Easy ways to save some money at home (or in the dorm)

Mathew Carrick / Columnist

As I’ve explored in previous columns, the challenge of being financially stable boils down to two factors: income and expense. Usually, there isn’t a lot we can do about income in the short run. We can’t just move to new, higher-paying jobs or start an instantly-profitable business. As a result, most of the financial burden falls on our expenses, which we can control through budgeting. Even then, staying afloat can be hard, especially with the limited income and high fixed costs of most college students.

Buddhists believe we should limit our worldly desires, choosing not to want all those attractive gadgets that we want to throw money at. For us, sometimes one of the best ways forward is to save money through alternatives to the more-expensive goods and activities that are desired. So the next time you feel the urge to spend money, consider these options:

  • Buy off-brand. As I discussed in a previous column, brand names cost more than they’re worth! The next time you go to the store, try shopping generic. In nearly all cases, you won’t see the difference, but your wallet will.

  • Buy used books or trade in existing ones. Instead of buying brand new books, go with gently-used! Many book store—nearby Gulliver’s included—also offer trade-in credit. Turn in your old books and get a discount or even a free book.

  • Cook from home. Although this is easier if you live off-campus with running water, it is possible to cook anywhere. The savings can be significant! When you go to a restaurant, you’re paying for three things: the ingredients, the labor and the mark-up. At home, you pay only for the ingredients.

  • Drink homemade coffee. Although I do break my rules for coffee sometimes, I also try to drink my coffee with store-bought beans or espresso powder. The cost for a single cup of coffee is only a few cents, while the cost of an Arctic Java coffee is several dollars. Combine this with the caffeine-fueled college lifestyle and you have significant savings!

  • Avoid costly entertainment. Movies are fun, but they’re also expensive, as are several other popular college treats. Next time, try staying home and reading a book or going on a walk—campus has wonderful trails!

Saving money isn’t easy, especially as a college student. But it is possible. If budgeting still leaves some gaps, try these suggestions to reign in some spending. Once you get into the mindset of saving money, you’ll notice opportunities everywhere!

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