Unexpected Opportunities to Spend Money at College

 Unexpected Opportunities to Spend Money at College 

There are many ways you can spend money — beyond tuition, fees, room and board - at college. 

Every college compiles a “Cost of Attendance” (COA) each year, to set limits for awarding financial aid. Each COA contains a line for “personal costs”, but most bear little resemblance to the actual spending. 

To help you plan your college budget, here are some danger areas to your wallet. Review these so that you can deal with them sensibly.

1. Food

* Delivered food - The cafeteria food plan with all of its options, like yogurt, stir fry, and burgers is great, but sometimes you just need a pizza or Chinese food at midnight.

* Fast food - It’s easy, fast, and on some campuses it is a shorter walk than the cafeteria is.

* Vending machines - They wouldn’t put them in dorms and classroom buildings if they weren’t profitable. 

* Dating - Two dinners at a franchise place can set you back forty dollars, easily. 

2. Entertainment

* TV, music and video - On-demand movies and tunes are so very easy to buy. Subscriptions may make more sense. 

* Computer games - If you play every night to relieve the stress of studying, the latest versions may look quite appealing.

* On-campus plays and concerts - Often these are free with a student ID, but the concession stand is seldom free.

* Sporting events - Football and basketball tickets are often sold in packages to students at discounted prices. Big rivalry games command premium prices.

3. Clothing

* College wear - It is fun to shop at the college bookstore, and the varieties of t-shirts, hoodies, and caps is staggering. Usually only the ugly stuff is on sale, by the way.

* Fan/spirit wear - This is more an issue at large universities, where local vendors create game day t-shirts and score shirts. You can sometimes subscribe to a whole season’s worth at a discount.

* Greek - You have to display your letters. The combination of choices is huge. A hoodie here, sunglasses there; soon you are talking real money.

4. Automobile

* Gas - Road trip!

* Roadside repairs - Keep in mind that most tow companies are cash only.

* Parking - Never think you can outfox the campus ticket cops. You can’t; they are everywhere. 

* Taxicabs - This is for when the designated driver just doesn’t work out. A sensible expense.

5. Academic

* Books - Professors may tell you to pick up supplemental material or paperback novels at the last minute.

* Art supplies - Hopefully art majors are aware of the expense.

* Computer expenses - Monthly printing charges will appear on your school account. You may buy a few flash drives that you will use only once.

6. Greek Life

* T-shirts - Every dance party, pledge party, date night and charity competition offers a t-shirt. Beware.

* Date nights - Private parties before-and-after can add to your alcohol bill.

* Costumes - Themed parties are fun; paying for costumes is not.

* Photography - Freelance photographers take photos at every major event.  

7. Things You Don’t Want Mom to Know About

* Tattoos - Please consider how fashionable these will look when you are a senior.

* Fake I.D.s - No comment.

* Bail Bondsmen - NEVER pay, or sign a promise to pay, a bondsman. You will kiss that 10% of your fine away, EVEN IF YOU ARE FOUND NOT GUILTY. Call your parents. They are going to find out anyway.

Know that peer pressure can be powerful, and new friends may come from very different economic backgrounds than you do. Plan ahead and enjoy your money the way YOU want to spend it.