Helping other students with budgeting is a passion of mine, especially when it comes to college expenses (hence the column name Tara’s on a Budget!). As most of you already know, earning a college degree isn’t cheap. Not only are you paying for tuition, but you’re also paying for additional expenses like textbooks, transportation, extracurricular clubs, etc. All these expenses contribute to the overall cost. If you’re not careful, that overall cost can become catastrophic. I would consider myself an average college student. I don’t have an abundance of money at my disposal, so I’ve had to adopt frugal practices to get around the whole money situation.
As a frugal college student, I wanted to share the 3 best money saving tips from my previous blog posts.
1. Re-purpose everything
In a moment of desperation for money, I came up with the 3 R’s: Repair, Reuse, Refurbish. This is something that really works when trying to save money.
• The first R is Repair. If something is broke, whether it’s your electronics, furniture, or clothing, fix what you can before buying something new. The Internet is a powerful tool filled with tutorials on how to fix things─ so use it!
• The next R is Reuse, and by reuse I mean sell your old stuff and use someone else’s! Go through your closet, gather up the stuff you don’t use, and sell it. I love doing this because it saves me money and clears out space. I also go to my friends for things I need, especially textbooks. When I enroll in a new class, I utilize my social media networks and see if anyone has that textbook. I do this for pretty much anything that I might need that I foresee being costly. Pinterest is a great way to find ways to create new things out of stuff you already have.
• Which brings us to the last R, Refurbish. Being a college student today requires technology. Classes are online, homework is submitted online, tests are online… so basically everything is online. Buying the latest laptop can put a big dent in your wallet. Why not opt for a refurbished option? You may think because it is refurbished it won’t work as well, but that’s not true. Refurbished items were once “broken,” then fixed and resold. Sometimes they’re barely used and re-stocked. Either way, they are much cheaper than buying brand-new. I got my Macbook Air refurbished. I’ve had it for two years now and it works perfectly.
2. Opt for generic brands nine out of ten times
Believe me, I love the brand name water bottles as much as the next person, but sometimes buying elite names when you’re on a budget really isn’t the best answer. When I go to a store that offers generic brands, I ask myself: If I buy generic, will I really notice the difference? I frequently found myself saying no because it’s true. Did you know that, in many cases, the same manufacturer makes both the generic and brand name product?! This means there’s no difference at all (well, except for the price). I did a little experiment when I went to my favorite big box store to show you how much you’d save buying solely generic products. I chose 6 items and compared the prices between generic and name brands. Read my blog post to see how the amount you save adds up over time.
3. Don’t buy what you don’t need
When I first heard this statement I probably just rolled my eyes and thought, obviously! But when I took the time to really internalize it, that simple statement really changed the way I budgeted my money. I want you to think about all the things you bought in the past month. Once you’ve got a good idea on what those expenses were, ask yourself: Did I really need this? Likely, the answers will be no. I ask myself this question a lot now, especially when I’m out and feel the urge to buy something. More often than not, the item I wanted to buy was not something I needed in order to live or succeed. Applying this concept to your budget starts with YOU. Any time you want a different outcome, you have to change something.
As Blogger and budget aficionado, Tara K. helps students across the country enhance their knowledge about money management and everyday life. She is constantly looking for new ideas to transform into great advice for you. Pursuing a journalism major, Tara K. has a passion for the art of inquiry, which is conveyed through her writing.