By Dr. Beverly Lucas
Few individuals have the luxury of attending college without having a job in addition to classes and course work. Keep in mind that school won’t last forever. There are some things you can do to alleviate the financial strain.
Prepare a realistic budget and stick to it. Controlling finances eases stress and is one of the most important things you can do. If you don’t have a plan, you will spend more money than necessary in every area. The operative words are “realistic budget” and “stick to it.” Your budget will be easier to stick to if it is realistic.
- If you don’t know what you spend, keep track for a month or two. See where your money goes. You may be surprised.
- Budget entertainment (a movie once a month—even if it is a rental, a fast-food burger—use a coupon or order the $1 special).
- Never buy anything on impulse. Always shop with a list. If you need something, put it on your list and buy it. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
- On a tight budget, don’t go “recreational shopping.” Go to the art museum instead. Make a list of free things to do when you want to go out with your spouse or friends. The list will prompt you and you won’t be tempted to spend money you hadn’t planned to spend.
- Use grocery coupons. If you want to, put the savings aside and make that your “rainy day fund.”
- Use your change. Don’t drop it in a jar.
- Barter with friends. Trade baby-sitting, oil changes and dinners. You’ll encourage one another and save money.
- Keep your eyes and ears open for scholarships.