1. Your overpriced textbooks and supplies.
• Avoid buying new. Buy used. Buy online. Rent. Check the library. Share textbooks with friends, roommates, and classmates. All of these options are preferable to buying new, as the resale value of textbooks is, in a word, bad.
• Think before you go nuts on supplies. Will you really need that telescopic lens for Photography I, or would it just look cool? This rule actually applies to the entire college experience. If you’re shopping to impress, you’re doing it wrong.
2. Your credit card debt.
• Nip it now. Make debt your enemy by cutting up any credit cards you already have. Live thriftier. Make a plan to pay off debt you’ve already accrued. It may seem harsh, but you’ll be grateful upon graduation that you’re able to enter the workforce debt-free and poised to stack fresh Benjamins—not pay off old, crusty debt.
• Be smarter than the banks. Think it’s a coincidence that five people have stopped you today, offering “free” t-shirts in exchange for your information? Think again. Credit card companies—even the ones with hilarious commercials featuring Alec Baldwin—prey on college students, luring them into high-interest debts they’ll be paying on long after that shirt disintegrates.
3. Your inefficient car.
• Get a better one. Yeah, we know, we just said “avoid debt at all cost,” but the thing is, if you’re spending hundreds of unnecessary dollars each year on gas and repairs for your leaky junker, it might be worth switching to a reasonably priced used car that you can afford to either buy outright or finance on the cheap.
• Go car-less. If your campus is walkable, and your city offers reliable public transportation, why hold onto the hassle of ownership? Post that baby for sale on craigslist, and put the money toward more worthy causes, like pizza.
4. Your eating habits.
• Eat more pizza. (Notice how all this stuff is sorta related?) We don’t mean pizza specifically, since too many greasy pies can prompt the dreaded “Freshman 15,” but going in on food to feed several people at once is much cheaper than buying solo meals or groceries for one.
• Don’t pay full price, ever. One of the greatest things about being a broke college student is the sympathy discount you get from movie theaters, restaurants, putt-putt courses—the list goes on. Take full advantage, young whippersnappers! One day you’ll have to pay full price, and trust us, it’s zero fun.