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Saving for College

Whether you are a graduating senior or a freshmen starting high school this fall, it is never too early to start saving for college. Tuition and room and board are just the beginning of the costs that you will incur. From sporting events, weekend escapades, parking passes, books, it seems that the spending never stops. The following post is a recent graduate’s perspective on the costs associated with the college experience.

Most college students have never lived without the financial support of their parents/guardians. I remember the first time I went to the grocery store. After I checked out, I was perplexed on how I spent 80 dollars on a measly half-filled cart. These realizations do not hit you until you are actually experiencing college.

The Summer Before your Freshmen Year:

Work!! I know that this could be the last time you see your high school friends, but working and saving money is imperative for a successful first semester. Even if you only work 20 hours a week, you could save more than a $1,000.

Many of you will receive graduation money. Make sure you save most of that money for your first semester.

Budget:

My best advice for college first timers is to budget!!

Sit down after your first month of college and look back at the amount you have spent. Eliminate some of the one-time charges that you incurred due to the fact that you needed them to move into your dorm. You should have a good idea of what your schedule looks like going forward and the amount that you will spend each week.

It is important that you budget for fun activities as well as necessary ones. I recommend an excel spreadsheet to track expenses. If you are not tech savvy, I would recommend depositing an amount in your checking account each month that you are willing to spend and then checking your account each Monday to see if you are on track.

How to Save:

Inevitably you will want to spend money on extracurricular activities. From sporting events, to weekend adventures, these activities shape the college experience. While it is important to have fun, it is also important to budget these activities into your monthly expenses. I always tried to set aside a certain amount for the weekend which was normally around $50.

Another way to save money is to buy used books or use online resources to purchase class materials. Many times you will find that your book may be online for free. Generally the most expensive mistake you can make is buying from your college bookstore. Most colleges now have groups on Facebook where you can buy books or clickers from classmates who already had the class.

There are also many ways to save money on room additions such as mini fridges, by using Facebook and Craigslist.

Bike to classes instead of paying for the outrageous parking passes each semester. Many schools have a bus system that students can use for free or a small fee using their student I.D.

After your first year, get out of the dorms and find a reasonable apartment. Most dorm rates are expensive compared to off campus housing options.

Conclusion:

Follow each of these saving tips and you will be able to afford to do more things in college because you have budgeted and planned accordingly.

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