College Ca$hflow: Staying on Budget
It’s easy to lose track of your spending in college. Shit gets expensive pretty quickly, and you might not realize it until you (or your angry parents) get the bill at the end of the month. Yes, we all know you’ll be raking in a seven-figure salary the moment you graduate, but in the meantime you gotta save that ca$h. Here are JERK’s official tips to stay on budget.
Steal Shit (legally)
No, I am not advocating shoplifting in any way, shape, or form. All I’m sayin’ is that you should use your resources wisely. If you interpret that as smuggling 12 apples, a pitcher of chocolate milk, a couple Ziploc bags’ worth of cereal, and a few extra slices of pizza from the dining hall, then so be it. You obviously planned on eating all of that as part of your meal anyway. Last time I checked, no one had officially quantified the amount of food one meal swipe can get you, so I say the more, the merrier. Don’t forget to throw in a few dozen plastic utensils on your way out. Stocking up in bulk is the way to go.
Of course it’s tempting to order Chinese food or Jimmy John’s every night, but that will add up fast. Make take-out a once-a-week treat and try to stick to the semi-decent choices at your nearest dining hall for the majority of your meals. Supplement with broke-college-kid staples such as ramen noodles, instant oatmeal, and assorted yogurts. It ain’t gourmet, but it’s good enough.
Caffeine is obvs the number one sustenance of sleep-deprived college students everywhere. A day without coffee is basically unthinkable. But your daily run to Starbucks for that $4 skinny vanilla latte will wreak havoc on your wallet. Avoid the expense and the infinite line and head over to People’s Place under Hendricks Chapel instead. A well-known campus gem, yet still underappreciated. $1 for a damn good cup of coffee—can’t beat it. Bring your own reusable cup and they’ll slash the price in half.
Blame it on the a-a-a-a-alcohol:
Nothing will empty a bank account quicker than a few nights at the bars every week. Your intoxicated self is not very financially responsible. Yep, you just blew $50 on a couple rounds of shots for your friends and subsequent late-night snacks on Marshall Street. And if you do not own a vagina, your chances of getting any drinks for free are slim to none. My advice? Pregame with cheap drinks that you can make at home (like these) and then chip in for a bargain pitcher of beer when you go out. You have all of your mid-to-late twenties to prance around chic nightclubs and bars in your city of choice. Hopefully, by then you will have a real job and can afford to sip on top-shelf liqueurs and brightly colored Cosmos. College is a special four years of your life reserved for mass consumption of Natty Lite, Barton’s, and other drinks that taste vaguely of horse piss. Cheers!
Beware of Imaginary Money
Always relying on your SUpercard or debit/credit credit card can be extremely dangerous. Simply swipe and voilà—magic! It all seems so easy and convenient. But remember that somewhere along the line, someone is going to get the bill, and you might be shit outta luck when your balance plunges to $0 within two weeks. Use cash at least once in a while so that you’re more aware of your daily spending. Figure out how much you shell out in a week and search for ways to reduce your costs. You don’t have to become a crazy coupon lady (or man) to find substantial savings.
If you’re still struggling to stick to a budget, check out some of the information available through Syracuse’s Office of Financial Aid. They offer valuable advice for students looking for financial guidance and can help you find a job on or near campus. It’s a great resource right at your fingertips.