A Senior's Thoughts: Spending

After reading this article on Career Rookie, I realized there are many things I need to either begin doing or learn how to do better for my future career and life. If you read the article, you see that the author gives six tips for college seniors or recent graduates. With that being said, I have decided I am going to focus on one of the tips each week. When I say focus, I don’t mean read it, think about it and blog about it. I mean that I am going to purposefully change things in my life to work at each tip.

The first tip is to cut expense fat, so this past week I have been very carefully watching my spending and my budget. This is rather difficult being an engaged girl (Wedding stuff is so expensive!) who loves to eat out.  I focused mainly on dining out because my expenses (rent, utilities, etc.) are pretty set as are many college seniors’ right now and the largest percentage of my budget goes to groceries or dining out.

Let me warn you, dining in isn’t quite as easy as you would think especially if you enjoy eating out like I do. At one point this week, I almost caved. I was going to cook a Bertolli pasta meal that had been in my freezer for months. I sat it out to let it thaw, and then put it in the microwave. Without thinking twice, I glanced at how long it takes to microwave it and began to zap it for 10-12 minutes. The problem is that I didn’t fully read the directions. Had I, I would have seen that I should put the contents of the bag into a microwavable dish. Well, I’m talking to my roommate in her room and began to smell something unpleasant. I glanced in the kitchen, and there were flames in the microwave! I began screaming and opened the door to put out the fire. All things in me said, “Give up and go out to eat.” However, I held strong, and ate in using the supplies of my pantry: bread, peanut butter and jelly. That was at least $7 saved.

Another thing I realized this week is that outside of college, I won’t have a dining plan. Whenever I get low on cash (usually at the end of the month) I just eat on campus. While yes, this is real money that I spend on campus, it sometimes does not feel that way since you can only use it on campus. One thing I do recommend is using your tigercard to your advantage. This money is mandatory, so you might as well spend it. That $300 is $300 you don’t have to spend out of your checking account. Follow me: any money that isn’t spent out of your checking account now is money you have for later. I saved more money by foregoing lunch off-campus, and instead using my tigercard.

While I’m focusing on dining, there are some other things I thought of that can cut spending. One is using Netflix or Hulu instead of getting cable. Many of you don’t have this luxury right now because you have roommates and a cable bill already. When you move out and get new roommates, this is a viable alternative. You may not get to watch your favorite tv show at its true time, but who does nowadays? So many people pay for DVR or Tivo, that it’s very common to watch shows 2-3 days late.

Also, consider foregoing a gym membership. If you use it everyday, then I think you’re definitely not wasting money. But many of us pay for a membership, and then only go twice a week. That really adds up! If you pay $50 a month for a membership and only go twice a week, then you’re paying roughly $6.25 a visit. That is $12.50 a week that could go to other things like going to the movies! Exercising outside is refreshing anyways.

Now that I’ve become more aware of how much I spend, I really do want to be wiser in my purchases. I can do this, and you can too, by making meals at home. If you have roommates, choose a night each week for someone to cook. This is really nice because you don’t have to worry about dinner two nights out of the week, and you get leftovers for lunch! Additionally, use your tigercard. By not using it, you’re throwing away $300 that could have been used to get lunch. Also analyze your perceived needs for things like a gym membership or cable. Are they, in fact, needs? Join me in becoming wiser about spending habits, and then come back next week when after I’ve learned to monitor my e-personality!

Paige Robinson '12

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