Make the most of your student budget by following these money management tips from personal finance planning expert Coleen Pantalone, an associate professor of finance in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.
Lock up your credit card
One of the easiest ways to stretch your budget is to leave your credit and debit cards locked up in your room when you go out. It’s easy to forget that those cards are a form of real money and to use them without thinking much about it, especially on small items. If you have to rely on cold cash, it’s easier to resist making tiny purchases, since what you have to spend is very visible. On the other hand, using your credit card responsibly is a great way to build up credit. But be sure to pay the bill in full each month in order to boost your credit rating.
Make—or bake—your holiday gifts
You don’t have to spend a fortune in order to give friends and family thoughtful gifts. Think about making some of your presents or doing some baking. Also try shopping in second-hand stores and flea markets to find something unique.
Avoid fast-food delivery
Make a weekly or monthly run to the grocery store and buy some staples for those times when you can’t get to the dining hall. If you cook, buy in bulk and split the cost with your friends. Ramen noodles and frozen pizzas are always dependable fallback foods. And try to avoid midnight calls for fast-food delivery. Those add up quickly.
Spend the night with Netflix
Going out on the town can be expensive, so think about eating something before you leave. Or consider staying in: Split the cost of a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu with your friends and spend the night binge watching your favorite TV show and eating the frozen pizza.
Decorate your space with DIY wall art and second-hand furniture
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to make a place look good. Frame some interesting paper or a photo you took, put a new cover on a pillow, or scavenge on trash day to look for cool pieces to add to your space. A little soap and water and paint can make a chair or end table that someone was throwing away look new again. Check out the flea market at SoWa for odds and ends.
Swap your car for your bike
If you have a car on campus, drive the speed limit to increase your miles per gallon of gas. And plan your trips so that you can accomplish multiple errands at once. Parking tickets can add up quickly, so pay attention to where you park and watch out for street cleaning days. Walk or bike when something is close—less than a mile or two if you are walking, five miles if biking. It’s healthier and it saves on gas and wear and tear.