Small changes to save big bucks

Small changes to save big bucks

Finance can be one of the most stressful parts of collegiate life. If the unavoidable costs of tuition, rent and other necessities are piling up, we have several ways to help you manage your money, cut down on expenses, regain a sense of control and even reduce your future debt burden.

Little things add up

Money can disappear faster than you realize. Budgeting sounds difficult, but there are several programs that can help you track your payments and identify areas of overspending. By cutting down on expenses like entertainment services, new clothes or coffee from Starbucks, you can have more freedom in the future to buy something you need or want.

There are various services available to help you categorize your spending. For example, mobile banking apps automatically connect to your debit and credit cards and log your expenses. There are also third-party apps, such as Mint, that organize all your spending and keep you on track for bill payments.

Use available resources

Utilizing your meal plan is a small and easy way to save money. While the on-campus restaurants and dining halls may not be five-star establishments, they offer variety and are accommodating of many dietary restrictions. Plus, taking advantage of these options prevents too many unnecessary restaurant bills from draining your bank account.

While dining out is an enjoyable way to spend time with others, there are other (and cheaper) ways to fulfill this social need. One alternative is cooking — a life skill that many lack. Learning to cook with someone else is inexpensive, fun and can strengthen a relationship even more than being served at a restaurant could. Plus, you can save even more by purchasing ingredients from the POD market with meal plan dollars!

According to a 2018 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, over 7 million college students qualified for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP); however, only 31 percent of them applied and received assistance. Students experiencing food insecurity can search the SNAP eligibility page on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website for information about benefits. Any current WKU student or employee can also visit the WKU Food Pantry, which offers free nonperishable food and toiletries to those in need.

Get work

College can feel like a full time job, which causes many students to be reluctant to find work. However, on-campus jobs allow flexibility and understand that school is your first priority. Some jobs, like being a desk assistant at residence halls, have ample downtime that allows student workers to complete coursework — and get paid while doing it.

As you prepare to graduate, it is also beneficial to apply for resume-boosting jobs or work that relates to your major. There are a limited number of on-campus job opportunities, but in 2020, the world is your campus. Seek out remote jobs and internships that you can do from anywhere.

Walk the walk

It is one thing to talk about saving money and another thing entirely to practice it. Sticking to a budget isn’t always easy, but when bills become a reality and you enter a world where debts must be paid, it becomes essential. Beginning to practice good habits now can save you thousands of dollars and set you up for financial success in the future.

Buy and sell

The price of a brand new textbook is typically not a small number. Facebook Marketplace and specific groups such as WKU Marketplace are platforms that can be used to find affordable books or to sell your old ones. You can also rent or buy eBooks for a lower cost, or even find free PDF versions of some.