How to Save $ in Grad School
Whether you’re considering grad school or already there one thing is for certain: it’s expensive! Even with scholarships it’s likely that cost of living (not including books) is going to cost you. A New York Times survey found that undergraduate students in 2010 graduated with an average of $25,250. Combine that with a Forbes.com article that a graduate student takes an average of $12,746 a year in federal loans and you’re likely feeling a little overwhelmed. The good news is that you can save in graduate school with a few easy to remember tips and tricks. So if you’re like me and you know that debt doesn’t look good on you, read on my tips on how to save money in grad school.
- Skim off the Top: So this is going to require a little bit of payment, but don’t worry! If you are taking out loans for your education, it’s a great idea if you can make payments on the interest of the loans. The principal (the amount you borrow) will likely be increased by a few thousand (due to interest) by the time you graduate. It might not seem like a big deal now, but you’ll see it when those monthly payments come in. Think of paying on the interest as lowering your future monthly payments. Wherever you borrow from is likely to send you statements showing how much interest has accrued over time, so it is fairly easy to manage. It may not seem like a lot, but putting a $100 (or as much as you can) a month toward your interest on your loan will you save you thousands in the future.
- Take It To The Web: One of the easiest ways to cut down on your monthly living expenses is to cut off your cable. Although we should be studying, TV provides a great escape from all those books and papers, but it can also be expensive. Investing in online streaming, like HuluPlus and Netflix, can reduce your bill from around $75 to $15! Also, internet streaming players like Roku connect easily to your television and allow you to stream tons of free internet channels without a monthly bill! If online shopping is your thing, check out programs like StudentAdvantage and AmazonPrime. They offer free expedited shipping and retail discounts to students for a one time fee. You’ll be surprised how much you save!
- There’s an app for that: If you’re like me you rarely carry cash on you. We’ll address that later, but if you want to keep track of your spending, there are tons of free apps that remind you of where your money is going. Apps like Mint, or my personal favorite Checkbook Free, connect to your checking accounts and track your spending with every swipe of your debit card. If you’re a visual learner the app can track your spending in graph form. Now you’ll have no reason not to know where your last paycheck went!
- Stay Green: As mentioned before, I don’t like to carry cash. Why? Because it makes my spending real and I don’t like handing those bills over. This is exactly why I have to carry it! I allot myself a $20 allowance each week and use that cash for my shopping. Just that $20 bill for all of my takeout and random drug store runs. Not surprisingly, I became much choosier about what I spent that money on. Did I really need that milkshake on the way home? Should I go out for ice cream when I know I have froyo in the fridge? Start carrying cash and see just how much you save!
- Reward Yourself: Don’t think that saving money can’t be fun. It can! It’s exciting to see your progress and know that you are making smart financial choices before you even graduate. Set realistic goals and reward yourself when they’re reached. Splurge on a pair of shoes (on sale, of course) when you haven’t done any shopping for the month. Get a manicure if you chose to cook your meals rather than eat out for the week. Most of all, remember that you are saving for you. Invest in yourself and enjoy the returns ahead!
Brittany is a 23 year old soon-to-be graduate of Boston University School of Law. Originally from New Jersey, she attended Rutgers University-Newark Honors College and obtained a Bachelors Degree in Political Science. While there, she interned with Sisterhood Agenda as a staff writer. She is a founding member of The Gem Project, Inc., a non-profit organization that creates leadership programs for youth. Her interests are to increase financial literacy among women of color and to explore the effect of pop culture imagery on women of African descent. She can be found at BeNobodysDarling.com or Twitter.com/MissBHale.