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Do you have T-bone taste on a ramen noodle budget? With a little bit of effort and creativity, you can pay your bills, have fun and save for the future without breaking your bank account. By cutting corners and making small changes, living within your budget can be easy. Check out some common budget busters to learn how to combat them before they take over.
A person has to eat, but if you’re not careful, it’s easy to go over budget in this category. If you live on campus and have a meal plan, use it. You’ve already paid for it, so you’re throwing money away if you don’t take advantage of it. If you have a refrigerator in your dorm room, stock it with inexpensive snacks instead of visiting the vending machine. When grocery shopping, look for coupons on things you regularly use and shop at discount retailers. When eating out, go with a friend and take advantage of two-for-one deals or split an entrée.
You’ve got to get from point A to point B, right? If you have a car, remember to consider things that aren’t regular expenses, like tune-ups and new tires. Stash a little money each month so you’ll be able to cover these expenses when they pop up. Don’t forget about gas! When filling up, comparison shop for the best quality and lowest price. It’s important to stay on top of regular maintenance, like oil changes and tire rotation. Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule will lengthen the life of your car.
All work and no play makes for one unhappy student. Forgetting to budget for fun is why some people don’t stick to their budget. When boredom strikes, look for free entertainment like movie nights on campus, concerts or community events and festivals.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. When decorating your humble abode, check out thrift stores, consignment shops, online sites (like craigslist), the classifieds and garage sales to get good stuff at a cheap price. If you’ll be living with a roommate, check out what they have and shop accordingly. There’s no need to show up on move-in day with duplicates of everything.
If you’re a fashionista, but your clothing budget leaves you feeling blah, look for cheaper alternatives than the mall. Consignment stores often have name brand items, sometimes with original tags still attached. Host a clothing swap with your friends. The things they’re tired of wearing may be just what you’ve had your eye on. If you must make a trip to the mall to scratch your retail therapy itch, never pay full price. Eventually everything goes on sale, so practice patience and wait it out.