Saving dough in college

Saving money in college is hard but if you are smart about it and set up a budget life will be a lot less stressful

college is creeping around the corner.

Every once in a while you can hear some strange word over the announcements like “nav-y-ance”, and around sophomore year, counselors will come about once a semester and interrupt the daily English lesson to talk to us about something about college.

Well it turns out that Naviance thing and what those counselors are saying is actually important. A big thing you will hear from them is “college debt”. Yeah, that’s a scary thing to think about when you’re a sophomore or junior with no clue where you’re going yet. And even for you seniors who realize how much you are going to be spending or end up owing for your education.

It turns out there is a tool to helping you stay ahead of the game and save a little cash when going off to college and no it isn’t some way to steal money or anything, but it is called a budget. I’m sure you have heard of this, but the key is to actually plan it all out and stick to it.

I got to sit down with our very own Mr. Gergen to talk about how he would go about saving money during college.

In order to to save money Mr. Gergen told me, “Your first determination is your biggest expense, which is tuition and you also have to consider if you will have scholarship money.” Other things to keep in mind will be whether you are commuting or living on campus. If you are living on/near campus you need to think about rent, how much food will cost, and if you will have roommates.

The last piece of advice Mr. Gergen had to give me was to branch out. Next year some of us might find that we will be living with our buddies from high school but don’t be afraid to branch out and meet new people”

— Mr. Gergen

According to Mr. Gergen, one of the best ways to save money in college is to commute if you can. That way your only expense is going to be gas and tuition. If you can’t commute, (and you aren’t on a full scholarship) then you are going to need to get a part time job.

“If you don’t have the money to live off campus, then you will be working as well as being a full time student,” said Gergen

I asked Mr. Gergen to give some advice to a senior who would be moving out next year and he told me, “Don’t be afraid to move back home.” He told me that parents would welcome back their kids.

The last piece of advice Mr. Gergen had to give me was to branch out. Next year some of us might find that we will be living with our buddies from high school but don’t be afraid to branch out and meet new people.

I also got to talk to Fox 19’s Simply Money advisor Amy Wagner to answer some questions about saving money in college. She told me the best way to save some money is to plan out a budget and stick to it. Don’t go spending extra money when you can’t afford to.

Amy Wagner’s easy method to save money,“Set up a budget and stick to it!”

I asked her what things need to be considered when planning a budget.

“Wants versus needs-what are the things you really need to complete a semester at school?  Food plan for on-campus eating, money for occasional meals off campus, gas money, supplies, etc”. A big part of planning your budget is starting with the basic needs and work it out from there.

If you plan on living off campus in an apartment or you don’t have a meal plan, a great way to save money is figure out the closest chain grocery store with an app near you. Download the app and figure it all out.

Wagner said, “I set up lists on my Kroger app and then go to their digital coupon tab and add any coupons to my account that I think I’ll need.” She also said that when grocery shopping you should always have a list. This helps stop you from buying extra stuff.

I also asked her about living near campus and she told me, “These days dorms and apartment buildings will offer granite countertops, high end mattresses and all kinds of perks that you could be paying off years after you have moved out of the place.”

Moral of the story – make sure to check that you can find an affordable place with everything you need. Nothing too flashy or expensive.

I also asked Wagner if she could give any advice to a high school senior who will be moving out and she said, “Don’t take on too much student loan debt. The Simply Money rule for college loans is not to take on any more student loan debt during college than you can reasonably expect to make your first year out of college.”

In other words if you plan on making $45k your first year out of college, then don’t let you debt go over that $45k.

College will be a big scary step for all of us and those words “COLLEGE DEBT” are flashed around in our faces so much it almost makes us not want to go to college.  But if you are smart about how you spend your money and if you have a plan, then taking on college will be nothing short of the best time of your life.

So don’t fret seniors, it’s all going to work out if you have the right mind set.