As the recession continues to worsen in the opinions of some, one thing is sure to go on- the lives of college students. With the possibility and reality for some of less financial resources this academic year, the pack is back in full force.
Unemployment has increased substantially across the U.S. Food and gas prices have skyrocketed and the credit market is frozen. Some students have opted to move back home and help their families, while others are taking the economic challenge head on. It’s hard enough finding good employment prospects without work experience and having a complete education, but the weakened job market has made it even tougher for college students. Even if one lands a job, there’s no guarantee that the hours or pay are enough to live on.
So, are we doomed for a poverty stricken school year? No! The challenge is to live effectively on less. For starters, I believe one should create a budget. You can’t always account for the little things that pop up but if you have a ballpark idea of what your expenses are, the chances of you running into financial emergencies become less.
Cutting costs is not as hard as you may initially think. Instead of going to see a movie as soon as it hits theaters, wait a few weeks and see it on campus at Witherspoon Cinema for a fraction of the price. Is dining out killing your pockets? Before you eat out, make sure you’ve used all your dining hall meals. I know eating at the dining halls can be monotonous, but you’ve already purchased the food, so you might as well take advantage of it. Before going grocery shopping, clip coupons. Saving fifty cents here and there can really add up. Ladies, are hair and nail salons breaking your bank? Trade weekly appointments in the salons for monthly appointments and touch up your hair and nails at home during the weeks between. Not only does this save money, but it is a good way to spend personal time away from the stress of school and work. My favorite pastime, window shopping, in recent years, has become torturous and at times damaging to my finances. So instead of going to the mall every time I get the urge to shop, I shop online. There is no distracting music and no pushy salespeople. Shopping pages upon pages of merchandise makes me really assess whether I want to enter my credit card and mailing information and wait days for it to actually get to me. I’ve found that this method of shopping helps me see what I really need versus what I want or could save for and purchase later. In a crowded mall, wants and needs become more or less the same.
With all the news about the recession and money saving commercials, the media has illustrated this time as one of deprivation. And for some it truly is, but if your basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter are taken care of, that ten dollar burger at your favorite restaurant takes the back seat to buying gas to get you to work every day. It is all about perspective and priority. So, I challenge you to live effectively on less!