Saving money the college way

 

Nov. 13, 2013

Haley Beets

 

In recent years, your money may have moved from a porcelain piggy to a bank account, but the importance of saving it hasn’t changed. In fact, the looming presence of student loans makes saving your money even more important.

Tackling multi-thousand dollar loans won’t happen just by switching from soda to water, but every step counts toward the larger goal.

The first step to saving money requires you to be conscious of how much you spend. Thinking whether your purchasing whims are really worth it will force you to make better spending decisions.

Beets
Commentary by Haley Beets, Staff Writer

A more formal approach to being a conscious spender is creating a budget. Your budget can be as simple as a list of your necessary expenses in a fully functional Excel document; it needs to make sense to you.

Once you figure out what you spend the most on, you can work to cut back on those expenses. A common destination for student dollars is food.

Spending money on food can’t be avoided, but buying food in bulk at stores like Sam’s Club or Costco is a way to cut costs.  For example, most grocery stores charge $2 or more for two cups of shredded cheese. A large bag of shredded cheese purchased at Sam’s Club can be divided into two-cup bags for cents apiece.

Try to avoid spending money on unsatisfying and expensive junk food. It’s tempting, but it doesn’t take the place of a full meal. If you can’t avoid it, try to use a coupon.

While staying in every night and eating rice would save you a lot of money, it’s not very fun. Whitewater’s restaurants offer student discounts if you’d like to eat out.

Pizza Hut, Rocky Rococo, Salvo’s Coyote Grill, and Day and Night Café all offer 10 percent off for students.

Beijing Buffet and Culver’s have a 5 percent student discount. The Sweet Spot takes 20 percent off, and Fat Jack’s has a $2 off student special.

There also are coupon books available to students that are handed out at the beginning of each semester for restaurants and local retailers.

What you order when you’re out also matters. Soda and alcohol quickly add to the total bill.

Another large source of spending goes toward entertainment, such as cable or movies.

Bills can be cut into tenths by forgoing cable and using a streaming site, such as Netflix or Hulu Plus. Netflix costs only $8 a month, while cable often reaches more than $50.

Movies can be rented from Redbox for just over $1 per night. If you prefer going out, matinee movies are $4 on weekdays at Cinemas of Whitewater. SEAL also offers movies for just $1 with a student ID.

Basic living expenses can be covered by price comparing and shopping smart.

Cheap furniture can be found online at Craigslist.com and Freecycle.com. Some sellers allow you to negotiate lower prices by trading some of your current furniture.

Miscellaneous home and health items can be found on eBay or Amazon. They also offer features like price comparison.

In Whitewater, Maurice’s offers a 10 percent student discount on clothing.

Higher education leaves most students broke, but there are ways to make the best out of a bad situation. Save money on the little things, and reap the rewards until your loans are due.

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