As far as I know, the majority of college students don’t have money to mess around with. More often, we’re all penny pinching and coping with money-related anxiety. Bills, tuition, groceries-forget it! If I had some money to spare on those gorgeous boots at J.Crew, you bet I would-but can I afford it? Probably not. So here’s the question, what should you not spend money on in college?
If you think textbooks are something to splurge on, think twice. There are countless resources for getting your textbooks on the cheap, including with our website, CollegeFocus. Though it’s tempting to buy them for full price and get it over with, you can’t save hundreds by renting or buying used online. Remember that most of the time, your textbook ends up collecting dust by the end of the semester-if you don’t plan to use it much, check if your university’s library has a copy; that way, you can skimp on buying it altogether.
I’m not saying go hungry; however, college students are notorious for turning a blind eye to price when it comes to food. For the majority, college campus food is poor and pricey. Shopping for food outside of school can do double duty: starting good eating habits and saving you money in the long run. Try to overlook that five-dollar bagel with an extra two-dollar cream cheese charge on campus and remember you can get a pack of bagels for three bucks at any grocery store. There’s no reason why you should be spending twice the money for 1/6 of what you can get.
We get it, you’re in college. It’s not unknown that college and alcohol have an undying love for each other. But remember that alcohol is something that won’t really do you any good on any spectrum. Alcohol is both detrimental to your health and your bank account. Every year, college students spend around five and half billion on alcohol, which is more than books and groceries combined. So if you can help it, nix it altogether.
Though rent can be pretty pricey, furnishing that apartment might do damage of its own. When buying furniture, try to collaborate with roommates and never go over budget. Remember that it’s unlikely that you’ll keep this piece of furniture post- college, when it’s not unlikely you could move to a completely different location. Invest in furniture later, when life is a little more stable. Until then, that furniture in your parents’ basement and Craigslist are good ways to go.
Though men generally don’t have such a tough time with avoiding this one, typically anything retail is not going to be beneficial to your savings. Investing in a few key items is important, like a winter coat or warm boots, but just because it says 50% off doesn’t mean you should buy it. Buy things that are necessities and basics and leave the extras for when you get that job you’re going to school for.
The monetary side of college winds down to the strong distinction between ‘want’ and ‘need’ (though unfortunately, in America these are often interchangeable). Although men and women tend to spend money on different things, students as a whole spend entirely too much money on the same things, which are not affordable in terms of their income.
When balancing college, work, and social life, it’s tough to spend less. Alleviate some of these problems by a simple mental checklist (Is it a priority purchase? Do you need it right now?) that you should quickly go through before making a buy. Being conscious of your purchases and budget is one of the most important things to do as a young adult. Avoid spending money on these five things in the future and remember: a penny saved is a penny earned.
Author Bio: Mariya Rakutko is a junior at the University of Colorado and a staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.