Keeping Debt Under Control While in College
By Marjorie Gelso
1. Start paying your loans back immediately. Absolutely do not wait until you graduate, or take that six-month grace period. Why do banks offer a grace period? Because interest still accrues, and once it’s over, they can add it onto your principal balance. That means your interest now has interest built on it. Find out the interest you’re acruing while in school, and pay that back monthly. Pay back more if you can, but at the very minimum, the interest.
2. Work at your college campus tech center, or for a professor. These jobs usually pay over minimum wage, AND they look great on a resume. Even if you’re only grading papers, it’s money.
3. Move off campus as soon as possible. Some colleges require you to live in a dorm for their first year, but not after that. If you’re REALLY into saving money, suck it up and live with your parents for a little longer. My dorm cost $12,000 a year, and I had to leave during summers! Imagine the apartment you can get for $1,000 a month. AND you can have your own bathroom!
4. Kill the college meal plan. Seriously. The food isn’t that good anyway. Learn to cook, and make meals in advance on a Sunday. You can freeze and microwave them.
5. But won’t working interfere with my studying? Actually, no. But partying will. I’m not saying don’t go out ever and be miserable, but try to save it for Fridays and Saturdays. You can study/recover while your meals cook on Sunday, no?
6. Try to keep your odd spendings to a minimum. Coffees that cost $4 a day are probably fantastic. But, okay. Imagine you go to Disney World EVERY day. After a long time, you’d be bored and probably think, “wow, I have to be here AGAIN?” But now imagine you only go once every five years. You’re going to love it each time. Only get a latte or cappuchino on Fridays. You’ll save $20 a week, and that latte will taste a lot better!
7. I’m going to sound like your mother here. But cut the drinking. Not forever though! Don’t buy fancy bottles of wine all the time, and save the seasonal IPAs for holidays, not year round. Boxed wines are the way to go!
8. Are you majoring in writing, psychology, sociology, or a major that most people say isn’t going to be a bright future? I disagree. You want your job to be writing? Get to! Write some easy study guides for Amazon. Write a cook book. Are you from a big city? Write a review of your town! If people are visiting, a guide of Philadelphia or NYC is much easier to keep on your phone than your pocket! People love real, ever day experiences. And you have those! Use them!
Marjorie Gelso is a co-author of http://www.engineered-fitness.blogspot.com. She is a mechanical engineer and a fitness coach. In her spare time, she writes articles and fosters cats.
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