“Home life ceases to be free and beautiful as soon as it is founded on borrowing and debt,” claimed the great playwright Henrik Ibsen. Truer words have never been spoken. The surest way to add more stress to your college days is to get yourself into debt.
Being a student means making sacrifices. While frequenting the local bars or traveling to exotic destinations for spring break may sound like fun, this is not the time to go into debt in order to maintain a luxury-laden life. By managing your funds in school you will be well prepared to take care of yourself after you graduate and well on your way to enjoying the finer things in life.
1. Explore Grants and Scholarships
Always look for any and all free ways to pay for your education and avoid student loans. Student loans are alluring, but remember that loans are not just a way of securing extra money – they must be paid back. Instead, explore the countless private and federal scholarships that target people with all sorts of backgrounds, degree paths (which often even include courses offered through online universities), ethnicities, income levels, etc. In addition, government grants are very generous these days and most students from low income households will qualify for a grant.
2. Buy Groceries/Plan Meals
A student’s life seems to never slow down, making it easy to fall into a fast food lifestyle. However eating out all the time quickly adds up and the term, “freshman fifteen” comes from the weight gain student’s often experience when all of their meals consist of processed foods.
Luckily, both of these dilemmas can be avoided by planning meals and going on weekly shopping trips. Commit to making this a habit while at school. Of course, this takes some preparation. Think of this experience as another lesson; a lesson in life skills. Plan each week’s meals and then shop accordingly, and don’t forget to take advantage of any coupons or student discounts that might be available to you. The average fast food bill for one person is $15 these days. Yet for $30, you might be able enough groceries to last you more than a week.
3. Get a Roommate (or two)
If you don’t like the idea of sharing your living space with others, you may want to try to get used to it. The costs of living can be cut severely by splitting up bills and rent. Although living with at least one another person may seem like it will cramp your style, remember the time you spend in school is not going to last forever nor will your time with your roommates. Busy yourself with your studies and set up rules for each of you to follow to make your shared home a comfortable one. When you graduate from school, you can celebrate by moving out. Or, you may be lucky enough to find roommates that you genuinely like and make a lifelong new friend. The best roommate a student can have is another student. Check out the bulletin boards at your student union hall or local paper to find the ideal roommate.
4. Cut Thrills and Earn a Bit of Cash
No one said going to school was going to be easy. It is especially difficult for people who are returning to school after working full time. No matter who you have been in your past, you are now a tightly-budgeted student. This means cutting out costs that are unnecessary and taking little jobs to earn cash when you can.
Although this advice might seem obvious, one would be surprised at the excessive items many students blow money on such as $5 coffee drinks, designer bottled water, cable television, after-class cocktails, etc. None of these items have a place in a student’s expenses.
Seek out odd jobs to bring in extra money. Even if you are working part time on a steady basis, there is always a way to manage your time to fit in a bit of extra money. Around campuses, there are always odd jobs to be done such as being a note taker for another student who has a disability, tutoring high school students and freelance writing just to name a few.
Your time as a student should cause you to grow scholastically as well as personally. Getting an education is the absolute best action one can take to creating a more abundant life in all ways. The only way to damage an education is by letting it get you into debt.
5. Try Learning Online
Some might be initially apprehensive to the idea of learning online, but there are several benefits. You save a sizable amount of money by taking online classes, as you do not have to worry about travel or tuition costs. Classes are flexible, meaning you should have no trouble holding down a part-time job while learning. Arguably the best benefit of online classes is that you can often transfer credits from conventional physical institutions and vice versa. So there’s no reason for any students not to try it out, whether it’s for just one class, or for an entire degree.