I want to start off this article by saying that the 4 expenses college student should avoid wasting money on are fine in moderation – like most things in life. But most college students go too far and spend too much money on the following 4 money wasters.
#1 – Food
This had to be #1 on the list, because any college student I know loves to eat out or buy pre-packaged food so that they don’t need to prepare their own meals (or simply because fast food tastes better).
Let’s take a look at what an example day might look like for a college student and their eating. In the morning you might get up and ready for the day, head out the door and purchase breakfast on the go with an expensive coffee or latte ($7). Lunch may be at the cafeteria with a friend where you grab a fast food lunch and soft drink ($8). For dinner you go out with friends to a restaurant ($18). On the day you spent $33 on food and drinks alone.
Now compare that to if you were to grocery shop for the week and choose options that are both healthier, but also easier on the wallet. A breakfast and coffee could be half of the $7 you spent. A packed lunch and drink could be $5 or less. And if you avoid dinner out and eat at home you can probably save another $10. That would be about $17 in savings per day, or $119 per week.
Now of course I don’t think it’s realistic to always have food prepared and ready to pack, but if you get in the habit of buying and making your own food instead of eating out you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run.
#2 – Designer Clothes
Style and personal appearance has always been on the mind of college students, but even more so nowadays with all of the social media and celebrities promoting the expensive name brand clothing.
When you’re in college you shouldn’t worry about spending money on expensive clothes. The key word there is ‘expensive’. You can still dress nice and with style without buying expensive clothes.
Online fashion stores are popping up like crazy these days, and a lot of them offer some very nice and well designed clothing for more than half of the price as the big, expensive name brand companies. And if you’re worried about what others think of your style, just dress stylish and don’t worry about the name on the clothes. Most people judging you on appearance won’t even notice name brands anyways.
#3 – Poker/Betting
I’m not sure how popular playing poker is at college these days, but when I was in college it was the big thing at the time. It was mostly the guys playing, but there were always a few females too (and they were usually among the best players!).
Don’t get me wrong, poker can be an entertainment expense and a fun activity, but there is a point when you can lose too much money when playing to call it an entertainment expense. Most people don’t win money long term playing poker, so don’t think of it as a way to earn an income.
The same goes with sports betting. It is very tough to win money betting on sports and there are a lot of college students who will think they are smart enough to beat the sports books, but they end up losing their money.
The takeaway picture here is if you are going to play poker or do any betting make sure you realize you will probably lose that money. Stick to the $5 or $10 poker games on campus that are more for socializing then trying to win money.
#4 – Parties and Spring Break
I’m a believer that you should 100% be involved in social life in colleges, which often times includes parties and spring break getaways, but I’m also a big believer in saving money.
There gets to a point where partying and going to spring break can be expensive and not worth the money spent, and a lot of college graduates who are in debt will tell you that.
My advice here would be to limit the number of parties or events you go to depending on your budget. If you have some money set aside for entertainment expenses, sure go to a few parties, but finding other social activities that don’t cost any money will both probably make you happier in the long run and it will make your bank account happier as well.
Again spring break is something that I think is needed for every college student. It’s a great way to get your mind off school work and enjoy yourself. With that said, you don’t need to travel far away and stay in an expensive hotel or resort with friends to have a good spring break. Try to find a spring break activity closer to home, where you know you won’t be spending nearly as much money.
I don’t like to sound like the fun police, but going through college and having a number of friends recently graduated through college I know that most regret spending as much money as they did on these 4 college expenses. Happy saving!