It's 2017. Woah. New Year's is a great time to use as an excuse to get it together.
Unfortunately a lot of our troubles stem from our mentality, as well as our environment. I decided to try and think about one thing specifically: budget. Many times I catch myself thinking that if something doesn't cost me my first-born, it's obviously a piece of crap.
I . WAS. WRONG.
With ever-tight budgets and ever-growing closets, it's easy to wither away into Oldhagdom from expense OR slither right into Bankruptville from addiction. We always want the best, but in college (and often after) we can barely afford the worst.
Unfortunately this isn't just about what's in our closet. We want to have fabulous lives. Sometimes to have great bounty, you have to trim away the dead branches that have stopped producing fruit. So here's my top five keep it/cleave it lists:
Top 5 Keeps on a College Budget:
5. Tennis Shoes
Contrary to what celebrities may have you thinking, shoes are not just about style. Having a decent pair of tennis shoes will not only help promote physical activity (which let's be honest, the freshman 15 is now more like the freshman 50), it may also help prevent later back problems and joint pain. A solid pair of sneakers is a must in a college kid's closet.
4. Alarm Clock
We know, we know, you have a phone. However, studies have shown that using an actual alarm clock to wake up promotes better sleep habits than using a phone.
So charge your phone across the room (where you can't just reach and grab it for a middle-of-the-night-Facebook-check) and invest a couple extra bucks into a real alarm clock for your poor, tired brain. Interested in reading more on sleep habits? Maria Konnikova of The New Yorker has a great read here.
3. Meal Card
Most college students have these. If you don't, get one. Why? Well ... if you actually use the card (not buy the card and then not use it) it will save you TONS in fast food, restaurants, gas station snacks and the ever-waiting vending machine.
In addition, practicing eating only when you're in the cafeteria will help regulate your body to recognize the cafeteria equals eating, not your bed. Plus if you're not hungry at 1 a.m., that's like $20 extra a week from cutting the late night Taco Bell runs.
2. Phone Case
Gosh darn it already! Get the best case! You KNOW you're going to drop your phone in the toilet on accident and then have to spend at least $100 on repair.
So just spend the extra $30 on a case that will defend your device. When picking, don't go cute. Go prepared.
1. Organizational Products
Ok, weird right? Why would this make the list? Because the point of college is to learn. It's harder to learn with clutter and chaos. And no, your BS answer about how you "know where everything is" will not fly here.You had to learn where everything was in the crazy, you can learn where it is in the calm.
What types, you ask? Bins, baskets, compartments, stackable drawers, label makers and ALWAYS cleaning supplies. Splurge on these things to help create an environment ready for hard work and success, because this is the time where it really counts.
Top 5 Cleaves on a College Budget:
5. Expensive Health/Beauty Products
Unless you have a SERIOUS condition, there's just no reason to spend $40 on shampoo. You hair will survive the next few years on regular ol' six dollar shampoo. And who honestly needs eight different body sprays? That's more than one per day of the week! Cut it back Jack. One smell will do for now.
Ladies: the makeup. It's okay to have it, but try different cheaper products and find ones that work for you. In fact, just last week I found a GREAT mascara for under two bucks! It is possible to maintain proper hygiene and care on a college budget.
4. Fast Food
It's. Not. Good. For your body or your budget. College students easily spend $50 a week on the Macs, Bells and Kings near campus. That's $200 a month!
Try to limit yourself to only eating out at good quality venues where you can enjoy both the food and ambiance of the experience. This will cut back your cost and give you fonder memories. AKA make it worth it.
3. Brand-Name Items
If you have to have something, fine. But if it's a product that has multiple versions, such as Fruit Loops, try the off-brand version. A typical brand name grocery trip can easily be five dollars more than an off brand grocery trip. Add up a yearly sum: that's an extra $260.
For clothes that can be even more expensive. A pair of jeans from Target or Walmart cost around $20, where a pair of jeans from brand name retailers average around $30-$60. Cutting back in brand allows for more spending in other areas.
2. Gadgets and Gizmos
While having them is awesome (Deus Ex Mankind Divided for real!!), they can and do take away from the important things. Also, they're ultra expensive.
I don't even feel a need to quote items and prices here, because everyone already knows this. Point being, spend your hundreds elsewhere or even just save for emergencies.
This is not a popular statement. I'm not talking about don't party ever. I'm talking about not every single weekend. It's literally spending hundreds for a rental. You can't keep the high. Eventually your body gives it up, and you're left a daydream late and a hundred dollars short.
Cigarettes, while yes, ruining the environment and your body, ruin your pocketbook even more. A pack costs on five bucks average. So If you smoke a pack every two days, that's $912.50 a year (that's like three car payments)! Plus apparently employers can tell when you smoke, even when you brush and spray. Smokers earn on average 20 percent less cash than employees who do not smoke!
Anyway you look at it, these "fun" activities rip giant holes in your pocket that prove difficult to patch. Interested in more info on smoking? Check this out.
Hope this list proved useful or at least got your gears going. As always
YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST FAN! Treat yourself like it!