Small savings can add up big time

Elizabeth Rund

Credit: Ron Soltys

When college students struggle to balance a social life, course work and a job, money may be the last thing they want to keep track of. But with a bit of effort, a few dollars here and there can eventually add up to savings.

Credit: Take care

Using credit cards is one of the easiest ways to fall into debt. Credit cards can be addicting because students can get into the habit of just reaching for a card instead of reaching for cash. Part of the appeal is not having to pay right away, but this can be a trap for many students.

“Limit yourself to one credit card,” said Josh Arner, senior flight technology major. “I have had one card the entire time I have been here, and I have a limit bigger than two or three cards put together. It’s better for your credit.”

Establishing good credit allows students to be able to purchase items such as cars and houses with less hassle and perhaps even a lower rate.

Different strategies, same result

Semester tuition:


Meal plan:




A full tank of gas:


Finding small ways to save money?


Some students, like Arner, have no problems saving money.

“The day I get my paycheck it goes right into my savings account,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about not having enough money.”

Others, however, may still need a helping hand.

Taking advantage of student discounts, buying non-perishable foods in bulk, buying generic foods, shopping at discount or thrift stores and investing in items like a coffee maker instead buying Starbucks every day can all be ways to save money.

Another easy way of stretching money is through Web sites like, which provide local and long distance telephone service via broadband connection. The premium plan costs $19.95 a month and includes call waiting, voicemail, call forwarding and caller ID.

Some students say the best way to save money is to set aside a portion of each paycheck.

“If you have a job, take a certain amount out of each paycheck in cash and put it in an envelope,” sophomore nursing major Amanda Papcun said.

Sophomore psychology major Christy Senyes follows the same logic.

“I save a portion of my paycheck every week (so if) the opportunity arises for me to travel, I can afford it,” she said.

The American Bankers Association Education Foundation also offers these money-saving tips on its Web site,

– Create a budget. Keep records of all expenses, noting how much money is being spent on which items.

– Get organized. Keep all statements and records in dated file folders. This will make it easier to pay bills on time.

– Keep your car at home. Theft, parking and insurance costs will only add to a college student’s worries.

– Smart spending equals savings. Look for inexpensive forms of entertainment, such as going to museums or reading a book in the local coffeehouse. Check out sales racks, cut coupons and search the Internet. A little research can save a lot of money.

– Pay attention. Make sure to read bills and bank statements each month. This helps to keep track of spending and catch any mistakes that may have been made.

– Protect yourself. Do not be a victim of identity theft. Protect credit card, PIN and bank account numbers. Invest in a shredder to dispose of all the old bills and statements.

– Get smart about credit. Credit cards are a loan with an obligation to repay. Don’t spend more than you can afford.

College can be stressful for some students, especially when it comes to money. A final tip for making every penny count: Remember to save all that spare change — it could add up to fund anything from a tank of gas to a trip to New York.

Contact features correspondent Elizabeth Rund at [email protected].