With the cost of admission, room and board, books and a variety of other school supplies, college students can be financially strapped at the beginning of each new semester. Saint Mary's seniors Sara Niemann and Aimee Cunniff, both business administration and economics majors, have, however, devised several tips students can follow to spend less and save their hard-earned cash.
"I would say the first thing that I do when I'm trying to save money is have something that I'm trying to save for, some sort of goal," Niemann said. "Like when I was a sophomore I knew I was going to be studying abroad so I knew that if I wanted to have more money to spend over there I should be more thrifty here."
According to Cunniff, another way to start building up a bank account is to set a budget. Having a budget can prepare students in advance for what expenditures they may have each month. Students can also plan ahead for leisure spending, she said.
"Budget how much you want to spend off campus every semester. I know a lot of students get sick of the dining hall and like to eat off campus but that can get expensive really quickly. So it's a good idea to set aside a certain amount every month of what you are willing to spend off campus," she said.
Budgeting can be one helpful way to avoid overspending and overdraft charges from the bank.
Another helpful trick, Cunniff said, is to be mindful of what is being purchased. If students only buy things that are truly necessary, they will not be wasteful with their money.
"A lot of people don't realize how much just a morning coffee can add up as opposed to buying a coffee machine and making coffee in the morning," she said. "Take some time to do research and shop around if it's a standardized product. If it's clothes or books or music, really think about if you really truly need it."
Niemann agreed it is important to determine the value of an item before buying it.
"When I go shopping, whether it's at the grocery store or at a department store, if I find something that I want to buy I try to take five minutes and walk around and decide if I really actually want to buy it and if it's actually a good enough deal," Niemann said. "If in 10 minutes you feel that it wouldn't be a good purchase then you can kind of walk away from it easier."
Another way students can save money, she said, is by using coupons and watching for discounts locally. By checking sales in local stores, students can spend less on things that they need to buy.
"I'd say one of the biggest ways is to try and check out some more low priced things in your area. It sounds kind of silly but even getting the Sunday paper and clipping coupons for things that you know that you're going to have to buy — shampoo or toothpaste and that stuff can kind of add up if you save a few dollars here or there," she said. "And then also checking out places like Salvation Army and Goodwill not just for things like clothing but if you need a new lamp in your room or something like that."