The Broke College Student’s 10 Financial Commandments

It’s still January and New Year resolutions are still quite fresh in my mind….(as they probably are in yours!) Like many people I’ve vowed/sworn/attempted to become better about saving money this year, and I figured writing down some goals/plans of action might help to actually get this resolution off the ground.  So here we have it, a somewhat absurd  comprehensive list of any and all things I plan on doing this year to save some extra money for the college debt that will consume my life school and for fun!

#1- Thou Shalt Not Purchase Starbucks on a Weekly or Daily Basis
Because really? Dropping $5 per drink that brings only temporary pleasure when a Dunkin or convenience or home-brewed cup costs way less? It’s just one of those mindless addictions.

#2- Thou Shalt Not Go on Clothing Shopping Sprees
Be creative with your wardrobe. Research new looks or bring back old ones with the staple pieces you already own. If you feel you MUST go out and get something new, try bargain hunting at consignment stores or even hit up GoodWill. You can find so many treasures there.

#3- Thou Shalt Take Full Advantage of Free Things
Plastic utensils, salt and sugar packs, t-shirts, food, water bottles, pens, pencils, cups, chip clips, bottle openers… You name it, your college probably gives away all sorts of free promotional/organizational trinkets at events or stand-alone tables. Do not spend money on these things, because more than likely you will come across them. This concept also applies to services. Take advantage of Amazon Student free trials (THE FREE 2 DAY SHIPPING IS SO NICE!!!) when you use your school email to sign up for 6 months of Prime service, Spotify promos, and other coupons and promos that probably appear in your inbox from time to time! [Editor’s note: Just recently I took some gallon ziplock baggies to the dining hall with me in order to pack away some lucky charms for breakfast in the dorm. I don’t know if we’re technically allowed to do this, but combined with a store-bought 2-quart container of milk makes for an easy, inexpensive breakfast. Shhhhhhhhhhhh :P]

#4- Thou Shalt NEVER OVERPAY FOR TEXTBOOKS.
For those dumb gen eds that you need? Rent. Off Amazon. Off Chegg.  Get used copies. Don’t buy anything that you don’t anticipate needing in the future. I scored 4 textbooks for under $100 this semester because I put effort into price comparing and really thinking about what I needed. When I did buy a textbook, I used sites like ValoreBooks and Thriftbooks which saves a lot because they’re more often than not, second hand. If you’re into digital copies of textbooks, those are also a great way to save, as they often cost less than hardcover or paperback books. If none of these outlets works for you, consider browsing your school’s student facebook group (if you have one) for students who are just trying to get rid of textbooks and aren’t going to charge an arm and a leg for them.
Also, buying books through your campus’s bookstore is hella expensive. 10/10 don’t recommend. …Unless a professor at your school wrote the books. Or they require an online code. In which case, God help you.

#5- Thou Shalt Always Look For Student Discounts.
Whether you’re trying to eat off campus or go snow tubing (which I’ll be trying to do in a week!) look around and see if any places surrounding your school offers student discounts.  Some companies are empathetic enough to realize that you are giving your right leg to pay tuition and decrease their prices to compensate.

#6- Thou Shalt Use Every Part of the Buffalo.
Brad Bird of Pixar has reiterated to his artists, story-boarders, and computer graphics designers the importance of this phrase and how beneficial being resourceful can be. This is where creativity needs to come in. If you have a project due that requires hard core crafting supplies, check if you can borrow from someone or from a studio or library. Recently, I made my roomie a pinata for her birthday made entirely from paper I had and cardboard from our hall’s recycling bin. Reuse, recycle, reinvent. Ideas can come if you just think hard enough. Use scrap paper for bookmarks, notes for the bulletin board, or even wrapping paper. YouTube tutorials are out there, Pinterest is a goldmine for thrifty, crafty, genius, and re-inventive ideas.

#7- Thou Shalt Constantly Ask Thyself “Is this a want or a need” and “if the brand name is really all that much better”.
I grew up with this. My mother rarely bought things for my siblings and me frivolously. We always made good use of left overs, and looked for the best amount for the best value. I was in Target the other day to buy razors so my legs could be shiny and stop traffic and I was looking through all the options and stopped to ask myself “do I really need 7 million blades and extra rubbery bumpers or am I just being first worldly and I could get by fine with a pack of disposable three-blades and not worry about shaving that much til it gets warmer?”

#8- Thou Shalt Be Conscious of Thy Spending
This is 2017. Tracking your outflow of money with apps, websites, or with special notebooks has never been easier. I recommend *free*apps like Dollarbird, Fudget, Mint, and the Personal Capital tools to help you see where your money goes and therefore gain a higher sensitivity to what you’re spending.

#9- Thou Shalt Save Portions of Thy Paycheck
It will pay off, I promise. Put it in a savings account where you won’t be tempted to touch it.

#10- Thou Shalt Consider Investing in Stock
This is the kind of money you could build by doing hardly anything. Just make sure you do good research on the company and the stock and the dividends to make sure you can still be in a good position if you suffer some loss.

Hope these tips work as well for you guys as I hope they do for me!

💚,
Steph

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