Unearthing the hidden expenses of college life

When I found out that my estimated cost of college attendance would be just over $14,000, my jaw dropped, and my dad’s wallet cringed.

Throughout my high school career, my parents stressed the importance of getting good grades to ensure that I would not only be able to get into a good college, but also increase my chances of getting financial aid.

When I told my parents that I needed a book with a price tag of $110, I think my mom dropped the phone. Fortunately for everyone, financial aid covered my books and the majority of my tuition, meal plan and housing and has left me with a very small bill for me to pay on my own.

I was always scared of the tuition and housing costs of college, but after a month here, I am more afraid of the everyday costs that you never realized that you had until you are on your own.

Laundry gets expensive to do after a while, there’s no point in driving off campus when gas prices are still high and I can’t remember the last time that I ate off campus without having to answer the question, “Is that for here or to go?”

I find myself checking my banking statements online, hoping that a miracle has occurred and my bank account is overflowing, but then I come back to reality and realize that the same $30 that has been there for two weeks is still there because I know that if I do end up spending it, I will get charged for not keeping a minimum, or something will come up.

I do not touch my savings account unless I absolutely have to. I do not have a credit card, which is probably a good thing. I try to carry cash on me, but something always seems to come up short. My financial days were brightened, though, when I found an envelope in the mail from my mom with gift cards to various places.

My parents always taught me to be thrifty and to watch my spending, but often times I find myself throwing out their teachings and spending $6 on a movie ticket or $3 on something to drink. Thankfully though, there seems to be plenty to do around here that requires little or no money, as long as I show my ID card.

“Movies on the Lawn” is my personal favorite form of free activity here on campus. The Bull Runner is a great way to get around without having to worry about gas or traffic. My friends and I have started movie and board games nights to cure our boredom and curb the need to spend money. It’s almost like a support system.

I am sure that when the second semester rolls around, my parents will allow me to get a job so I can live without too many financial worries. In the meantime though, I am just going to have to pinch pennies and do what I can to stay out of debt and out of others’ bank accounts. After all, no one likes a moocher.

Olivia Hattan is a freshman majoring in mass communications.