The start of another school year is just around the corner and that means you are probably in the midst of some serious back to school spending. According to an article published on USAToday.com, American consumers are wising up when it comes to back to school shopping. They approach this spending need with a plan instead of doing it the usual way wherein they make it into a one-day shopping event. This is a wise move because a longer period of shopping will allow you to compared prices and wait for any sale events in the future.
It’s nice to go back to school with new stuff and all but you need to seriously consider the limited financial resources that you have. The USA Today article revealed that the average American family is expected to spend $670 for their back to school spending. This amount might even be higher for those who are about to enter or go back to college.
Getting a higher education is one of the most important investments that you will make in your life. However, you need to be careful about your school-related expenses because being irresponsible about it might put you in danger of college debt. Student loans and credit card debts are some of the most popular financial problems of new graduates. You do not want to be a part of this statistic because it can seriously compromise your future financial opportunities.
There are many ways to save for college and it all begins with your back to school spending. It is quite simple to practice smart spending for school expenses and there are two general rules that you need to follow.
Rule 1: Buy what you only need for school
First and foremost, you want to stick to buying only what you need. Not only that, you need to avoid buying expensive stuff if you can get a cheaper alternative – without sacrificing quality of course
It pays to do a little research about how you can save on your back to school spending. For instance, USA.gov said that there are states that offer “sales tax holidays.” This simply means that there are certain times of the year when selected products are not taxed. You may want to find out how this applies in your state so you can schedule your shopping spree accordingly.
For incoming college students, you will need a lot of items – especially when you are moving into a college dorm. Here are some of the back to school spending tips that will help be wiser about your expenses.
- Choose what to buy for your new home. During your college orientation period, take a look around where you intend to live in. Check out places that are already furnished so you do not have to haul too many items from home. A lot of the college dorms are furnished already with the basic things that you need. These dorm rooms are also small so putting additional furniture will make the space even smaller. If you plan on living off campus, there are rental places that have furniture too. This will not only save you money, it will also make moving a lot easier when it becomes necessary. If you have to invest in anything, buy a mini fridge and a microwave. These two can help you save a lot on food costs.
- Keep your old wardrobe. It is also a good idea to keep your old clothes fro college. You do not need a new wardrobe to fit in school. That is just a waste of money. Get your basic clothing and learn how to accessorize them to keep yourself from spending unnecessarily on clothing.
- Abstain from buying a car. Having your own car in college is great but it is not necessary. Your back to school spending fund can be used for more important expenses. If you live on campus, you won’t have a need for a car. And even if you live off campus, most cities have great bus systems that will help you get around. A car will just add to your monthly expenses because you have to spend on gas, maintenance, repairs, etc.
- Forego the college health insurance. Some parents think that college health insurance is a great investment to ensure that their kids will get medical help when they need it. While that is true, there is a way to save money on your health insurance. Tell your parents to keep you in their plan – as long as they have an out-of-state coverage. That should be enough to help you with your health-related requirement while you are away from home.
- Be wise with your computer investment. A computer or laptop is an important investment for college students. However, that does not mean you need to spend on the most expensive one. Find out what you need for school and stick to that. In most cases, expensive computer equipment are more prone to be stolen than the modest ones. You may also want to buy these items and even software programs when you are already in school. That way, you can avail of huge student discounts.
There are other ways to save on your back to school spending that that would depend on what you need to get a degree. Focus on your studies and try not to be too flashy. Remember that you are here to get an education, and not to party.
Rule 2: Plan your school expenses and how you will finance them
The second rule that you need to implement in your school life, specifically when it comes to spending is how you will go about your expenses. Your back to school spending will not only happen before school starts. The bulk of your expenses will happen during the school year. You might want to give some serious thought about this.
According to CollegeBoard.org, there are more than $185 billion in financial aid that is available for college students. There are grants, scholarships, and loans that you can avail. You want to concentrate on the scholarships and grants more than the loans to keep your debt levels to a minimum. To get these, you need to qualify for them. To qualify, you have to make implement certain habits into your lifestyle.
Here are a couple of tips that will help you keep your college expenses from turning into college debt.
- Budget your finances. Regardless if you got a college loan to finance your education or you are one of the lucky few to get full or partial financial support from your parents, you need to budget it wisely. Make sure that you know how much money you have each month and how much of it you are allowed to spend. keep your spending up to a limit so you can control your money.
- Get a part-time job. This is will help boost your financial resources while you are in college. There are so many things that you can do: babysitting, waiting tables, entering the retail workforce, etc. Keeping yourself busy is one way to keep you from spending unnecessarily too. Not only that, the work experience can help you get a job in the future.
- Keep your grades up. Lastly, you may want to focus on your grades because that is one of the key requirements to get a scholarship. You may not be under a scholarship program now but you can apply for the next semester or term. That should help you lower expenses and save more of your money.
Your back school spending does not have to put you in debt. Learn how to live like a student so you do not suffer the consequences of student loans. Do not let student loans make your college education worthless. All it takes is some planning and self-control to make this happen.