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Finance: Budgeting college cash and conserving your earnings

By Zach Lederman
On February 6, 2014

Money is always an issue for poor, downtrodden college students. I don't know a single person who doesn't worry about it to some degree. However, saving your money really isn't as hard as it seems. As I myself am a money making - and saving - expert, I've decided to impart my knowledge onto future generations so that, one day, no one will have to eat ramen noodles for more than three days.
The first thing (and I know this might scare some of you to pieces) is to get a job. Now, I know you're thinking, "A job? What do I need a job for? Adults have jobs, and I am most certainly still a youth." Well, I've got good and bad news for you. The bad news is that if you're over 18, you're now an adult with all of the responsibilities that come with it, including having a job. The good news is that you're only a young adult, so nobody really expects you to run out there and get an official position with a major corporation.
Go ahead, get out there and get a job. Yes, you'll have to sacrifice some of your freedom, and getting schoolwork done might be a bit more challenging, but it pays off in the long run. Work somewhere long enough, and not only will you see your pay increase, but you'll also be able to have more say in the hours you work. Get a job and hold it until senior year, and you'll be able to work when you want, for the amount of time you want. Plus, strong work commitment looks great for future potential employers.
So you've got a job, but you're still running low on money? Time to learn your next skill: budgeting. This is really just a fancy word for planning. At the start of every month (or week, if you want to be really thorough), take an hour or two and write down exactly how much you intend to spend on what. It's significantly easier to keep track of your assets, and changes to them, if you plan it out on a regular basis. Ordering food once a week might not seem like a big expenditure when you're ordering it, but once you start to budget and see what it costs each week, you're a lot less likely to spend your money willy-nilly.
Next - and this might be the biggest way I've saved money in my three years at UConn - is to actually go to some school-sponsored events. Yeah, I know, anything sponsored by UConn isn't "cool" to all you awesome freshmen and sophomores, but take it from someone who's been around the block a few more times than you have - school-sponsored events are a great way to have fun and save money. Going to parties (often with high surcharges) and purchasing beverages is expensive. Go to the Union and spend points instead. Want to go out to the movies? Consider going to the Student Union theatre. The movies are all recent (some still in theatres) and cost about six times less than the cost of a regular movie ticket. For snacks, try the Blue Cow where you can get popcorn and soda for less than $3.
As an addendum to going to school-sponsored events, try actually eating at the dining hall. Way too often do kids order out or spend their points because they don't like the food at their regular dining hall. We have more than 10 places to eat, free of charge. Go through the menus (all of which are posted online) and pick one that sounds tasty. Trust me, the food really isn't that terrible. In fact, sometimes it's tastier than anything you can order from Wally's or Ted's.
Look, I know more than anyone how easy it can be to get caught up in all the fun at college and end up blowing money all over the place, but you have to resist. Spread your fun out over the course of the semester, or you'll be eating ramen noodles and dining hall food every night for a month.

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