I want to start this post off with an honest disclaimer. I know there are plenty of self-help, money saving articles out there written by experts and analysts in every field you can think of, but this is not one of them. The tips, tricks, suggestions and facts here come from my simple, firsthand experience.
When I graduated college, my financial situation was a definite rarity. I had zero student loans to pay off, no credit card debt and a well-paying job. Now before any of you start jumping to conclusions about a “spoiled rich girl” that had everything handed to her, I want you to know I come from a lower, middle class family and only managed to do that and get where I through hard work and smart choices.
My parents didn’t pay for my college, I did, along with the help of several scholarships I worked hard to earn. I didn’t have a rich grandparents or an uncle to pay my way—I did it all myself and still managed to stay on top of my finances.
Now, I don’t want this to come off as bragging or gloating by any means. I just know that many students approach college with the idea that it is a daunting financial burden and I just hope to make it seem more approachable and manageable. Sure, not everyone will be able to graduate completely debt-free and rolling in the dough, but through following the simple tips I highlight below, you can definitely eliminate some unnecessary, money-sucking expenses from your life.
Cut the Cable
Or satellite. Whatever additional TV package you have, remove it from your life if you are paying for it yourself. If it’s complimentary with an apartment or dorm, by all means leave it be, but if you are paying an extra fee out of pocket every month, you really need to let it go.
Before you all start thinking I’m some crazy hippie that doesn’t appreciate a good sitcom or drama, I want you to stop and realize most of these shows can be found and viewed in other ways. Many shows offer online viewing options, in addition to whole seasons on DVD and Blue Ray. Sure, you might not see it the instant everyone else does, but with your busy schedule, odds are you aren’t watching them “live” anyways, if at all.
You’ll be amazed how healthy your bank account will be with that extra $20-100 nestled safely within it each month.
This is a good habit I picked up when I lived with my first roommate. She was very concerned with efficiency and not being wasteful, so she was insistent we unplug anything we weren’t using. Kitchen appliances, hair dryers, electronics, nothing was off limits. To help get me on board, she gave me some stats about not only how much energy these products were using, but also what it was costing us. So from that point on, I followed her lead. And what do you know, our electricity bill DROPPED!
These days this is even more effective with the advent of laptops, tablets and other power-hungry devices. Turning off lights when we weren’t there—and even sometimes when we were—also became an important habit. Remember how your parents always bugged you to do that? Well when you pay for your own electricity you quickly learn WHY.
Limit Your Dishwasher Use
Assuming you are one of the lucky few among your college brethren to have a dishwasher, limit how often and which settings you use. Simply utilizing the “wash” and “rinse” features definitely does little to no harm to your water and electricity bill, but when you opt for the fancy options such as “heat dry” you can find yourself in a world of hurt.
Also, don’t run it unless it is near full. Several little loads will lead to unnecessary water use and thus an unnecessarily EXPENSIVE water bill. Plus, just like the previous tip, limiting yourself in this realm is also good for the environment. Talk about a win-win.
So, although these might seem like simple, obvious money-saving tips, you’d be surprised just how many people aren’t taking advantage of them. Do yourself a favor and get in the habit of doing these thrifty things while you’re young, so when you grow older and actually have expendable cash you can spend it on fun worthwhile things like vacations—not bills.
Katheryn Rivas is a writer for OnlineUniversities.com. Many of her posts discuss ways to make the most of, as well as survive your college experience. She welcomes your comments.
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