Nowadays, being a frugal college student is a rare thing. It must have something to do with the fact that financial education is non-existent. What little that we do have, from what I remember in high-school, is provided by credit card companies that come onto the campuses and “teaches” us how to use our credit cards wisely.
I wonder why we were never formally taught that there are alternatives to getting into debt? Ah yes, because it would be more profitable for the credit card companies.
If you were lucky, you were born into a family that manages its finances well and actually discusses it. You probably picked up key strategies for saving money, making money grow, and not wasting your money. In that case, then this website is a refresher course for you.
If you were like me, then you probably discovered credit cards at one of those kiosk in front of your Humanity building and, hey look! they were giving away free T-shirts to anybody who signs up for a card.
At first, that credit card was just there with a measly $500 limit. Then, you found that you could use it to pay for your textbooks and keep your financial aid money for later “just in case.” Then, one day, it was your best friend’s birthday and you all went out to a fantastic dinner and you’re short a little cash, so you offered to pay with your credit card if everyone would give you their cash. Of course, you spent the cash before the bill arrived. Next thing you know, you’re thousands of dollars in debt and there was no way you could pay if off quickly.
Funny how most people were like me.
Yes, credit card debt and senseless spending is a part of college life.
So what would it be like to suddenly become a frugal college student?
Well, it might mean that you are going to have difficulty treading the same path that your friends are on (which may not be a bad thing). When that big birthday bash comes, you might have to give a small gift and invite your friend to something more intimate and affordable later rather than plunking down $50 for a present and another $50 for dinner, drinks, and entertainment.
When Spring Break comes around, you might not go with all your buddies to Cancun, or Tiajuana, or skiing, or any number of really expensive trips that everyone agrees you must do NOW while you’re still young. You might go on a quiet camping trip up the coast in your rat-trap of a car with a couple of buddies, sleeping bags, and your surfboard.
When your girlfriends go shopping at Banana Republic and plop down $75 for a cute top, you might just try on clothes…but leave your money at home. Your clothes may all come from thrift stores or vintage shops, fashionable but cheap.
There will be a lot of time when you might be disappointed that you can’t participate..and there will be a lot of time when you offer an alternative that’s more creative and more fun.
You are after all young. Fun and living should be a part of your everyday lives. But, you don’t have to live in debt. Why? Because when graduation day arrives (otherwise known as THE FIRST DAY OF THE REST OF YOUR LIFE), you don’t want to be $15,000 behind the starting line. Which is where everyone else will be.