Pragmatic Personal Finance Tips for College Students: Part2

English Major (Sorry, but I’m going to have to take the liberty of shortening this to E.M. for the rest of this post) over at An English Major’s Money has an excellent post about Pragmatic Personal Finance Tips for College Students. The stress here is on the term "Pragmatic". There are a lot of excellent finance-related blogs in the blogsphere, but the student finances have such unique challenges that some of the tips on these blogs are just not applicable to students. That's why I like E.M.'s list. It is very specific to the student population.

I have a few additional tips to add to the list and so decided to create a "Part 2" here.
Since it is written as a continuation of the (unofficial) Part1 started out by E.M., let me start with a quick summary of the original list.

  • Choose your bank carefully.

  • Get a credit card, but don't use it.

  • Consider living off-campus. (After freshman year.)

  • Know your options.

  • Know your resources.

  • Get free stuff.

  • Apply for internal awards.

  • Get an on-campus job.

  • Play games with money.

  • Avoid driving whenever possible.

  • Make regular thrift-store expeditions.

  • Word of mouth is king.

Now that’s an excellent list which will work for most students (not just those who go to the liberal arts schools but Beyond too). Here are a few more.

Save on textbooks.
  • Buy them used – check with seniors and bulletin boards. There's got to be someone who has taken that class before and doesnt want to hang on to the book right?

  • Sell your old books which you don’t need anymore, to fund this semester's books.

  • Check out this link for a review of online sites where you could buy books for a lot less than the list price.

Save on eating expenses.
  • Get into the habit of cooking. Eating out all the time can get expensive.

  • Share cooking turns with your roommates or friends. This way you cook for one day and feed X people, and then for the next X days, you don’t have to worry.

  • Take packed lunch with you. If you cannot do this everyday, start out by doing this a few times a week and then slowly decrease the number of days you eat out.

  • Have potluck dinners with your friends. You cook only one dish, but get to eat X dishes. When we do pot lucks, those who did not wish to cook usually get beer, chips or disposable plates etc. A nice inexpensive way to party.

Save on entertainment.
  • Check out dvds from library.

  • If your school has a media center (ours was in our library building) watch movies there. You will not need to own a TV, VCR, DVD Player or pay for the Tapes or DVDs

  • If you watch a lot of movies, get a membership to online dvd clubs like blockbuster or netflix. Better still, share the membership with friends.

  • If you believe the thrill of watching a movie on a large theatre size screen cannot be matched by the tv screen (I’m with you on this one), go for shows before 6pm. They are usually less expensive than the ones after 6pm.

  • Some "outings" just aren’t as much fun before 6pm ;) Pre-buy you tickets at Costco or Fandango(look for coupon codes on ebay) and save some money on such occasions.

Internet Access.
  • This one is part of E.M.'s original Know your resources tip. Check where the student computing center is. Chances are your school WILL have one. If its convenient, use that instead of paying for high speed Internet access (or a computer/laptop for that matter).

  • If you absolutely HAVE to get high speed internet at home, rope in your neighbors. Set up a wireless router and split the Internet access and the bill with them.

Don’t know if this was unique to our school. But I will list it, anyway. For us on-campus parking was quite expensive. Several apartment complexes within walking distance from school restricted the parking to their residents. Since there were quite a few students in these apartments who did not own a car, there was a flourishing "underground market" for these parking stickers. I don’t know if its legal or if its something you like – I am just listing it. What you do with the info is up to you :)

Traffic rules.
Observe traffic rules. Traffic tickets are expensive and unnecessary. I just didn’t get this at first. But after two speeding and one parking ticket, I decided it was time to stop funding the local highway maintenance projects out of my below-the-poverty-line student salary!

Car Pool.
E.M. mentions Avoid driving whenever possible. I agree. However, if that is not possible, carpool. In my case, this was not possible since me and the better half lived a 100 miles apart. After a few weeks of me communting alone, the word spread (as E.M. says, word of mouth is king) and a few others asked me if they could ride with me. In return, they would sometimes pay for a tank of gas. There wasn’t a formal financial arrangement (I agreed, because I enjoyed the company), but every time someone offered to pay for gas, it was mini windfall for me :)

That’s about what I have for now. If you would like to add additional tips, feel free to leave a comment here or on E.M.’s original list. If you have several tips, you are welcome to create a "Part 3" on your blog, too :)

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English Major said...

This is awesome! Thanks for picking up the ball and running with it, and I can't believe I didn't mention the do not sell your books back to the bookstore; sell them online thing. I hope to see lots more posts by young pf bloggers (current students and recent grads both) on this subject--I really think that so much of the information given to students is so wildly general that it's basically useless. Web 2.0 to the rescue!

ispf said...

Web 2.0 to the rescue, it is!

Wise Bread said...

Ugh. Parking.

I can vouch for the high quality work ethic of UCLA's parking enforcement team. Back in my college days (about 10 years ago), I used to avoid paying for parking ($5/day on campus) as much as possible. That meant a lot of illegal parking. In the end, I paid much more in tickets (and time fighting tickets) than I would have if I just paid for parking. I wouldn't be surprised if parking enforcement brought in more money than the football team. ;)

The lesson? Never, EVER, mess with UCLA's meter maids. They always win.

Great blog ispf! I wish there were resources like this when I was going to school.


Stingy Student said...

Hey, these are awesome tips! I'm honored to be included in this list :-)

Brochures said...

Excellent tips! Buying used books is a really great way to save. Plus by selling the ones that you have you'll be able to earn. Check out book swaps or book exchange programs as these are really helpful too!