There are plenty of ways that students waste their money. It’s surprising given the small amounts of disposable income you have when you’re in college, that there are so many students who waste money so needlessly and effortlessly. It’s easy to say you are concentrating on studying and your social life, but you might also be working part time to get through college, so why make things harder for yourself? Sound financial management doesn’t begin when you leave college and get a job. It starts before you enter college and should stay with you for the rest of your life. Here’s 10 ways students waste money in college:
1. Shopping when You're Hungry
Many students take a very relaxed attitude to shopping, and meander round the stores filling up their baskets with whatever takes their fancy. This is especially dangerous if you do this while feeling hungry. Plan your meals in advance and write a list of what you need - this way you won't waste money on unnecessary items that end up in the bin because they've gone out of date.
2. Branded Food Products
Another food related way that students waste money is by not being product-savvy. Supermarket chains offer their own alternatives to famous branded products, and often they are practically identical and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference if it wasn't for the different packaging. Don't fall into the trap of picking up a product just because you recognise it; take a bit more time over your shopping and you'll get far more for your money.
3. Unused Memberships
If you've got a gym membership that you're using at least 3 times a week, or a subscription to a music or mp3 download service that you're saving lots of money using because you would have downloaded those items anyway at the full price – fair enough. But if you're forgetting about your subscription or just not getting enough use out of it, then it's time to say goodbye. Wasting money in college on things you could do more cheaply or differently is not smart. You don't really need an expensive gym membership anyway: go for a run, or join a college sports team - and team sports are a great deal more fun.
4. Eating out
Eating out with friends is great fun and there's nothing wrong with a meal out as an occasional treat - but many students do it far too often. A lot of students will also buy hot lunches every day on campus that, while not bad value, are still a lot more expensive than making something at home and bringing it in. Trading a cooked lunch for a homemade sandwich or salad just a couple of times a week will help you get more out of your college budget.
5. Drinking out
Your social life is really important, but you can easily waste money at college by overdoing the spending on entertainment. Alcohol is expensive - so enjoy some "pre-drinks" at home before you head out for the evening, as a can of beer or a glass of wine is cheaper than in a bar or club. It's also a nice way to get all your friends together before you all head on out for the night; it's an opportunity for a good catch up in a slightly quieter setting. Or, even better, cut down your drink and save even more money.
Another way students waste money in college is by falling into the ‘I need that gadget’ trap. It can be tempting to buy a top of the range laptop before heading off for college, but if you're only going to be using it for Internet browsing and word processing, then you can get a good one for under $400. Many students also buy themselves a printer, which is unnecessary and not cost-efficient if only being used by one person, especially now that more and more work is completed online. If you do ever need to print, you can do it on campus for a minimal fee.
7. Expensive Books
Spending money on textbooks doesn’t really count towards a waste of money in college, but you can make savings and spend less. So there are some textbooks you simply have to buy, but there definitely isn't any need to buy them at the RRP in a bookstore. Shop around online for your books: sites like Amazon not only have brand new books at better prices, but second hand books available too. If there are any books that you don't need to buy, then maybe you should get them out of the library instead.
8. Library Fines
While taking books out of the library should save you money, it won’t if you’re not getting them back on time. Make sure you keep a note, somewhere you can see it, to remind you of what you have out and when it needs to be back.
If you're a smoker, you're probably hemorrhaging money by feeding your habit. There's plenty of help available to help you stop smoking so there's no excuse not to at least try. And it's not just your bank balance you have to think about - giving up smoking is the best thing you can do for your health.
One of the classic ways that students waste money in college is in thinking you need a car. Cars are expensive - and so are insurance payments, taxes, gas, and repairs. Ask yourself if you really need to a car to get to college. If you're not using it, you're paying for insurance and the rest without reason, and even if you are using it, public transport could be cheaper - it's all about doing the sums.
Sorry ladies if that’s preaching a little. I just think, contrary to the general jaded world view of students, you have a pretty tough life balancing studying, working, and socialising, so why make it harder by giving yourself financial issues to manage as well. Know how students waste money in college, know which bad habits you have and correct them. Then you can concentrate on getting that degree to take the world of work by storm when you graduate.