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College Living for Less - The Do's and the Don'ts


Live Large On Campus…For Less.
The Do’s

“Money. The cause of and solution to all of a young person’s problems.” – Will Rogers

A truer thing was never said when applied to today’s college students. Bread, bills and bucks are all necessary elements or evils to all campus kids. Basically scholastics, social life and many a simple pleasure need some wampum to make them happen.

The quicker you learn how to handle your almighty dollars the sooner you will be on your way to a happier and healthier college lifestyle and eventual transition to the infamous “real world”.

Most college types need to save money and pinch a few pennies. Yet most university students feel the “need” to live large on campus all the while pursuing their academics. These concepts do not have to work against one other. Anyone can have it all…well most of what they need or want while in school. After all college is a time to experiment, have fun, play with the idea of being poor and eat lot’s of Ramen noodles. Embrace it. Have fun with it!

Whether you are a hip college chick or a frat brat, the following fiscal “Do’s” will save you some wallet heartaches, put a few smiles on your face and teach you something to use later in life. Oh, heaven forbid…anything but teaching and learning.

Get involved
The surest way to be large and in charge of a cheap and cool college world is to join in the “other education”. This is what you learn and have fun with outside the classroom. More than likely there is a club, organization and group of future friends out there just for you. This involvement has so many benefits…one being a much cheaper form of instant entertainment.

Nickel and dime you to death
“Before everyone leaves. We need $5.00 from each of ya for next week’s event.” As mentioned above getting involved is the best thing you could ever do for yourself at college both socially and fiscally. Yet, beware that sometimes the even they can sneak in a due here and there.

Turn the computer off
Go outside and live.

On campus versus off
The eternal question. This all depends on you and your needs. Some students need the ease, access and in the know that living on campus gives. Others want to make an off campus happy home with or without the added expenses. In other words…wherever you live can be cheaper or more costly in money and in your desires for a cool college experience.

Entertainment tonight on campus
Usually much cheaper, more enlightening and probably more fun. Check out the campus parties, movies and events.

Acme Corporation
I once new a college student that spent at least an hour a day sending letters of appreciation to various companies explaining how much he enjoyed their products. These corporations would then send him free coupons for their products. He got everything from free tires to French manicures. The total on freebie pizza alone was twenty-six pies. Give it a shot. Some Customer Service Rep at Acme Corp needs to justify her job somehow!

They are marvelous little devices for saving money…clip, keep and use.

It does not take big bucks and matching comforters to make a dorm look livable. Let your living abode reflect who you are. Martha Stewart never lived in a residence hall so just forget about her advice. Go with the Christmas lights, an Amsel Adams picture and a clothes hamper. Done and done. The dorm is for sleeping and for geeks who waste the best years of youth playing Game Station. I know it is a little preachy…but it’s just a fact.

Student discount
Use this little privilege as long as you can and in any circumstance that allows you to. The next time you get to have such rights is when you are over 65 and then it is cheap cafeteria plates and Gold Bond powder.

Hamburger helper
It does help the pocket book…you decide if it helps the intestinal track.

Stock up when parents in town
If they are willing so should you. Bring on the mom and pop credit card.

Student guinea pigs
You can get fast cash by participating in “scientific” pharmaceutical studies for acne, sleep disorder, irritable bowel, migraines and bladder infections. Plus they make for interesting conversation topics.

Dinner, movie and dessert used to be the way to go. Not only is that boring, it can cost mega money nowadays. College guys and gals appreciate diversity and imaginative dating. In these more enlightened times there is also the notion that boys don’t have to always pay. Girls put in your share as well or split the check.

Hand me downs
One student’s college trash is another’s lifestyle and fashion statement. No longer are these the things you dread to inherit. Now such items as carpet, microwaves, mini-fridges, books, quiz files, notes, etc. is manna from heaven. Reap the bounty of upper classmen who are leaving the great alma mater and have no need for such “junk”.

Wheeling and dealing
Used books, CDs, DVDs, donated blood, resale clothes. You name it. Someone will buy it. This is fast cash for the willing. Also remember to sell your books back at the semester’s end as soon as possible. The bookstores give more money earlier rather than later. Remember the old lesson from Economics 101 - Supply and Demand.

Reality checks
Get a checking account… Matt Jeffries of Homestead Savings says that students should open a checking account, “Preferably one with overdraft protection and a free checking option. Most college towns and campuses have banks that provide these.” Having an account that you can access locally allows you greater freedom to do the things you need to do. Still, with that freedom comes the responsibility side of things. It’s your money after all…

They can be your best friends or an unsolved case from the X-Roommate files. No matter who they are, they can and do help financially by splitting the bills. The more roommates you have the smaller the bills and most of the time…the more domicile drama.

If it is free than take it. Food is the number one thing on most students’ minds.

Change can be a good thing
You would be surprised what you can buy with the change you find. Make a game of it.

.99-cent value meals
If you can buy food with the change in your car seat of ashtray, then go for it! See above.

An overlooked staple for any dinnertime

Who knew a library could be so useful
James Roder of Cornell tells us, “Students are notorious for doing everything at the twelfth hour. Take for instance buying books. They know their classes well in advance, but most of them buy their books at the highest price never shopping around on Amazon or Ebay, purchasing early or checking them out of the college library where they required to be and are FREE!”

