Feed the Pig

There’s a new TV ad out for Feed the Pig, and I decided to check it out and give you my thoughts. It’s a free website whose stated goal is “to encourage and help Americans aged 25 to 34 to take control of their personal finances.” The website has been built by the American Institute of CPAs and the Advertising Council, and it’s very clearly a legitimate public service campaign.

So far, I like this site, as it seems to be well designed and very targeted to our demographic as twentysomethings. There’s a “What do YOU want to do” page that allows you to choose goals and then click “Make My Plan”. Once you’ve done that, you essentially get a checklist of things you need to do in the short term, things you need to do throughout the year, and  and things to do throughout the rest of your life. This plan includes a number of resources, such as a link to annualcreditreport.com and various other tools within the site, that can help you check off your goals. For example, there is an entire page regarding budgeting, which includes links to how to create a budget. I do wish they’d provided a template because I think they can be useful, but they do hit on some points I’ve made myself- such as recognizing what you want versus what you actually need.

There’s even a feature on the “Your Plan” page that will let you share your plan via facebook, twitter, email, or any number of other social media sites because friends and family help keep you accountable- something anyone who’s ever dieted certainly knows. Overall, I think this site is a good place to start if you want to take control of your finances, though it doesn’t have a login feature and seems to be purely informational as opposed to a truly interactive tool. Give it a spin and let me know what you think!

Credit Karma

Sorry for the length of time it’s been since my last post. Having a new house to deal with is part of it, and my job has also been impossibly busy this year. However, today I learned about an awesome tool that I wanted to share with you all.

Credit Karma is a website that allows you to see your credit score, all of your credit cards & balances, all of your loans, etc. for free. For legitimately free, not for “free for a month then you have to pay a subscription fee!” like so many of the “free” credit report sites out there. The way they make their money is by selling you credit cards- so you do have to contend with some ads- but they aren’t terribly intrusive and if all you want to do is track your credit, you don’t need to worry about them at all. Credit score checks from Credit Karma are soft hits, so they won’t negatively affect your score like applying for a credit card or a loan will.

You do need to give some personal information to sign up, but you can see that it’s a secure login site (https instead of http in your browser, Chrome will verify its identity, etc.) and once you’ve signed up, you immediately get your TransUnion credit score and a neat little outline of all of your debt- credit cards and loans (broken out by type) will show on the lefthand side and you can review each type of debt in more detail.

If you weren’t aware, there are three major credit reporting companies: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. When I applied for my mortgage and got my credit scores, they were all within a similar range- I think something like 20-30 points of each other. So while Credit Karma only gives you one, it’s quite rare that they’ll vary particularly between the three companies. If you do want to check your Experian and Equifax reports for free, you can check out the FTC’s Free Credit Reports page.

The reason I mention these other companies in relation to Credit Karma is because Credit Karma also shows you your VantageScore. This is essentially the answer that the Big Three credit reporting companies came up with to compete with the FICO score. Despite my credit score from TransUnion being quite firmly in the Good section, my VantageScore is a “C”, which sounds cruddy until you realize that this is just one of many methods used to report…and that C means “Prime”, vs. “B” being “Prime Plus” and “A” being “Super Prime”. So a C, especially a high C, isn’t really a big deal, even though you might think that at first when you log in and see it. VantageScore is also still far less popular with lenders than FICO, so don’t let it worry you if your VS isn’t as high as you’d like it to be.

I’ve just started using the site so I can’t speak to its other tools, but I can tell you that I’m stoked to be using this site. Their twitter is highly responsive if you have any questions about the service and the site is very easy to navigate. Give it a shot if you want to know more about your credit score!

The Reliable Vicenarian Returns: Homebuying Advice

Well hello! Some reliable person I am, not updating in 6 months. I’ve been busy, not that that’s an excuse, but what I’ve been busy with has been something with which I can now help you: trying to buy a house.

