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How I Cut My Expenses, College Style

Robyn Duncan -- If you don't have a job -- and even if you do -- college can be expensive. One college student proves how it's possible to save thousands of dollars, survive the college budget, and even fund a graduation nest egg.

"The struggle is real" is an expression that is all too familiar to me and college students everywhere. I don't have the luxury of having my parents pay for everything, I am getting through college the new age way: loans and a part time job. As I start to begin my senior year, it has hit that I'm going to need a nest egg when I graduate, because I won't have my loan money come in two weeks later. So within the past year I've learned a thing or two of how cut my expenses and save some money.

First thing I looked at was my bills and what I could do to cut them down. I quickly realized my $190 cable and Internet bill has got to go. Internet is a must, so I switched to another company to get a new customer discount. I got a higher speed internet and only pay $35 a month. I also decided to get an Apple TV box to help with the cable withdrawals. I already was paying for Netflix and Hulu, so just had to pay the "one time fee" for the box (which was cheaper than any one month I was paying

The next bill was my $105 phone bill. This was a hard one for me because I live on my phone. The optimal solution was to give up my iPhone, and get a Go Phone with unlimited talk, text, and data for $50 a month. However, I am weak and I did the next best thing I could think of. I combined my plan with my boyfriend and ended up saving me $30 on my bill each month. CAUTION: I don't suggest you combine any bills, unless you are prepared to deal with the possible consequences of it. It's a tricky thing when it comes to your name and bills, just make sure you trust the person with your money.

Then I had to cut down my "extra-curricular activities", aka partying. No, I did not stop drinking but I got smarter about it. I started to only go out on nights that had specials, like the $3 Hollers or $2 Ladies night. On the weekends, I learned how to drink at home. Instead of spending $40 at the bar, it changed to a 12 pack for $13.99. I ended up saving close to $75-$100 a month from not going out every Friday and Saturday night.

The next thing I had to cut was my food and Starbucks costs. Yes, we all know that Starbucks is highway robbery for coffee drinkers. Although I didn't get the "Artisan Drinks", a black coffee a day would still cost me $3 a day. I started to do the obvious thing and made my coffee at home, for cents a cup. Getting into the routine was the hardest part, but saving $21 a week on coffee helps. If I didn't make it at home, then I stopped at the Circle K for $0.99 coffee. I also learned how to shop sales and couponing for groceries. What I never knew about the grocery stores is that there is always a sale going on. To get the max benefit from this, you do have to spend some time shopping the sales from different stores. The ads are available online, so you can plan what you need to get from each store. There are also stores that ad match, which I suggest so you don't waste gas going from store to store. Coupons are available online through the manufacturer or the retailer that can go on top of sale prices. For example, at Publix they had "BOGO" on smoothie drinks for $3.40 a bottle and online they had a coupon for buy 4 get $3.00 off. I bought 4 bottles for $3.80, and saved myself almost $10.

So within a year I've cut my spending by at least $350 a month. It is easy to survive the college budget, if you are disciplined and willing to give up some things. To date, I've been able to put $2,000 in the graduation fund and counting.


© 2014 Robyn Duncan

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