10 Expenses College Students Should Eliminate
Apr 05, 2012
Most college students must take out student loans to pay for their education. Many add to their debt load by purchasing nonessential items on a credit card. Learn about 10 expenses that students would do well to cut - and alternatives that can help individuals avoid a life of deprivation.
1. Stop downloading songs.
At about a buck a song, downloading the latest hits may not seem like a big deal. But downloads can add up quickly, and they represent the type of cumulative expense that can ultimately get college students into hot water financially. Instead, listen to eclectic Internet radio stations, use popular 'freemium' services like Spotify that don't require payment or check out CDs at the library. Many libraries also offer patron access to song downloads that are free and legal.
2. Avoid purchasing expensive clothing.
It may seem important to have a dozen pairs of skinny jeans or the latest, hottest outerwear, but clothing costs are among the most significant contributing expenses to student credit card debt. Thrift shops, value stores and hand-me-downs from family members or friends all represent good alternatives to the high retail cost of fashion.
3. Check out of buying new books.
Many colleges offer textbook rental programs that allow students to skip out on the high cost of required course resources. Used textbooks are also widely available online and in college bookstores. Some students are turning to digital textbooks as another way to cut down on college costs. Books for pleasure can be checked out at the library.
4. Give up at least one bad habit.
Smoking and drinking are obvious examples of bad habits that, in addition to being bad for one's health, are extraordinarily expensive. Other examples of less deadly but still expensive habits are fancy coffee shop beverages and convenient but unhealthy delivered foods. Substitute each bad habit with a good one such as exercise or healthy cooking.
5. Cancel the cable.
Cable television is a monthly expense that can easily be avoided. YouTube, Hulu and other video-streaming sites feature free access to many popular television shows, movies, sporting events and other programming. All that's needed to tap into this world of entertainment is an Internet connection, a cost justified by its educational purpose.
6. Park the idea of having a car.
In many situations, having a car on campus is completely unnecessary. Most colleges and universities are very walkable and feature on-campus transit options that are free to students. Plenty of institutions also subsidize the cost of bus or rail travel in the city or region around campus. Given the exorbitant costs of gas, insurance and parking, keeping a car off campus is a great way to save.
7. Avoid unnecessary bank fees.
Fees for getting money from an out-of-network ATM can be up to $5. Many banks are also implementing savings and checking account fees. Students should do their homework before joining a bank, making sure to avoid account charges by shopping around for the best terms. Opting out of expensive overdraft protection is another way to save.
8. Skip spring break.
Spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to spend a few days in a sunny locale is a tradition among college students, but it's totally unnecessary. Given that many students fund spring break adventures with a credit card, the actual cost these travels can be a lot more than expected after interest is factored in. Take advantage of spring break to have a low-cost staycation.
9. Avoid seeing movies in theaters.
Movie tickets often cost $10 or more, and that's before buying popcorn and a beverage. Look for alternative options to seeing movies in the theater, including free movies in the student union or other on-campus opportunities for cash-strapped students. You can also find movies online (see #5), borrow from a friend's film collection or check out DVDs from the library.
10. Limit eating at restaurants.
Meals at restaurants are expensive and should be reserved only for special occasions. Cooking with a group of friends can be a cheap and fun way to try new dishes, swap recipes and strengthen friendships. Date night doesn't have to mean going out for a special meal either. Instead make a romantic dinner for two at home.