Life in college can be rough as you try to keep your grades up, stay social, and pay off your student loans. What makes college difficult is that it is filled with all sorts of trade-offs. You can make an A by studying hard the night before a test, or a C because instead you went out dancing. You can work a lot to earn money, but that can cut into the time you spend at meetings for an organization you joined. There are items that are worth the splurge, while others can be left behind. Trade up the items that are not so important so that you don’t empty your (or your parents) bank account, but don’t think cheap when it comes to certain purchases. Here are some of the most common ways in which college kids spend money, and my opinion whether they’re worth the big bucks or something you should pass up for another day.
1. Computer: As a college kid, you pretty much spend most of your day on the computer. This includes taking notes, writing research papers, watching TV shows, downloading music, and checking Facebook. This is an essential item and one that you should go all out on. Purchasing a nice computer is a great idea because the better computer, the faster it is, the more memory it can store, and the longer battery life it has. In addition, when you are in school, there are amazing discounts on computer programs that you can only get while you’re a student. Yes, a computer is expensive. I recently just bought one, and can definitely vouch for that. However, the convenience alone is worth having it, and I never have to search for class notes again.
2. Organizations: It might just be me, but joining an organization on campus is a great way to get involved, meet new friends, and gain valuable skills that can look good on a resume. Almost every group on campus though is going to have a annual fee. Depending on the organization it can range from $20 to a couple $100, such in the case of a sorority or fraternity. Joining an organization can provide networking opportunities as well, that can benefit you in the long run. I have never regretted the money I have spent when joining a group. For me it is always worth it.
3. College Ring: Plain and simple, you do the work so you deserve it. If you or your family can’t afford it, then ask for donations. I read in The Battalion last semester that a group of friends came together to buy their friend their ring. Great story!
4. Business Clothes: Another must have that is worth the money is business clothes. If you are a freshman or sophomores this might to be as important, but for juniors and seniors who start interviewing for internship and jobs it is a must. Everyone needs to have a suit or some dress pants for professional settings. It is important to look nice in order to get noticed and land the job. Business clothes aren’t cheap, but invest in a nice blazer and slacks so that you have them when they are needed.
Not Worth It:
1. Pets: I know some people might not agree with me, but I think owning a pet “in college” is not a good idea when you are trying to save money. Pets are adorable, friendly, and can be great companions, but they are expensive. Pet deposits can range from $300-$700, you will have to budget for pet food, and expect to drop down a couple hundred dollars every time you visit the vet. My advise, wait to get a pet after college, when you’re settled into your first job, and if you need one that bad, get a fish.
2. Living Alone: I guess I’ll start this statement with, if you have the means to live alone, and want to, then go ahead, but for everyone else that are trying to save every penny, it might not be the best idea. Having roommates can have its problems, but it will help when it comes to paying rent. At one time, I had five people living in a four-bedroom house (one girl slept in the living room) and though it was a weird set-up, it made my rent so cheap. Find great roommates and stick it out, because living alone is just too darn expensive.
3. Buying Designer Clothes: For those ladies and gentlemen who have a craving for fresh leather jackets, sterling silver wristwatches, and labeled handbags, don’t throw your money away on the glamor. Spend your money wisely on the items you need, and get more creative with your shopping. Trust me, people are more impressed when you find an amazing outfit for under $50 than one from the runway. Like pets, wait till you land your first job before you buy those pricy items.
Saving money is a big deal in college. Spending wisely can help you in the future, however, there are some items that are worth the splurge. It is up to you to figure out what is most important to you so that you can pass up others things in order to save for something else.