In my humble opinion, “college” represents the height of a person’s educational experience. It is the time of learning and socializing, a time when students find themselves, and a time when they start figuring out what they want out of life. In a sense, college becomes a threshold of adulthood as students make their first steps toward independence. Exciting, indeed, but as I make my way through my Northeastern college experience, I am learning that the “joys of adulthood” are not all fun and games…
Cash rules everything around me and I am not referring to the song performed by the Wu-tang Clan. There are bills to pay, money doesn’t come easy anymore, and jobs for undergraduates are not that easy to find. So how does a Northeastern undergraduate survive? Honestly I don’t really know, but I’ll tell you 4 tips that have worked for me.
- Apply, apply, and apply. Apply for anything and everything you can that will help put/keep money in your pockets. When I started my first year at Northeastern, the first thing I did was apply to many of the jobs offered on the student employment link, under the self-service tab on the myNEU portal. Now, of course I had the option of work study, which gave me more options, but even without work study, the student employment site offers many student friendly jobs around the Boston area. Not to mention the Student Employment Job Fair that happens every year! It is a great way to meet employers face to face (the dates for the fair are typically promoted on the Northeastern Financial Services website, Facebook, and Twitter). Trust me; a job will make all the difference in your college experience. Yes you may be a bit busier, but from firsthand experience going from not getting a paycheck at all, to having a paycheck come in every Friday, makes the weekend that much more exciting.
- Walk for what you want. Honestly, the stores near Northeastern are not exactly the most price-friendly. We live in the “real” city of Boston unlike other colleges (cough… cough… BC), so that means unless you walk or take the time to find reasonably priced stores, you will pay the “real” city of Boston prices. If you like having groceries, go to one of the nearby CVS or Walgreens locations. They offer many of the same groceries as the supermarkets and you can get a rewards card that will keep the discounts flowing at the checkout line. If you need clothes, I’ll just tell you now to avoid Newbury Street. If you are looking for great deals on good quality clothes, hop on the green or the orange line and head to Downtown Crossing. A block away from the t-stop is a TJMaxx. You’re welcome. My point is – there is a whole Boston area worth looking into if you just spend the time doing it. My guess is that most of you are thinking that it’s not worth the time or the effort, or that you have too much work to do. Well, if you really can’t walk – shop online for what you want. There are many sites such as eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and many more that will offer what you need for little to nothing compared to in-store prices. Shopping is a skill and it deserves effort unless you want to just throw away money.
- Make your food. Occasionally I will make my own lunch or breakfast. For people with kitchens this will be a little bit easier to do. For those of you still living in the dorms, do not worry. Just listen and learn. Make cold cut sandwiches. Everything you need to make a perfect sandwich will fit snug in your mini fridge and does not need to be heated. If you have a microwave, then you can get creative. Buy products like Kraft Mac and Cheese and the new lean pockets (healthier hot pockets), and keep Ramen noodles as backup. I say keep Ramen as a back up because while being the “national dish of broke students” everywhere, it is not the healthiest choice to eat every night and nothing is more important than your health. There are also things such as bagel bites, pizza rolls, and healthier choices as the microwavable dinners that can make great replacements for that costly Qdoba. But if you do, in fact, decide that you need your weekly fix of take out style food, check to see if your favorite eatery offers a rewards card. This could help you get a free entrée one day!
- Use your resources. My last, but most important tip to all Northeastern students is that you network. Not only is networking an important life skill that will help you make friends and get valuable job connections, but it can also save you money. Please don’t forget that the people you meet in college are also the people who will be revolutionizing industries in the modern world. I have a friend majoring in game design who can draw me posters used for promoting; I have a friend in the school of computer science who can help me reset my computer ; and I have a friend who majors in PE that gives me great workout advice that I would otherwise have to get from a paid trainer. All of these people help me out with these costly tasks for free because I took the time to get to know them and I networked. Don’t stay secluded from your surroundings because you will miss out on the absolute best way for anyone to save money.
So be a thrifty Husky and save yourself some cash!