By: Julia Marchand
It’s been said a million times before, but it bears repeating: college students are broke. Maybe I should just underline and bold that last statement…or repeat it; college students are broke! With a new school year starting up, this fact is about to become evident to yet another class of students. My only hope is that they don’t have to figure it out the hard way! There are a lot of things a prepared and creative undergrad can do to save precious dollars and still obtain what they need to start the semester on the right foot, so today I thought I’d offer up a few ideas.
Tip 1: Stock your closet with professional basics.
You don’t need to have a new outfit for every day (hey, lots of college kids even wear their pajamas to class!), but you do need to have a few staples that can work for internship interviews, presentations and first dates. Instead of splurging on the same type of back-to-school shopping you did in high school, continue to wear your regular wardrobe (at a new school, no one will know that you wore the same things all last year!) A pencil skirt, a blazer and little black dress are each appropriate for a variety of situations and will become the foundation for your professional wardrobe after graduation. With all of the money you’ve saved from buying second-hand, you’ll be able to afford those pesky textbooks and coffee to keep you going.
Tip 2: Keep your kitchen minimal.
There are a million reasons not to go overboard on stocking your collegiate kitchen. Space constraints, lack of cooking time and careless roommates are just a few! Rather than spending your precious dollars on well-stocked cabinets, grab a pot for ramen, a few bowls, some cups and some silverware from the thrift store and call it a day. If you’re cooking in a common space, it’ll be nice to have unique dishes, too, so they don’t get mixed up with someone else’s. This snapshot from Goodwill Industries of Sacramento Valley and Northern Nevada’s Instagram showcases some of the selection you can find on Goodwill shelves! Goodwill, like any college worth its salt, provides on-site and virtual skills and employment training, job placement services and other community-based services, such as career counseling, financial education and résumé preparation. As you prepare for your future, shopping at Goodwill helps others prepare for theirs as well.
Tip 3: Spend time, not money.
The price for brand-new items is not a necessary evil. Just find what you need secondhand and put the time in to personalize it. You’ll end up with something that is completely customized without paying an arm and a leg. Kelly of Kelly Hicks Design shared this amazing couch that her mom found at Goodwill and reupholstered at home. It looks chic, but was actually cheap! Another pro to buying inexpensive furniture in college is that you won’t be out hundreds (or thousands) of dollars if an unruly dorm guest ruins it or if it’s too tricky to move home at the end of the school year. When you’re over it, you may even be able to make a profit. Now, that’s smart! You must have gone to college.