By Carolynn Wall
The average yearly cost of tuition at a four-year institution for an in-state student is a little over $9,000. Add in your books, various fees, housing, food and all the extra costs of going to school, and you’ve got a lot of broke college students struggling to make payments. With an average amount of nearly $30,000 in debt for each student graduating from college, we need to learn how to cut corners and make every dollar count. So here’s few way to keep you and your wallet happy all semester long.
1. App Up Your Life
There are tons of apps out there that will earn you rewards and discounts on various items. For example, Pocket Points is based off a point system that can earn you discounts and free rewards just for locking your phone during class. You can redeem your points at local businesses like Grindhouse or Bulldog Laundry.
“I love Pocket Points because it motivates me to put my phone down and actually get my work done. Plus, on Tuesdays you get double the points!” says Jamie Pham, a junior biochemistry and molecular biology major from Lawrenceville.
2. Use Your ID
You paid $20 for your UGA ID which seems like a lot, but you can get a lot back from it. Tons of businesses offer student discounts, from Chipotle to Subway, and Vineyard Vines to J. Crew. Even if you don’t know, always ask, especially when making a big purchase.
3. Movie Night
Feel like you’ve exhausted what’s on Netflix? Have no fear, the library is here. You can go rent movies for free from the library’s mammoth collection. Going to the movie theater is outrageously expensive, but if you still want the movie experience, check out the Tate theater for your viewing pleasure.
4. Meal Plan? Use it.
As college students, we’re constantly eating, whether out of stress, exhaustion or true hunger. It’s hard to not want some variety in your diet, but if you’re on meal plan, you have to cut down on the outside spending. Try to mix it up by rotating around the different dining halls, like treating yourself to lunch at the Niche every once and awhile. The dining halls offer endless combinations right at your fingertips, so take advantage of it and get your money’s worth.
“It’s easy to eat the same things everyday and get bored of the dining halls, but I spent a lot of money to be on meal plan and I don’t want it to go to waste, says Felix Linzan, a junior business management major from Hinesville. “I try to see what kinds of things my friends are eating or find the dining hall equivalent to whatever I’m craving.”
5. Housing Programs
If you live on campus, you see tons of posters all over your dorm and get endless emails about different activities to attend. You pay a $20 fee that allows your housing staff to put on programs for your benefit. Often times these programs include food, fun activities or interesting speakers to help you bond with people in your community, so it’s like dinner and a show. These events are great for networking and support of your RHA-- and who doesn’t love free food?
6. Never Pay Full Price for a Textbook
Buying books for full price is a thing of the past. There are so many alternative options out there to cut the costs of books down. Amazon, Chegg and BookRenter are a few online outlets, or you can hit up Beat the Bookstore, Baxter Street Bookstore and the UGA Bookstore. Also, look for an online copy of the book or an access code, as those will be even cheaper. Finally, check with your friends or the UGA Free and For Sale page on Facebook for killer deals.
7. Never Go Grocery Shopping When You’re Hungry
If you’re off meal plan, you can get really creative about what you eat. However, sometimes people end up buying items in the spur of the moment that they don’t actually need. Combat this by having a set list with specific dishes in mind as you go shopping. Look for generic brands on items that you feel are less important and never go in with an empty stomach. Stick with your list and don’t let your wandering eyes talk you into those extra food items that will go bad before you can even get to them.
We all love a great cup of Jittery Joe’s roast in the mornings to help get our day started, but even a couple cups a week can add up pretty quickly. Try bringing your own mug to coffee shops to get discounts on your cup of joe, or see if an investment on a coffee machine is worthwhile for you. Another alternative solution is to try to cut down on the caffeine and look towards energy smoothies and protein.
“I am a caffeine addict and always have a cup of coffee in my hand”, says Anjelique Simmons, a junior German major from Stone Mountain. “Sometimes when I need a refill during the day, I ask the barista to fill up my reusable mug and even get discounts on the price--it saves the environment and it saves me a couple bucks every week."
9. Test Out Of Classes
We’ve all gone through a prerequisite class that is mind numbingly boring. Instead, you could test out of those classes to save on tuition and get on to your real major courses. The Testing Center schedules tests for a small fee compared to what you would be paying in tuition and you can avoid those painfully easy courses that you only show up to for the attendance grade.
Although it may seem kind of lame to spend a bit of your time clipping coupons, you’d be surprised to see how much money you're just throwing away in a newspaper or advertising. Even online coupons, like Groupon, can help you save a dollar or two here and there. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up and you’ll thank yourself later.
Keep your money safely guarded Bulldogs. Make a budget and stick to it! None of us want to graduate and be faced with a mountain of student loans, so make smart choices now to avoid the bills later. A cup of coffee here and an extra outfit there can add up faster than you can imagine. College isn’t cheap, but you can make it cheaper.