It’s no secret how expensive a college education is, no matter where or when you go. Unless you’re on a full scholarship with extra expenses covered, or you’re totally parent funded for everything you need and desire, you’re in the camp of needing to make the most of every dollar that comes your way. Millions of students graduate with thousands, or hundreds of thousands in student loan debt. In many social circles, student loan debt is the new credit card debt. There has to be a better way, and perhaps that’s another article and another discussion. For now, let’s focus on making the most with what you have, where you are.
- Consider the bigger pieces at play. Before we talk about something as radical as $.10 packs of ramen noodles on sale and stretching those across two meals, let’s take a look at the large pieces within your control. If you’re at an out of state institution, you’re already at a major disadvantage of cost options, (if you’re not a full scholarship recipient). Researching in-state universities for your remaining semesters might be worth your time and efforts to transfer into. Unless you’re in a major that’s unique to where you are, for a certain career path with a big payoff when you’re out into the working world, it’s most likely a better path in the financial plan to change to a less expensive option. Other major factors include your living expenses, transportation and hobbies. How many $2 beers are you having each month? Those add up quickly, especially if you’re going out more than once a week, which is quite common for most college students. Consider your big expense options and adjust where it makes sense to, both for your current self, and your future self.
- Consider your major in relation to your career and life goals. Whether you’re a chemistry major, or a marketing major, what are your career goals and plans post-graduation? Does your major align with your future financial needs and goals? You might consider your career path when envisioning your future lifestyle, and what you can do to maximize your income as soon as possible in early post-college life.
- Go with the low-hanging fruit. Eating out instead of eating at home, drinking excessively, having a car payment when you’re mostly at college and having a car isn’t conducive to your budget, shopping unnecessarily, and spending frivolously can be reduced almost immediately. Preventing as much debt as possible in the present, and maximizing your savings is not only sound financial advice for students, but also for non-students. Perhaps changing out some meals from expensive delivery pizza to a healthier and far less expensive oatmeal or rice and vegetables is a great option, not only for your health, but also for your wallet.
No matter your space and time in life, making better use of your monetary resources is always a good plan. Taking on extra jobs, spending mindfully and in accordance with your short and long-term goals, making a plan and disciplined approach to finances is something that if started in college, will certainly carry you into adulthood in a better financial state.