by Ivone Rodriguez
If you’re currently a college student, then you know the struggle of buying overpriced textbooks and making payments on exponentially growing tuition fees. Once the school year gets rolling, expenses start to add up quickly, especially if you live off campus. Between paying your bills on time and keeping track of other finances, budgeting is the one thing people I know and I have struggled with throughout college. Here are my tips on what you can do if you’re short on money, what options you have when looking for a job and how to keep your sanity while being in school.
College is hard. Sometimes your schedule is nothing but back-to-back classes, and you have that one night class once per week that lasts three hours, but you have to take it because it’s not offered at any other time. Because of complicated schedules, it’s hard to find a job that will accommodate you. You could work an evening shift at Sam’s or the mall, but after an entire day of classes, it can be exhausting. Work study has been a lifesaver for me; I used to be a receptionist for an insurance company twice a week and didn’t work many hours because of my busy schedule. Last semester I worked two jobs on campus in between and after classes and didn’t have to worry about commuting halfway across town. Another perk was the open communication I could have with my supervisors if I ever needed a day off to work on a project. My job gave me a sense of purpose without the additional stress most off-campus jobs cause.
- Check out Handshake for job listings on and off campus. It’s like an internal LinkedIn website created by Colorado Mesa University. They even have listings for internships, both locally and remotely.
- Fill out FAFSA. It’s free, and it’s required if you plan on getting a job on campus.
You need to learn how to budget if you don’t want to end up broke now and in the future. You’re probably thinking going out to eat a few times a week won’t hurt, but you’d be surprised how much you actually spend on food or extracurriculars. That $10 you spent on a burrito bowl from Chipotle with extra guac could’ve been strategically spent on groceries that would also be a healthier alternative (Chipotle isn’t the worst fast food out there, by the way). There are tons of videos on YouTube on how to eat when you’re on a budget and how to recreate your favorite restaurant meals. Learning how to cook is a great skill that anyone can learn and you shouldn’t be intimidated if your cooking abilities are limited to making ramen. In the long run, homemade cooking is better for you and your wallet.
- Download Mint. It’s a money managing app that shows how you spend your money.
- Check your bank account. I’ve heard too many stories of unauthorized transactions and accounts that had to be shut down. Plus, this will force you to see how you spend your money.
- Use your credit card more frequently. A lot of college credit cards have cash back rewards the more you buy with it. Just make sure you don’t get behind on payments!
- Check for coupons. City Market is my go-to store because they offer digital coupons that I can download to my loyalty card straight from my phone. What’s even better is you start to rack up fuel points on each purchase.
Don’t forget about yourself. Taking the time to be with yourself and indulging in self-care is super important to your overall wellbeing. Between keeping your GPA up, work, extracurriculars and anything else you have going on, we often spread ourselves out to thin and put our needs on the backburner. Go on a walk. Paint your nails. Bake some cookies. Hike with a friend. You don’t have to splurge on a weekend trip to clear your mind. If there’s anything I’ve learned in college so far, it’s that you have to make yourself a priority so you can be the best version of yourself in all aspects of life.
Here’s to fall semester!
Author’s note: Ivone Rodriguez is a senior studying Mass Communication at Colorado Mesa University. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance graphic designing and being outdoors.