Or…in my case….
One of the hardest struggles I find while being a college student is when to step back and weigh your opportunity costs. It seems we hardly wonder what other options we have and end up doing what we think is the best while spending money we may not have. But if we stayed in or skipped out on one night of spending money, would that be so bad? There are benefits to weighing the opportunity costs; I mean, it saved me $64 dollars in one week.
No college student stops to ask themselves these questions. Why would we? We are students, not our parents, and we don’t want to miss out on a good time or a chance to meet new people. We like to expand our social network….
and if you’re anything like me, you have a hard time turning down a good time with friends. This is especially true in the summer, when after work all you want to do is something to escape productivity and get your mind off of the work you have the next day.
After recently returning from studying abroad in Denmark, my bank account isn’t looking so hot and my laptop broke down while I was there. So, not only were the events, night life, and transportation more expensive (but entirely worth it) in Denmark, my laptop that I use every day at school in the US tanked and I find myself in a dilemma. Do I need to go out tonight or can I save the $5-10 out of my paycheck and put it towards the new MacBook Pro I want/need for school?
And since it’s not my birthday or the holiday season, my parents aren’t really into the whole gifting a new laptop, which I feel is an injustice but, hey I get where they are coming from. So like most college students I went out and put it on their credit card and walked right out of the store. Just kidding, this is where the number crunching, additional hours, and less spending come into play. Those credit cards are an entirely different beast that we will get into later.
Last week I told myself that every time someone asked me if I wanted to do something: go out, eat out somewhere, retail therapy shop, or any other miscellaneous way to voluntarily spend money, I would stop and think about it. And here is what happened:
After work Friday evening, I had a friend tell me they were going out for appetizers. I was starving and it sounded so easy to just go straight there but instead I went home, made a sandwich, and all in all saved about $8.75 which was what the appetizer price would have been without the tip ($10.50 with the tip). I did however decide not to deprive myself entirely and met up with my friends to go to the RIV to catch a movie. Student movie tickets at the Riv are only $4 dollars (I also got some food, oops). Spent: 7 Saved: 10.50
The temptation for getting an iced coffee on my way to work was immense but I told myself to keep going. If I do it once I will do it all the time and tried to stay true to my commitment this week to consciously spend less. Think about it, if I were to get the $2-3 coffee, 3-5 times a week I could be spending anywhere from $24-60 in just one month. Spent: 0 Saved: 2.75
After work, my friends and I had a volleyball game at the Alpine Inn so I went there and instead of buying a drink, I just asked for a glass of water and saved $4 right off the bat. Which was perfectly fine, but then the real question of whether or not I could stay conscious of my spending occurred when we all got hungry and wanted to grab a bite to eat before we split. I was tempted and starving but knew I had food at home so I waited around for an hour then heated up my leftovers. Not only did I get the chance to hang out with friends a little longer but I also didn’t spend $11.50 on the pizza and cheese curds we were going to split. Spent: 0 Saved: 11.50
Work at both jobs kept me busy enough to not have to say no or think of an alternative to save, which was a good break for the rest of the week coming up with less work and more time to hang out with friends. Spent: 0 Saved: 0
The All Star Game was on and after work I planned on meeting up with my friends and instead of going there for dinner as well, I took the extra 20 minutes to make some food myself to save me the $11-15 it may have cost me. After the All Star Game we spent the rest of the night catching up at a friend’s house. Spent: 8 Saved: 15
Thought about going to grab something to eat with my friend, Kelsey but instead I suggested she bring over a dish and I would make the main course. Saved us both some money and it was a good way to use up our groceries before we were leaving town. Only money I spent was on a few miscellaneous groceries I needed for dinner. Spent: 8 Saved: 10.75
As I got closer to the weekend, it started to get harder and harder to be as conscious of my spending. But somehow I managed to come up with another alternative to dinner and ice cream that saved me an estimated total of about $13.50. I suggested we go to Angell and play volleyball, which we have all been obsessed with recently, and everyone brings a dish to feed a 5 people and I brought the popsicles that substituted for the ice cream. It was a crowd pleaser and a simple solution. Spent: 0 Saved: 13.50
My friend came into town so we decided to do something fun and going golfing seemed like the best option plus we had a $5 off discount for being a student. So I spent $36 there but it was definitely worth it and up to this point I saved up to $64 just within the week anyway. Spent: 36 Saved: 0
All in All
Sure, it was difficult, but I just made a suggestion for a cheaper (and hopefully just as fun) option where I could bring my own food and beverages or eat before going somewhere, things of that nature. Volleyball, grilling out, going for a bluff hike, or simply watching a movie instead of going out for dinner and bingo were great alternative suggestions and ways to save not just for me but everyone else money. I saved myself $64 just from being conscious of what I was going to spend money on. That money went straight into my separate savings account for the computer I want to purchase before school starts. I might even have to do this more than once a month and aim for $100 saved for the week.
Grand Total Spent: $59 Grand Total Saved: $64
If you are conscious of what you spend in the long term you could save:
These are estimate figures and by all means don’t deprive yourself. Before you spend money, think about your choices and you might just save yourself a good chunk of change.
- Go for the cheaper alternative: Do you need that cup of coffee at Starbucks or McD’s or can you brew your own coffee? Can you and your friends carpool?
- Share the expense: Split a meal, you won’t eat the whole thing anyway.
- DIY: Make your own meal.
Give it a shot this week and see how much you can save! Let us know what you did you stay conscious of your spending!