When finals are done next week, the majority of the student body will breathe a sigh of relief. Even though some will attend summer school, there will be plenty of time during the summer to sit back and relax. Whether taking trips across the country or staying close to home and partying, there will also be plenty of opportunities to spend money.
Here are some tips to help you control your finances this summer, so when classes resume in the fall, you won’t have the added stress of being in debt.
1) Get a job, or ask for more hours at the one you have
Although spending more time at work may not be your idea of a great summer, it may be a way to save up extra cash. Most employers are happy to have the extra help without having to bring on a new employee.
“Where I work, they always schedule me double shifts over the summer,” Chavonne Porter, a junior, said. “They’re just happy they don’t have to train anyone new.”
If you don’t already have a job, consider getting one. Many companies specifically look to hire part-time help, said Drema K. Howard, director of the USF Career Center.
“From the employer’s stance, part-time employees are cost-effective because they do not get the same amount of benefits, but the employers also get the chance to identify people that could be cultured into becoming a full-time or professional employee,” Howard said.
Howard said another benefit for companies that hire college students is the amount of knowledge students can bring to their positions.
“College students that have recently been in a classroom come with cutting-edge skills and have a lot of enthusiasm about what they’re doing,” Howard said.
Michael S. Tooke, assistant director of the Career Center, said students should reap other benefits from employment, aside from just a paycheck.
“For students to be competitive in the job market when they get out of college, they need to start adding skill sets and experiences that are related to their career interests,” Tooke said. “Make the work you’re doing now help you in the future.”
Tooke said finding a job you enjoy should also be a top priority.
“Employers look for three things: qualifications, personality and enthusiasm for the job. It’s important that students know what kind of work they want to do so they can have all three things and land the position,” Tooke said. “Students must be persistent and follow-up with the employer, and unless they really want that job, it doesn’t often happen.”
2) Car pool, take the bus, ride a bike or simply walk
Gas prices are sky-high, so be frugal when it comes to driving. Try car pooling with a friend or take the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. This way you not only save money, you also help the environment. Or, as one student sees it, saving gas is a great reason to avoid USF in the summer.
“I’m not taking summer school this year because with gas prices as high as they are, I need to be as conservative as possible,” Veronica Lopez, a senior, said.
3) If you must drive, keep your car properly tuned up
According to CARSTAR.com, basic auto maintenance includes changing the oil and filters every 3,000 miles, rotating and balancing tires at least every 10,000 miles and scheduling regular tuneups to keep the engine in good condition. During the summer months, it is important to check the battery on a weekly basis unless going on a long road trip, in which case it should be checked every day. Also, be sure to check and flush anti-freeze as needed. Another tip that seems obvious but often gets ignored is taking your car to a mechanic at the first sign of trouble, be it a warning light or strange noise. Don’t wait for the car to stall and then have to pay the extra charges for towing and added damages.
“I save money and hassle just by keeping my car in good shape,” Tara Ehrenfeld, a junior, said. “It saves unexpected and pricey problems in the future, and it maintains the value of my car in case I ever want to trade it in.”
4) Quit, or at least limit, costly habits
You’ve heard all the health risks associated with smoking and drinking, but have you ever stopped to think about the damage these habits do to your wallet? Summer is considered by some the party season and with each party comes the cost of alcohol, and, if you’re a smoker, the cost of cigarettes.
Let’s say you smoke a pack a day and go through 2 cases of beer per week. With cigarettes averaging $3 per pack and beer averaging $10 a case, you’re spending $41 a week, $164 a month, or $574 during the entire summer. If you can’t manage to quit these habits, try to save some money by keeping them to a minimum.
“I used to smoke Marlboro Lights, but they just got too expensive,” Katy Rohrer, a junior, explained. “So I started smoking different generic cigarettes until I found Signatures, and after a while, they didn’t really taste all that different.”
5) Pay with cash, not on credit
Whatever you must spend in the summer, try your best to pay for it up front.
“If you can’t afford to pay cash, you can’t afford to have it,” said Robert J. Morris, an investment broker. “Most college students don’t know how to budget, so Visa has a lot of power. It entices them to buy above their means.”
Most students’ credit cards also have high interest rates and could end up tacking on more money than you know. Jennifer Suggs, a sophomore, said she is already in debt because of credit cards.
“I hate it because I’m at the point now where I make payments to cover the interest and hardly make a dent in the actual bill at all,” she said.
Nellie Mae, a student loan company, cites that the average credit card debt for undergraduates is $2,200, and $5,800 for graduate students.
Learning to budget your income as early as possible is one of the most helpful ways to avoid debt, Morris said.
“For example, if you only allot $50 a week for spending money, only use $50. If you run out of money, tough luck until next week. It’s all about setting boundaries that are attainable and learning to use self-control when making financial decisions,” Morris said.
Contact Rebecca Markleyat firstname.lastname@example.org