TCU Daily Skiff Orientation Issue 2004
Frog Fountain
Budget awareness important in having a less stressful, debt free college experience

By Valery Ingley
Skiff Staff


Your dad has unloaded the last box, your mom has given her last tearful hug, and you have waved your last good-bye as your parent’s minivan rolls around the corner and releases you into a life of pure college luxury.

The only problem is luxury comes at a price, and most college budgets are not going to cover it.

Many college freshmen feel this initial sense of financial panic. Some even spend the next four years digging themselves deeper and deeper into an endless hole of debt.

However, it is possible to maintain a pretty decent living standard throughout college and graduate debt-free if you start living on a college budget now.

The first and foremost requirement for living on a budget is to pace yourself. That monthly allowance from Mom and Dad can only last so long, and if you spend half of your money in two days, you are looking at a long month ahead.

“Don’t go out to eat every night the first week of school,” said Beth Mayberry, a sophomore social work and political science major.

Although it is tempting to go out every night with new friends, set aside one day a week for “friend dates.” Not only will your pocket be fuller, but also you will have something to look forward to after a hard week of studying.

Another budget foe faced by college students is the all-too-abused credit card.

The average college student has accumulated $2,327 worth of credit card debt by graduation. It would take 18 years to pay this off if you paid only the minimum monthly requirement.

These little pieces of plastic may offer temporary highs for students with spending addictions, but they cause more harm than good. In the words of parents across the country, credit cards should be used “for emergencies only.”

In addition, students should not use credit cards to purchase large or expensive items, such as that new Prada handbag or Sony DVD player. If you cannot afford to pay for it now, chances are you cannot pay for it later, especially when interest has been added.

At the same time, avoid using credit cards to purchase small items.

In fact, it may prove beneficial to forget the credit card altogether. Get a debit card. Since debit cards allow users to spend only what is in their account, there is no danger of venturing into that black hole of debt.

Cutting coupons can also save the novice college student from future financial strain. This may seem like a tedious, time-consuming task, but TCU makes it easy for you. Anywhere on campus that there is a stack of newspapers, you can be sure to find TCU coupon books, made exclusively for TCU students.

These coupon books are filled with great deals around the Fort Worth area, including $6 pizzas and $5 haircuts. The really great part is that you can take as many as you want.

Also, do not be afraid to ask for student discounts in the area. Places like the movies and nearby clothing stores usually offer some type of discount to TCU students.

Another way to survive on a college budget — and this one may hurt — is to skip Spring Break. Each year, students across the nation spend thousands of dollars on a one-week stretch of rest and relaxation known as Spring Break.

And while lying on the beaches of Cancun may be fun, is it worth it to graduate with $5,000 worth of Spring Break debt?

In fact, it may be more practical to go on several cheap trips, such as annual camping trips with friends. But, if the beaches of Mexico are just to tempting to resist, save up for one big Spring Break excursion instead of going every year.

If spending money on entertainment activities is your financial downfall, consider going to school-sponsored events for recreation. Most sporting events and departmental programs are free, and “free” will never put you in debt.

Finally, Be reasonable about your expenses. You are a college student, which means you are the universal icon of frugal living.
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