the ones you can change that isn’t included in rent: a phone line, cable, internet, or even hydro if it’s not included. Could you cancel that phone line and save some money by using your cell phone instead? Do you really need a cable subscription if you can just watch stuff online?  And if hydro is separate from rent – is there ways you can minimize your electrical consumption – by turning off lights and unplugging electronics when not in use?

Then there are the avoidable expenses. Textbooks – they may sound unavoidable, but some schools do offer rentals these days. You can gain some of that money back; or flip it and sell it, if possible, to a future student of the same class. (This unfortunately doesn’t work for every class, especially math and science classes, so rental is the best option for classes like these.)

Groceries are a manageable expense because you can be as picky as you want. Consider vegetables – you would save more by buying the store’s brand instead of the more expensive one. There are also coupons and deals on all the time, so it may require more effort to keep up, but can pay in the longer term if you coordinate your meals with the deals going on in the stores. In return, if you are making your own meals, consider cancelling (if possible) your meal plan, or not renewing it the following year. (Note: If you are a freshman about to start your new school year, don’t get a meal plan until you know you want or need one to help you save money.)

You might also have to give up a night out once in a while, too.  Fun times cost money, and that money might be more useful to you if you save it for other things.

There are additional variable things to consider: clothing, books, and gifts. They’re completely avoidable, you don’t necessarily need them right now, especially when you’re trying to save money. So hopefully, by doing this, you have saved money that can be used for several reasons; primarily for those unexpected, unavoidable emergencies (i.e. a trip home for a family matter, your car breaking down, being kicked out of your apartment). These are just examples, but hopefully they give you some thoughts about how being cheap can benefit you and your wallet ( and future!)

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