It comes as a surprise to no one that college is expensive. Everyone knows that a lot of college kids do not consider themselves too good to check between their parents’ couch cushions for lost change, to take hours of surveys online for a $5 gift card to Amazon, or to scrape together donations from friends until they have enough to get a pizza (at least partially because the leftovers will serve as meals for the next couple of days). Most college kids shop with the mantra, “Buy whatever is cheapest.” Meijer brand items become your best friend. Your Christmas sweater is definitely from Goodwill, which is the best place to buy those anyway. Your regular clothes also eventually end up coming from Goodwill. Dr. Pepper turns into Walmart’s Dr. Thunder, which is basically as good (and that’s coming from a Dr. Pepper enthusiast). The 5% off coupon on Target’s Cartwheel app seems legitimately exciting. Twelve cents saved is a big deal in college. In light of all this, it can be easy to completely write off the idea of bigger-ticket purchases. However, some of these purchases can be important in college and may last for years beyond graduation.
My parents were gracious enough to buy me a warm parka my freshman year, and I’ll keep it forever!! Or, at least, until I graduate. It is on its third Michigan winter and is still going strong (though I haven’t had to wear it that much yet this year!). A good winter coat is an absolute must when you’re walking outside from class to class all day.
I got a nice fuzzy robe for Christmas my freshman year and I still wear it all the time. It’s more convenient to wear my robe around my house than to use a blanket, and sometimes when my room is really cold, I even sleep with my robe on over my clothes and under all my blankets. It’s a little restricting, but so cozy. Robes aren’t always expensive, but they’re easy to overlook as a purchase that seems really unnecessary; however, if you have a few extra dollars to spare during the colder months, a robe is a really great purchase.
Spotify has a discount for college students ($5 per month instead of $10) on its Premium membership. I held out for a long time, but this summer I eventually gave in and subscribed and I haven’t even thought about getting rid of it since. Though this is an expense that can add up over time, it does not seem very big since it is only $5 once a month (but be sure to know what day that payment will be withdrawn each month if you’re someone who lets your bank account get down into the decimals – you don’t want to overdraw it!). I listen to Spotify during my downtime and while I do homework, and I love getting to put on a “focus” playlist and know that I won’t get distracted by an ad every 12.4 minutes.
This year I’ve had to learn a lesson the hard way: I’m most productive between the hours of 7 and 10 a.m. at Lemonjello’s. I didn’t want to give into this because going to LJ’s inevitably results in buying coffee, especially when I get there in zombie mode at 6:30 a.m., but I have learned that $1.75 is a good investment in my productivity. If buying that cup of coffee will help me to get several hours’ worth of work done, it is worth it. Part of the trick here, too, is to buy plain coffee – going for the lattes and mochas is what really starts to rack up the bill.
It’s easy to get tempted when you go grocery shopping and only buy Goldfish and Oreos, especially when healthy food is so expensive… But it’s worth it! I feel way better when I’m eating natural foods rather than junk food, even though junk food seems way easier sometimes. Putting in another dollar to upgrade from a bag of chips to a couple cartons of raspberries is an investment in your health!
It’s tempting to rent your books and send them back at the end of the semester to keep costs down, or to sell your books back at book buyback at the end of the semester to make a little extra cash. However, if you have books for a class and you really enjoyed them and learned from them, keep them! It’s worth it to have them to reference later, especially if they’re for your major! I have a hard time parting with any of the books I read for my Religion department classes.
Last but not least, college is an investment. Make sure to treat it as such. Skipping classes and homework assignments is a waste of your own money! Use your money, time, and resources wisely and make the most of your investment!
“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”