Earning and saving money in college can seem nearly impossible sometimes. Between buying material for classes, such as expensive textbooks and online software, paying for rent or even helping your parents pay for rent, grocery shopping and getting gas, earning and saving money as a college student can be a complicated task, but there are ways to do so.
If you’re anything like me, you probably spend a lot of your money without even realizing it. Friends will ask you to go out to lunch or dinner, you buy excess groceries and end up not eating some of the food you bought or you have your daily drink at Starbucks. Everything seems like small purchases at the time, until you look at your bank account and realize that you have spent all your paycheck or weekly allowance. And the last thing you want to do is ask your parents to help you out.
When I started school at ECU, I didn’t have a job because I wanted to focus on my studies and thought that getting a job may be too much on my plate. While not having a job did help me focus on school more, I also had no idea how to spend my money wisely, and often found myself asking my parents for extra money even after I had already received a weekly allowance.
Sophomore year, I lived in an apartment and brought my car to school, which helped me find a job off campus. Of course, this benefitted me immensely as I now had my own money to spend on groceries, gas, class necessities and other small things without having to ask my parents to help me out as much. However, I still found myself spending and wasting money, and still do occasionally now as a junior with two jobs.
When I woke up the other morning and realized that I had spent nearly all my money from my last paycheck from my job at a restaurant, I realized something needed to change. So, I am writing this for not only other students who may be struggling to save money, but also for myself.
Getting a job is a step in the right direction to earn money that you can save, but many students, especially freshmen, don’t have cars and therefore can’t get a job off campus. However, there are many jobs offered on campus that are steps away from dorms and student apartments. Joyner Library, the Financial Aid Office, Dowdy Student Stores, the Student Recreation Center, and many more offer part-time jobs for ECU students, which can be found at the Student Employment Office’s website.
If you do have a car, there are numerous businesses around Greenville that are actively looking for part-time students. The Greenville Mall has a variety of clothing retailers that are often looking for part-time employees. Greenville also has many restaurants, coffee shops and retailers that are only a five to 10-minute drive from campus and most of the off-campus apartment complexes. A good way to find these jobs is to check on Facebook, online job search websites like Indeed, or simply go in and ask in person. The best part is most if not all these businesses will work with your class schedule.
Some students, however, don’t want a job in college as they think it will distract them from their work. If you have a car and want to work on your own schedule, there are apps you can sign up on, such as JoyRun or DoorDash, which will let you work on your own time picking up food orders for customers and delivering the food to them. If you’re 21 or older, you can work for Uber or Lyft.
If you want to save this earned money, you can open a savings account where you can keep the money that you want to save up and not immediately use. Creating a weekly spending budget for yourself and keeping track of what you spend can help you see where you are spending the most money and where you can cut back.
Be sure to check ECU Facebook groups to see if other students are selling textbooks you may need or other class necessities for a cheaper price than retailers. You can also find gently used clothing and furniture students are selling in these groups as well. If you spend too much grocery shopping, like me, you may benefit from creating a meal plan for the week and only buying food particularly for these meals. Not only will this help you save money and not eat out as much, it may also be a healthier option
I believe that saving money is an important skill that everyone can benefit from. It can help us students once we graduate and move onto the “real world.” Learning to save early on is an important life skill that students with future careers, but also will mean less of a financial burden they may face when they graduate college and are in search of a job.