Nearly 20 million Americans attend college each year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Of that number, 60% borrow money to cover the costs. Footing the bill for a higher education can be daunting, and the last thing you need to be worrying about while blazing your career path is how to fund the next four years. This piece offers some fairly painless ways you can cut costs and earn extra money while remaining on top of your already overflowing to-do list.
Start a Business
Starting your own business can help you manage costs while you’re in school and if done well, could even become your full-time career. A funding site like Kickstarter can help generate interest and funding for your product without having to go door to door peddling your wares. To date, the site has helped fund 55,000 creative projects with $950 million in pledges. Therefore, depending on your craft, you can obtain substantial support to finance your venture while keeping ownership over your creativity.
You can also secure funding for your business through other means. Look for assets you can liquidate. For example, if you receive regular structured settlement payments, you may be able to sell your future payments for a lump sum of cash now. You could then use the money to build capital toward your enterprise. You can learn more about selling your future payments at J.G. Wentworth’s Facebook page.
Create a Budget and Stick to It
CNN reported in June of 2013 that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, but financial analysts recommend everyone build a six-month cushion of savings. A budget will aid you in saving for your future.
Start by calculating all your expenditures for a month. Once you’re aware of what you spend, you can resolve where you can cut costs. For example, instead of indulging in eating dinner at restaurants every Friday, consider having more candlelight dinners at home with tasty appetizers. Use a budgeting app like Mint.com to help you track your spending.
Instead of purchasing brand new textbooks, take advantage of used bookstores and e-books. Sell your books once the semester is finished.
For transportation, carpool, take the bus or subway or check out whether Zipcar services are available in your area. Check if the Student Services office offers students who commute any options to reduce their gas bill.
Food costs can be tackled by thinking ahead. Clip coupons, make shopping lists and stick to them—this way you won’t impulsively buy food you don’t need when you get to the store and blow your budget. Thinking ahead will also help when you are deep in the throes of a cramming session the night before an exam and hunger rears its ugly head. Instead of ordering takeout, you can rely on your well-stocked refrigerator for a perfect snack.
Begin to transform your spending habits to save money and become the fiscally conscious citizen you aspire to be. In time, you will be able to spend more extravagantly, knowing you have a thriving savings to see you through the tougher times.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison