During my undergraduate and graduate programs I worked anywhere from 1-3 part time jobs ranging from 5-30 hours a week. I was very conscious of making my rent every month, paying for books and tuition, but everything else seemed to end up on my credit card.
I was making between $5000-$12,000 a year, and even if you average that to $8000 a year for five years, that’s $40,000.
Student jobs are never the most lucrative, but the money can add up if you make sure to actually keep track of it. Which I did not.
In no particular order, here is some things to not waste your money on in university
A fancy apartment. Find roommates. It will be one of the only times in your life where you can get 2-6 people to come together and throw massive parties with 1 hours notice. It will also be (hopefully) one of the only times where you will have to do dishes for 2-6 people constantly. You will love some roommates and hate others, but it’s an experience that will make you a more accommodating person.
Eating out constantly. Learn how to cook. Teach yourself or enlist the services of your numerous roommates.
If you are living on your own for the first time the thought of cooking something half edible and half healthy is scary. I once almost burned down my shared house baking peanut butter cookies. Some people have never let me live it down, but 5 years later I’ve worked very hard to teach myself how to cook.
There are often resources on your campus, either in the health centre or the nutrition services about learning how to cook affordable, healthy easy meals.
Many universities also have food banks for students. If times are really tough, use it. You pay for this service through your tuition and you must not feel shame to enlist a service you are helping to keep open. They also often have workshops or recipes so even if you do not need food at the time, drop by to see what resources they have available. Additionally, check out if your campus as a Good Food Box. These are boxes of fresh produce; fruits and vegetables that are delivered once a month and range from 10-30lbs and $10-$30 respectively. It is a great way to get produce in an accessible, affordable, regular way.
Expensive beauty products. There is nothing good that can come out of a girl loose in Sephora with a credit card and time to kill. There are millions of products designed to make us look and feel more pretty, beautiful, glamorous or attractive. There are billions more dollars in this industry to convince us that we need $60 face cream, $100 foundation or hundreds upon hundreds of dollars in hair products that you will inevitably and literally grow out of.
For most people university is the time that straddles youth and adulthood and there is a lot of identify formation, self-learning and self-discovery going on. This is amazing, scary, fun and important. This will be the time where you are trying to figure out just who you are.
There are many ways to do that. None of them should involve trying to find yourself in a beauty department.
Wear makeup if it makes you feel more you, but real discovery does not come in blush or lipstick shades.
Join a club, volunteer, read your textbooks and talk to the thousands of other smart and potentially inspiring students at your school and it will go way farther in developing who you are and who you want to be in your life.
I spent way too much time and money feeling insecure, uncomfortable and awkward and I tried to cover that up with makeup or hair treatments. Yet the people that know me from university and who still look up to me know me for my values, attitudes and convictions and not for how closely I resembled a model during 9:00 am stats class.
What did you wish you spent less on in university or college?