Today, financial aid dropped, and my wallet instantly felt far too heavy. Whenever this time of the semester rolls around, it’s like Christmas! I instantly find it hard to not surf the American Apparel website and I always seem to crave Chinese take out for the first few weeks. I’ll admit it: I am awful at keeping track of my money. I blame it on me being an English major.
I never liked to deal with numbers, even if they meant the difference of me eating ramen noodles or delicious General Tso’s Chicken for dinner. Today alone, I got a haircut, paid my rent (finally!), and bought enough hummus and groceries to feed a small army. Did I mention that I feel fabulous about all this?
Be wary, my little college babies, this feeling will fade! A month or two down the road, your bank account will be at a staggering $15, and you’ll be begging your friends for a cup of coffee during finals week. This happened to me and I’m not proud of it at all. You’ll consider selling all your books just so you can buy some cheap wine with your friends… Wait, maybe that’s just me.
Anyways, my point is that you should spend your financial aid wisely. Remember, most of these are loans. So you may want to buy that super chic glitter top today and today it may only cost you $26, but with interest down the road, it will wind up costing you $56.
I was doing the whole “finding myself” shtick my freshman year, and I spent almost all of my financial aid money on late night taco bell runs and clothes to match my new “bro” style I was trying to copy from my roommates. Needless to say, near the end of the year I was calling my mom almost every week asking for 40 bucks. I have never felt more at odds with myself in my life.
“I’m an adult!” I would cry. Five minutes later, I would be cooing into the phone, “Mommy…your little boy loves you!”
Here are some tips with handling your financial aid wisely so this doesn’t happen to you!
1. Make a budget and stick to it!
Excel spreadsheets will be your best friend. Set aside $20 a week for extras such as cheap wine and Chinese food, like I do. If I go over the budget I start to sweat and twitch and whimper, “…Mommy.”
Okay, not really.
2. Set your priorities.
I constantly struggle with the age-old question, “Do I really need these $50 shorts or should I buy groceries for the week?” I know it isn’t an easy decision, babies, but you can make the right choice.
3. Be frugal.
Don’t go buy 4 bags of tortilla chips! Buy 3 and see if you’ll need more later on. Don’t spend money on things you don’t really need. (Just kidding, you’ll always need tortilla chips!)
4. Check your account statements. Often.
Don’t let your balance surprise you! There is no worse feeling than thinking you have $30 but really only having 40 cents.
When all else fails, have your responsible friend hold on to your credit cards!
Any other tips for handling your financial aid wisely?