Are You Broke? Managing Money in College is Never Fun

As a senior in college, I’ve learned that one of the hardest things to manage after time is money. Often we are so busy doing other things that keeping track of our bank accounts is not at the forefront of our minds. We receive our loan or scholarship money in August, and then by the end of October it disappears. We had enough money for our pizza and beer, but now we have to pay our rent and have negative dollars to spare.

Here a few general tips and tricks to be sure you are spending money as wisely as possible.

  1. Your phone is your best friend. Most banks have iPhone apps that give you quick access to your account information. Don't have an iPhone? That's okay! A lot of banks will send daily e-mails or text messages of your checking or savinings account balance. If that is too annoying, sometimes they will send you a reminder text message if your balance drops below a set amount. Make sure you are checking how much money you actually have. To go a step further, look at what you' have actually been spending your money on and prepare to cringe.
  2. Go grocery shopping. Food is probably one of the places where college students spend the most money. Time crunches. No kitchen. No pots. No pans. Whatever the excuse, we eat out a lot. Unless you work at a restaurant with free food, it is a ton cheaper to eat at home. You can eat a ten cent meal with a packet of Ramen noodles. (I don't recommend living off Ramen, but I know it happens.) Another really good option is to ask your parents to give you their SAMs club card. Buying Ramen in bulk probably makes it even cheaper than ten cents.
  3. Buy or rent textbooks offline. Bookstores want all your money. Unless you are a science major it is usually possible to buy a used book online or from a fellow student. A great tool to use is IU Classifieds through OneStart, and then you don't have to pay shipping and handling either. Buying books through Amazon, or renting them through Chegg are also options.
  4. Find coupons. You do not need to be an extreme couponer or a grandma to enjoy a good $2.00 off coupon. Keep them handy for when a friend invites you out to eat, and let them dictate where you go. If you have a buy one get one free appetizer coupon to a restaurant that you've never been to, why not give it a shot? 
  5. Use campus resources for entertainment. Campus offers free movies, cheap bowling, student discounted plays, and musicals, lectures across many majors, and a gym with a pool, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and even group activity classes like Zumba and cardio kickboxing. There are so many different types of daily activities on campus for any person. Use them. A free movie at the Union is a lot cheaper than a movie at AMC theaters. Eleven dollars cheaper on the weekend.

These may seem obvious and we think about them often, but sometimes everyone needs a reminder, especially this time of year when our bank accounts dwindle and we are out of pizza money.

Lindsey Brinegar
Twitter: @lbbrinegar

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