Remember that time you said, “I can’t, I’m broke.”
You know you’ve said those words. You know you’ve heard those words. You’ve convinced yourself the words are true. You’ve accepted the reality that you’re living in a clichéd world of broke college students and there’s nothing you can do.
And remember when a parent, teacher and/or mentor suggested to start saving for college? They were only protecting you from the sleek road of college debt hundreds of thousands of adults suffer from during and/or after graduation.
Since education took the back-burner in the economy, college and university tuition has become increasingly expensive and unaffordable for some. According to trends.collegeboard.org, the average student will pay between $30,000 and $40,000 for a four-year college degree. That’s nearly double the amount you would pay in 2005.
Furthermore, many college students find themselves in a cycle of not being able to pay for immediate, everyday expenses.
A rule-of- thumb is to save as much as you can whether you enroll in a community or private college/university. Helpful tips to keep some change in your cookie jar include the following:
- Browse the available on-campus and off-campus jobs and apply to a few; you can’t save if you don’t have a source of income to begin with. Decide if you want a work-study job to pay off student debt or a regular job for everyday expenses.
- Keep a mental note of your income and avoid being broke by the next paycheck by setting a limit on how much to spend each week or month.
- Remember your impulses; if you know you’ll end up shopping while in the city for lunch, try eating elsewhere or eat at home. Also, stay up-to-date on what’s happening on campus because you never know when there will be an opportunity for free food.
- Keep a budget; write out your average expenses for a week (month or year) and identify the needs versus wants.
- Save 20 percent of what you earn exclusively for college.
- Stay away from credit cards! If you must, try to stick with one at a time that has a
- manageable payment plan.
- Limit the time you spend with friends who spend too much. If you end up spending money every time you go out, try to hang out once or twice a week or suggest free activities. And remember: you could always hang out with them at the free events on campus.
- Make a list of student discounts. Many stores and public activities offer discounts for students, so take advantage of them!
- Stay motivated! Imagine yourself debt-free and able to reach the financial goals you set.
Even if you can only complete 1-2 of the above steps, consistency is what will bring the benefits.
Of course, feel free to add your own tips to the list. The smartest way to end your studies is without a heap of debt following behind. Start today and you’ll thank yourself later.
(Anisah Muhammad contributed to this article)