As college students, we know how hard it is to balance our classes and social life. Many of us have very little time or knowledge to properly budget our finances as well. Therefore, we find ourselves scrambling for that last $20 or that quarter under the couch. So as college students, we live on a day-to-day basis with a few dollar bills or our credit-cards. And soon we find ourselves swamped with mile-high receipts and long credit card bills. However, before searching for that last $20 in your pocket or lifting the cushions on your couch, you might want to look at some of the following tips that can help you balance excess spending and keep some well-deserved cash.
Since textbooks are vital, it is important to know how to wisely spend on textbooks. Buying textbooks online can save approximately 10 to 40 percent off the prices at the bookstore. Locate the ISBN numbers for the books you need from the campus bookstore Web site, and search on Amazon, eBay or go to your local used bookstore, Textmania. A good search engine is BigWords.com, because it helps you find the best prices online. Another great site is Facebook, since it allows you to look through its marketplace for textbooks that you might need from other UC Irvine students.
However, if the campus bookstore is more convenient, you might want to go early before the start of each quarter to ensure that more used books will be available for purchase. If you have a friend that has the same class, consider sharing the book, thereby sharing the expense. If your budget is more limited, you might want to visit the library to see if your course books are available. Usually professors will put several of the required books on reserve for students to borrow. Remember that after each quarter you can resell the books to the bookstore or to other UCI students for a fraction of what you paid for.
It is hard for many of us to prepare a well-balanced meal after coming home from a long day on campus. Therefore, we find ourselves heading toward the food court at the Student Center or the nearby restaurants. While eating out is fine in moderation, many of us soon get a bit out of hand. The $40 we had at the beginning of the week slowly starts decreasing and, by the end, we’re left with nothing. Instead of eating out on a daily basis, minimize your outings to twice a week or less. Also, check out the flyers sent through the mail to find good deals. Try to look for restaurants that have lunch specials, since they tend to be cheaper than the dinner price. You can often get a delicious lunch for less than $6. So, instead of picking a place that can cost you an average of $10 to $20 per plate, consider using coupons or checking any local places that offer lunch menus when dining out.
However, buying groceries for a week or two is the best way to go. Look for any weekly deals at your local supermarket. Sometimes, fresh fruits and vegetables can be found at an excellent price. Now if you’re not keen on cooking, wait until the frozen food section has deals like 10-for-$10 on microwave dinners. One last tip is to share expenses with your roommates. For example, a trip to Costco can help save you and your roommates time and money.
Now, after a stressful week everyone needs to wind down from all the stress. Most of us go out to clubs, the movies or dine out, but try to spend wisely. For example, there are clubs or bars that have no cover charge and offer two-for-one deals on drinks before 8 p.m. House parties are also a great place to go instead of clubs, since food and drinks are usually free. A good alternative to going out to see a movie is to rent movies at a local Blockbuster or Netflix. That way, you’re able to watch some good movies without taking a big hit on your wallet.
After minimizing your spending, it is wise to keep a record of all your expenses, whether they’re receipts or credit card statements. It is important to save all your receipts so that you can keep track of where and how much you are spending. Making a budget is important because it will set up some financial boundaries. Every two weeks or so, calculate how much you’re spending per week. If you’ve surpassed your budget, you should put expenses in two categories: necessities and miscellaneous. From there, you should cut some of the unnecessary expenses so that you can keep up with your budget.
Since most of us have credit cards, we have the temptation to spend more than we should. However, there are several ways in which we can reduce the temptation. First, limiting your credit card limit will force you to stop spending as much. Secondly, instead of using credit cards to buy things, use your debit card. Debit cards tend to make us save our money more than credit cards, since the money is directly taken from our bank accounts. Another tip is to stick with cash since you visually see your money decrease. So, the next time you have to buy that video game, you might want to use a debit card or cash to make your purchase. As a result, your credit card balances won’t make you want to scream.
Remember, the key to budgeting is moderation. This will help you achieve the financial stability that you need.