Saving money in college

Alum give advice about to use money wisely in college

Most Sunday and Monday evenings, college students are usually studying, sleeping or partying. However, 2016 alumni and Coe College freshmen Colton and Quentin White spend their time at the bowling alley. While the Whites may miss some pins, they aren’t missing dollars from their wallets.

“Q and I found multiple cheap bowling nights at different bowling alleys,” Colton White said.

The White twins faced the same dilemma during their freshman year at Coe College that most college students face, which is how to balance having a great time and doing fun things without breaking the bank. Students, like the Whites, found cost-effective ways of eating, having fun and obtaining textbooks.

“Finding cheap activities that the college may fund or or some activities that different organizations put on is key,” Colton White said.

Colleges expose students to the bevy of restaurants and stores available on campus, as well as online shopping. Not having a budget or spending plan in place can lead to overspending and later broke college students.

“What worked best for me is to set a budget early and stick to that framework for spending,” 2016 alumni Zack Reader said.

Reader uses his Mizzou college meal plan to his advantage, avoiding the costs of eating out.

“Sticking with the meal plan goes a long way, especially when close to a downtown area with many food options,” Reader said.

Unlike when parents pulled out the checkbook daily, college is when personal finance class becomes real.

“It can be hard to save money because it feels like you want everything while at college,” 2016 alumni Brenna Reid said. “Being in a sorority, I often want t-shirts and dresses for formals.”

Reid faced sorority fees at Mizzou of over $1,500. To offset this cost, Reid planned online purchases ahead of time and limited her daily spending on food and other activities.

“My mom gives me my money for the week so I basically have to budget when I want things,” Reid said. “The hardest thing was wanting to buy things and not being able to.”

Along with shopping and eating, another major expense is the cost of textbooks. Buying textbooks from campus bookstores can be several hundred dollars per book. However, these costs can be drastically reduced by looking at off-campus retailers, as well as Chegg and other online rental sites.

“Never buy textbooks from the school store unless it’s completely mandatory,” Reader said. “Online options ranging from Amazon selling old book editions to textbook resale on Facebook go such a long way.”

College students can abuse the freedom they have to spend money, and often end up wasting money by constantly spending without budgeting or thinking through the purpose of a purchase.

“The biggest mistake I see in myself and many young college students is our ability to be cognizant of the value of a dollar,” Reader said. “Being young entails a lot of impulse spending and not a lot of insight.”