Wednesday, September 16, 2015

College Advice #3: Financials


As much as I hate to admit it, money is a massive, massive part of college. You need money to go to college, you need money to enjoy yourself in college (Starbucks isn’t free, sadly). You need money for books, for tuition (those loans come from somewhere), for supplies, for coffee, for snacks, the list is endless. College is pretty much a money pit, but at least you get a nice little education out of it. I suppose it’s a fair trade once you’re out. And I might be a little bitter because I’m writing this as a student who just paid way too much for her textbooks because she waited last minute yet again and had to get them from the bookstore. My pauvre coueur, right?

Loans 

This is an option that many students choose to pay for their education. It could be the only way that students can afford their education. Government loans are the bane of every graduates existence, but for those four (or however many years you need them), they are your savior. They are both life-ruiners and heroes, saving you from paying out of pocket...and then stealing your money months later after you graduate. Definitely talk to your parents/financial aid advisor/bank/etc about loans if this is something that you're leaning towards in order to fund the rest of your college career.

Entertainment

You’re going to want to go out in college. It’s going to happen. There’s going to be a cool concert going on or an event or you’re just going to want to get your daily coffee from a cafĂ© (or let’s be real, it’s probably going to be Starbucks). You’re going to want groceries (okay, so chocolate and Goldfish) or a new mascara or something. Something is always going to come up. You can’t avoid paying for leisure activities or food, even with free campus events and a meal plan.

Jobs

Unless you managed to save an insane amount of money before you came to college, chances are you're going to need a job. I went my entire freshmen year without a job, but I also didn't have a car my freshmen year so I didn't have to worry about gas money or driving to Target once a week. I'd go to CVS occasionally and would rely on my meal plan or whatever food  I picked up when I went home with my parents.

Sophomore year, I needed a job. Like, bad. It got to a point where I was crying to my mom on the phone about being broke and it was a big issue. Luckily, my boss was a knight in shining armor and hired me the next month so I could actually afford gas money home and didn't have to text my brother to discreetly send me $50 through an app so I could get by until the next time I came home and could mooch off of my parents.

I'm sure I could do a whole separate advice posts about jobs (both during the school year and during the summer), but basically, just make sure that they know you're a student and that you have a heavy (or light!) workload up front. See if you're allowed to do work while you're there if it's slow and you've done everything you possibly could. And definitely make sure that it doesn't take away too much time from academics. Finding a balance between work and school life is an incredibly important skill, but a part-time job should never affect your work in a negative way. It's definitely an adjustment, but if it's a consistent downhill action with your grades, maybe that job just isn't for you.

Be Smart With Your Money

You're free, you're on your own, you're an independent person as a college student. Take that seriously! I am a firm believer in treating yourself, but I am also an excessive person who will celebrate almost everything. Try to keep a clear line between you you need and what you want. Don't be the person who constantly prioritizes leisurely items over necessities, like food or shampoo or gas money. Save when you can, whether it's putting money away or using coupons or waiting for sales. This is a weird part of your life where you can still afford to be carefree, but at the same time, you have to watch your expenses because they do add up and nobody wants to call up their parents crying.

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