Spending Power

| September 18, 2011

I’m officially the definition of a “Broke College Kid.”

Not being a freshman is great, especially since everything in DC is now familiar to me. However, this familiarity also causes some major issues for my wallet.

Freshman year, I was so hesitant to even leave campus or spend money. I wasn’t just trying to be money conscious; I was literally scared to leave campus – and a tad lazy. I charged everything to my EagleBucks (student account) and lived on meal swipes from the dining room.

Times were much different back then. The summer before freshman year, I worked a 9 to 5 fast food job and saved almost every penny. I came to college rollin’ in the dough!

This summer, I worked a 9-5 office job that gained me amazing experience and credibility but unfortunately didn’t earn me a dime.

You’d think I’d be a little more hesitant to spend money, seeing as I have none. However, it seems I have a bit of an illness when it comes to self-control. You literally can’t take me anywhere without buying something.

So, once again, I have some advice for all of you reading this. Keep in mind: I most likely will not be practicing what I preach. But, as the saying goes, do as I say, not as I do.

Get a Job

Find some way to increase your cash flow. Most of us are very fortunate and have parents that help out with food and necessity shopping. But, trust me, you’re gonna want some extra cash for those trips to Urban Outfitters with the girls.

I recently got a babysitting job. I work two days a week after school and have a generous hourly wage. Every week, I put half away for saving and spend the other half almost immediately (no judging).

Most campuses have surrounding neighborhoods filled with working parents in need of some extra help. Try to find something just one or two days a week, so you can at least reimburse yourself from your previous CVS run.

Question Your Spending

Like Mrs. Tuohy said in The Blindside, “Ask yourself: Is this me?” But seriously, do it. And don’t just ask if something is right for you, question how bad you need it. How many pairs of the same style of shoe do you already have? Do you really need leopard print duck tape (in my case, the answer was yes. And I couldn’t leave without hot pink and electric blue either)?

Trust me, you can get by without most things you’re tempted to purchase. If you truly need it, you already have it. If not, mom and dad will probably be willing to chip in on a major necessity.

Clubs: Either be 21 or get there early

Clubbing doesn’t exactly apply to every college kid, but in D.C. clubbing is just another part of our social lives. Most places are 18 to enter, 21 to drink. Cover charges are expensive! So if it’s not “Ladies Night,” “College Night” or “Everyone Gets in Free Night,” you don’t need to go. Generally these themes will have a stipulation for the 18+ kids. Either you get in free or receive a discount on the cover charge before 11 p.m. or midnight. 21+ usually receives free cover on themed nights. So, like it says above: Either turn 21 or get there early, folks!

Keep in mind, going clubbing means you’ll probably have to buy a new outfit, kill your feet in heels and go at least halvesies on a cab. Clubbing is an investment people! Believe me, I’ve got some sad looking feet right now.

Eat on Campus

I know you probably think going to Whole Foods and spending $100 to stock up on groceries is smarter than paying for your cafeteria-to-go meal on campus, but it’s not. Most schools are the same: you get a meal plan included in tuition and it comes with a certain number of EagleBucks-type credit. For the first few weeks, use your EagleBucks! They’ve already been paid for, so why choose to spend real money over imaginary money that can get you real food, drinks and – often – essentials from CVS and is included in your tuition that’s already been paid (or will be eventually).

So hit up that cafeteria and figure out how to make a mean salad just like your favorite restaurant back home. You’ll be proud of yourself for improvising and pleased that your back account is dwindling at least a little slower.

Category: College Confab

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Samantha Stratton

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