Dining hall ethics
I am not advocating anything, but they say, “all you can eat” in the cafeteria. Not all you can eat right now or here.

Ebay and Amazon
As mentioned above. The selling and buying of all things college on these websites can save and make you a few bucks.

Campus – more than an adventure…it can be a job as well.
Nothing wrong with employment off campus as there is plenty of jobs for the college student. Yet, the on campus jobs have better hours, better bosses, easier to get to and are usually conducive to studying. After all it is ON campus.

The great and noble student coupon book
The holy book of savings. Use it. Be it. Live by it. The greatest words to a college student’s ears are, “two for one” or “buy one - get one free”.

The campus quack shack may have a reputation. Still you can get the free or less costly medical help for your campus colds there.

This is just a smattering of ways and means to save a buck or two while having the time of your college lives. Half the fun of school is learning to deal with the Spartan dorms and surreal campus climate. College is serious. College life is a game. Remember this quote from an anonymous student. “The best times I ever had in college was when I sat around with my friends at 3:00 A.M. in the dorm…doing absolutely nothing. Just being us.”

Last time I checked that is pretty good advice and “doing nothing” is free.

Live Large On Campus…For Less.
The Don’ts

“For I don’t care too much for money,
For money can’t buy me love.” – The Beatles

We all want more of the green stuff right? I know…I know. You don’t want to be a part of the materialistic culture ruled by the elite or better known as Da Man. Yet, we could all use a few more bucks on campus to live a better and bigger college lifestyle. Just admit it and we can get on with this article on the don’ts of caring for your coinage.

If you want to attain a certain financial well being while at school there are some simple don’ts and a few helpful hints that can make this a reality. I am not promising you will live like a king or queen, but you will have more fiscal freedom all the while developing a mature and healthy responsibility for dinero dealings.

The Don’ts:

ATM fees
$2-$4 per transaction at another bank’s cash cow adds up quick. Get all your cash for the weekend at one time.

Impulse buying
Make a list when shopping for groceries and other needed items. Stick to it. Oh, never go on a supermarket run when you’ve got the munchies!

Parking tickets
In a study conducted at Texas A&M University, the average student will get eight parking tickets during their college career. Not only are they pains in the booty, but they will take their fair share of your money booty as well.

Avoid prolific snack bar and machine use.
These are just caloric and money slot machines. Put a few snacks in the old backpack.

Credit cards
The ban of all young people’s existence. It is all right to get a card to start developing a good credit history and not a future bankruptcy. Be careful.

Gas Cards
Use them for gas. How quickly the .99 cent mega gulp and $4.00 bag of chips turn that monthly billing statement into a scream for help.

Avoid the mini-mart
This one goes well with the snack machine and the gas card ones. The mini-mart is just one big gas and gulp of the fiscal kind. Beware.

T-shirt buying sprees
Contrary to opinion, you do not have to have a t-shirt for every event. If you need one so badly, go give blood. Save a life and some money.

Student bucks, campus cash, etc.
Whatever your school calls its on-campus currency, and besides the number of off campus businesses that now use them and the convenience…it is REAL MONEY. Be responsible.

Buying new stuff every semester in an attempt to renew your self
Be you and not your stuff. Have a sense of style with your own definition of what that is.

Computer envy
If your machine does the job for what you need and is not a Commodore 6400, you are in good shape. Let it go.

Dues for organizations
This one is pretty easy. Plan for them when they are due and never, ever over extend your self. These are your peers and your reputation as a mature person is on the line.

Cover charges
Do you always have to go to the newest, trendiest clubs or raves, as well as pay the over priced entry fee? Find someplace where you can be you and not have to sell your soul to get in?

Night on the town
Take it easy…on your body and checkbook.

Taking the right courses
Darby Shumaker at the University of Michigan remarks that,”…one the biggest fiscal boo-boo’s students make is to take the wrong course or drop it because of their lack of proper studies.” One class that you don’t finish or never had to take can cost big buckaroos!

Long distance and cell phone plans
Find the best system for you…stick to it, know the fine print rules and don’t abuse.

Don’t be stingy all the time
We know you are trying to save money, but no one likes a Scrooge. Be cool about. No one digs a guy constantly asking for payback, compensation and gas money.

Bounced checks hurt you in more ways than you know. Not only are there the fees to consider, there is the embarrassment and the harsh reflection they have on credit reports. Balance you checkbook and know where your cash is going.

American college students eat four acres of pizza every hour. The hut, inn, Papa and Mr. Domino love you guys and your cash. Watch your wallet and your waistline!

So there are some of the more basic don’ts of dealing with your fiscal wheeling and dealings. All is takes is the tiniest effort on most of these to make a huge difference to your available campus cash. This means more fun for you and less stress on your studies and general hip-hop college lifestyle.

Be on the look out for our next advice column of getting tough on your legal tender:
“The Do’s”

Until then, keep on eye on the pocket book, live large on campus for less and
cover your assets. Get it…your assets? Sorry could not resist that one.

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