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How to Save Money in College

I decided to write this after reading HackCollege’s article. It’s not going to cover how to make a budget or how to manage one’s finances, but simply go over the little things I do that helped me save money during my time at UBC.

1. Work. I spent my summer growing a lot of green plants in a lab while my associates were working with tobacco hehe.

Ok but seriously, apply for work-study jobs. Many are first-come first-serve or if they fit your schedule.

2. Don’t drink coffee. From my understanding, people drink coffee usually for the energy boost. I have a regular sleeping schedule. As such, I wake up feeling fine since my body is accustomed to being awake and asleep at specific times during the day. It also helps that I eat at regular intervals throughout the day and that food gives me more than enough energy to go through a day without passing out.

3. Borrow textbooks from the library and continually renew them. Previous editions of a textbook are just as good and usually there are many copies of those in the library NOT on reserve. After all the fact that RNA Polymerase initiates transcription when it binds to the promoter in DNA is the same regardless of whether I read that in the 1st, 5th or 9th edition of a textbook.

4. Stay healthy. I don’t know the exact cost of being sick (in terms of money, time, energy, etc…), but I imagine it can get expensive. Remember those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness. Although this is an incomplete oversimplification, all it takes to be healthy is a balanced diet (you don’t even need to eat organic) and sufficient exercise and sleep. I plan to blog about time management (and possibly health) in the near future…

5. Have a cheap cell phone plan. I have a prepaid plan ($0.25/min and $5/month for 250 outgoing texts) so it totals about $100-150 per year. I see my friends on a regular basis that I don’t need to constantly call/text them. Whatever I have to say to them can wait until I get home (and use skype) or when I see my friends in person. It’s amazing that I have friends who don’t complain if we go through a single day without communicating with one another.

6. Don’t be a brand whore. Enough said.

7. Meet lots of people. Of course the quality of your friendships is important, but you don’t have to be BFFs with everyone you meet. The more people you know, the higher the chance that someone will come to you and say hey I know you’re looking for this item and it’s on sale at Store X right now so you should check it out! I don’t go through Groupon, SocialShopper etc… since I’m not interested in most of the deals. Usually I just check my Facebook newsfeed since I have friends who share the popular discounts/promotions.

8. Don’t eat out. Restaurants are expensive and it adds up if you eat out even only once a week. The cheaper and healthier (see #4) option is to buy ingredients from a supermarket and make a meal that will last you several days. The ability to cook is a sexy skill in anybody. Also your body (and wallet) will thank you for making the effort to wake up one hour earlier to eat breakfast and pack a lunch for school.

9. Register for only the minimum number of courses you need for your degree. UBC clearly states the required courses you need on its website so there should be no reason why one can’t plan ahead and take the right courses. I’ve listened to several students complain that some courses couldn’t be used for credits or they didn’t count their credits correctly and I noticed that the problem could have been avoided if they had set aside thirty minutes to see an adviser (they really are helpful) to double check the requirements and resolve any ambiguities. Don’t know what course to take? Again, meet lots of people (see #7).

10. Take good care of your things so you don’t have to spend money fixing or replacing them. That’s why I never do back-to-school shopping trips. There are lots of things that look new and still function perfectly well, but have actually been around even before I was born. For example, the lamp in my house used the same lightbulb for over 20 years!

Categories: Bulletin, Life, Personal, UBC
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