By KATHY SMITH
Going to college is a wonderful time in a young adult’s life, but a few money tips can help college students get more for their money. Experts agree that careful planning and wise spending can stretch the bucks.
• Budget your money to last. Know what you can spend and know when you’ve spent too much. For some college students, budgeting is a first-ever experience. It may sound hard, but it is not impossible. Keep records of what you spend and compare your spending to what you planned to spend. Keeping your checkbook balanced will keep you from going overboard. Set a little money aside for emergencies.
• Be price sensitive. Comparison shop to save money. Know the community and what it has to offer. Check Consumer Reports Magazine or its online version for product/service comparisons and recommendations. (www.consumerreports.org).
• Use a debit card (check card) instead of a credit card to keep you from overspending. But don’t forget to write down what you spend in your check register or online system.
• If you have subscribed to a full or partial meal plan at school, use it. Don’t leave money on the table by not using what you’ve paid for. The average cost per meal on your meal plan is likely to be less than what you would spend “eating out,” but only if you use it.
• Be careful about how much money you spend eating out. Remember that beverages can really add to your cost – in fact, they may be the most expensive part of a fast-food meal. Get into the habit of ordering regular tap water with ice and lemon/lime to accompany your meal and you will save a lot of money in the long-run.
• Beware of “sales.” There’s no savings if you buy things you would not have purchased unless on sale!