By Jennifer Bigler
Ashley Sanders spends less than $10 a week in college.
“I make my own clothes. I will go to stores to see pants or shirts that I like and then I will go home and try to make them,” said Sanders, a 21-year-old philosophy and English major from Salt Lake City. “My roommates and I make decorations for the house from recycled material. I buy food that will last me a long time. Sometimes it is gross, but it”s cheap!”
Like Sanders, many college students find that a college life equates to a poor life. After purchasing expensive books, paying rent and making other payments, money can be sparse.
In a world of increasing student debt, BYU students find themselves forced to find creative ways to stay away from financial problems.
“I ride the bus instead of driving to save money,” said BYU law student Tory Christensen. “I also try to eat with freshmen so that they will buy me food with their dining plus. I always buy off brands when I go to the grocery store. That is something that I would have never done while living at home.”
Ninety-five percent of college students have credits cards, with an average of four different cards per student, according to statistics provided by the Nellie Mae organization. Of these credit card holders, 20 percent have debt ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. Six percent of undergraduate students have a debt greater than $15,000, according to Nellie Mae.
As a new freshman, Allen Frost, an 18-year-old from Flagstaff, Ariz., who has not declared a major, finds himself learning to live on a tight budget so he will not fall into the trap of college debt.
“I have learned that I cannot eat out anymore,” Frost said while waiting in a chair to get a hair cut at the BYU Barbershop. “I came here because I got a dollar-off coupon. No way would I have used a coupon at home!”
Frost finds it easy to save money by participating in the many cheap or free activities available to students.
“I rent golf clubs for free from the RB, which is great. My friends and I like going up to the canyon or Rock Park. I also really appreciate the whole dollar movie thing.”
Sanders said she believes coming up with cheap weekend activities only takes a little creativity.
“My friends and I are always doing the craziest things. We sometimes have ”anything but clothes” parties where everyone wears non-traditional clothing. This weekend we are going to wear white jumpsuits that we get for free from car mechanics and throw balloons filled with paint at one another.”
BYU provides students with cheap weekend activities such as dances, plays, bowling, the arcade, and movies at the Varsity Theater.
“It is easy to save money when you know about what the school has to offer. My friends and I have so much fun just doing fun campus stuff,” Frost said.
BYU”s financial aid office has tips for students on how to budget during college years.
-Create a budget plan for yourself.
-Find out what your spending habits are by keeping track of your expenses for one month.
-Group expenses into categories(food, clothing, insurance, transportation, household expenses, entertainment, savings, etc.).
-Evaluate priorities after the month and decide if changes in spending need to be made so not to exceed budget.
-Record all purchases and keep receipts from every month so not to overspend.
-Visit BYU financial aid office in the ASB for questions or finance counseling.