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Student Bothered: Living like a 'poor college student' can form lifetime habits

How many times have you heard the phrase, “I'm a poor college student.” Chances are, you've at the very least had those words either uttered by someone you know or perhaps even heard it on a movie, since this cliché and subsequent assumption often is true.

All kidding and joking aside, there's some truth to the notion that most college students don't have an abundance of money and live on microwave dinners and anything they can scrounge up on campus. Those same struggling students also will point to the rising cost of books, tuition and just about anything else that is college related, and mom and dads aren't exactly inclined to help pay for all those expenses while still rolling out the proverbial red carpet in the form of spending money. More of than not, kids in college have to work for anything above and beyond they want in the form of cash on hand.

While this lifestyle hardly sounds enviable, those who struggle financially who aren't in school or the neighboring university could learn from the lean way of living most of these kids implement.

College students have, in most instances, what can only be described as a modest income. You may want to take a look at what you're making, implement some changes and try to live on half of what you make by forcing yourself to cut expenses that you deem more frivolous than necessity. College students on a tight budget focus on the essentials and nothing more. Food, water, housing and maybe a stray night out at the bar typically define their existence.

Granted, that isn't exactly the trajectory you'll long to experience, but in some instances the financially challenged and equally strapped person might want to section of their budget by “needs” versus “wants” and only jot down the monthly charge of the former, literally wiping away anything from cable television in its current format or anything else that the college student would deem a luxury. They're not going out for dinners every night, nor are they watching five or six movie channels as part of their TV package.
So, why are you?

If you can afford it comfortably, then have at it. For those who can't but still do it, you're creating an atmosphere where money can't survive, and your budget is rendered obsolete.

Does this mean you can't ever go out to dinner or on vacation, or have to eat frozen pizzas for the rest of your life? Absolutely not. What it does mean is sometimes salvation financially can come from the most obscure places, in this case the comings and goings of just how a college student lives.

Smart Cents: Saving money is easy, but why do we still ignore sound advice?

Saving money is easy, right? Just about anyone can understand that saving money is simply budgeting what you make and not spending more than that bottom line number.

But as easy as that sounds, the majority of people are in financial trouble, if not out and out peril, and struggle mightily with something we've all deemed to be relatively rudimentary.

So where is the gap, and how do we close it as it pertains to saving money or living financially smarter?

While there isn't one answer that jumps out more so than another, you must truly look at saving money through the eyes of a child or as someone who knows little to nothing about financial planning or would be considered an expert in the field.

Saving money, in essence, has two forms that the process takes: you either don't make enough to cover your expenses and can't cut anything else from your budget or you simply overspend and refuse to adjust your money habits for the better.

Ironically, it almost seems as though we don't treat our money like our own, and instead spend it as if we weren't working hard to earn every last penny. Some would argue that they don't really look at their money as a means to pay bills or even enjoy themselves but rather spend and save as though they're running a business, exercising patience and a kind of practicality that very few consumers and the masses alike can display.

Saving money really boils down to a lifestyle change in both aforementioned instances. Much like someone tells themselves that they want to lose weight, then proceeds to go on the proverbial crash diet, they fail to realize that the long term is much more pertinent for success. You don't just start eating grilled chicken and vegetables all day, every day after you've been used to burgers and fries.

The same goes for saving money. If you're accustomed to spending hundreds per month on eating out a restaurants, buying clothes whenever you feel like it and are feeling the money pinch, you can't go cold turkey per say but rather should start weening yourself off your current habits and into a more realistic approach to spending.

The first and foremost goal is identifying and admitting there's a money saving issue. Once that happens, the path you take should be your own but not one that is overly complicated.

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