As tuition and cost of living prices rise, many college students, living solely off their financial aid, are struggling to make ends meet.
A large portion of financial aid consists of student loans that students are required to pay back, according to Central Oregon Community College enrollment specialist, Jon Esterman. “Students are using that money to survive,” said Esterman. In today’s job
market and the current economy, some students end up “digging themselves into debt.”
10 Ways to Stretch Your Financial Aid
1. Pay your bills first. Don’t expect your debt to just go away. Debt collectors may be willing to work out a payment plan if you explain your “financial need” and offer to make minimum payments.
2. Create a realistic budget and stick to it. Keep track of all your spending.
3. Figure in fun money. Activities and occasions will come up; factor these into your budget by giving yourself an “allowance.”
4. Avoid splurging. Pretend the money is not there. Remember, the faster you spend it, the faster it’s gone.
5. Make going grocery shopping a priority. Eating out now, may mean you won’t have money for food later.
6. Stock up. Power bars, dried fruit, trail mix, coffee, cereal, oatmeal and anything non-perishable that will give you fuel throughout the term can be bought in bulk from Costco or Food-4-Less.
7. Invest in things that will save you money. Pick up an affordable water bottle, travel coffee mug, lunch box and reusable snack bags or food storage containers, that will save you from buying fast-food and beverages from vending machines.
8. Get your car in for routine maintenance. You can’t afford to break down.
9. Resist overindulging. Avoid paying for things you can do yourself. Skip the nail salon and cancel the yard service. Paint your own nails and trim your own grass. By cutting out the middleman, you’re spending less.
10. Don’t go any spending sprees. If it’s not in your budget, don’t buy it.
Make this your mantra:Once I’ve obtained my degree and landed my dream job, I will have the means to shop when I feel like it; but right now, my goal requires willpower and control over my finances.
After all, it’s your money.
First year COCC nursing student, Anna Quesenberry is a wife and mother of two who is passionate about saving money.