This will take some time and a series of posts, but the first item I’m going to go through with you is where everyone should start: finding out how much you can afford. It doesn’t do you any favors to start assuming what you can afford by looking at listings on a website, plugging in numbers to their mortgage calculator, and thinking, “hey, I can afford that payment!” This is how I started looking, and it wasn’t long before a family member who worked in realty provided me with a much-needed reality check: mortgage calculators on websites like Redfin, Zillow, and ZipRealty aren’t accurate predictors of what you will actually be able to buy. You might think that you can afford an $813/month payment, for example, if you split it with 2 roommates like you do your current rent; however, they’re not financing based on you having roommates. When renting, if you can’t afford to pay, you’re evicted and the landlord can rent the space out to someone else. When you buy a home, the bank or lender doesn’t really want to have to foreclose on you, because they can’t rent that home out; they then own it and have to sell it themselves. To put it simply, banks don’t want to own homes, so they qualify people very carefully, especially due to the rash of foreclosures that happened in the middle of the recession. Due to the change in banking and realty practices in recent years, you’ll need to get a pre-qualification or pre-approval from a lender before you make an offer on a house, and it’s best to do this before you even start looking so that you have realistic expectations of what you can afford.

Each bank or lender calculates the numbers differently, but the general gist is this: 1/4 to 1/3 of your monthly salary should be able to cover your monthly payment, which includes mortgage, home insurance, and taxes. Most mortgage calculators are simply giving you your mortgage payment, but in some towns you might end up with another $150 in taxes and $100 in insurance- so what looked like $800 a month is actually more like $1000. They also look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, and calculate how much of your monthly wages go to other things. Generally speaking, they don’t want to go much higher than 40% of your gross (pre-tax) monthly income going to debt, leaving you 60% for things like food, gas, and utilities. That includes ALL debt you might have, such as a car loan, child support payment, or student loans, so if you have more of that, you will be eligible for less of a loan.

Something important to remember is that credit cards do also factor into this. Our generation is tending to use credit cards in a smarter way, such as only putting essentials that earn us a certain percentage of rewards on our cards and paying them off in full each month to build up our credit. However, this practice should be halted altogether two months before you attempt to qualify for financing. When a lender goes to qualify you, they do so based on your credit report, which will show your monthly payment on cards rather than your balance. A $25/month payment will lower your purchase price by $5000. So, for example, if you have 3 cards showing a $25 balance, you’ll quality for $15,000 less in a loan than you would without those balances. Your lender isn’t going to be able to trust your word that you pay them in full each month and don’t actually keep a balance- they are only going on your credit report. This can take 60 days to update once you’ve paid off all of your cards, hence my recommendation that you cease credit card spending two months before you try to qualify for financing. You also don’t want to open any new cards if you’re looking for a home, as that counts as a hard hit to your credit score and will lower it.

So, the bottom line is this: quit spending on your credit cards 60 days before you want to qualify for a loan, and then get in touch with a lender to see what you can afford before you start seriously looking at houses. If you are in the New England area, I have a very good resource for helping you with pre-approval on a loan. If you’d like her name, feel free to comment!

Next up: the best resources to use on your home search!

You’re Shopping So Wrong.

Today on The Reliable Vicenarian, I’m broadening my reach. I saw something today that disturbed me so deeply, I decided to write a post addressing it even though it’s not necessarily directed at my target audience. I’ve touched on the subject before, but there is just a rampant problem with how people shop in this country.

Sometime last year, I read a blog (which I can’t find for the life of me) about how WalMart and Target are soooooo terrible because you go in and you just can’t help yourself, you HAVE to buy so many things and oh, no, WalMart doesn’ t save you money, it just makes you poor!

Nope. The low prices at WalMart that make you want things because they’re cheap are not why you’re poor. You’re poor because you have no self-control.


This applies to people of all ages. Today, I went to the grocery store. I had my list with me, and I did get a few things that weren’t on it, but it was because I’d been adding as I went to be sure of how much I was spending and found that I had enough extra to get myself some yogurt for post-lunch snacks during the week while staying in my $20/week guideline. The grocery store I prefer to use is Hannaford, because they have a handy online shopping list feature. It doesn’t print the prices of the items you’ve got on your list or show them if you’re looking at the list on a smartphone, but it does rearrange your list so that all of the items that are in the same section of the store are grouped together.

What I saw there was not people who knew where they were going because a list had told them where all of the things they were looking for were. I saw people who were stumbling around with at best a handwritten list, and at worst, no list at all, picking things up willy-nilly, filling their carts with whatever they felt they wanted.

Most stores nowadays offer some sort of online-list service where you can calculate exactly what you’re going to be spending before you ever get into the store. Use them. It will not just save you money, it will save you time. The five minutes it takes you to make the list might seem like a chore, but because I make that list beforehand, I zip through and can get in and out of the store within ten minutes. Not so for the people who go in knowing vaguely what they need, but not knowing exactly what they want to buy. They stay in the store for ages, meandering through and picking up anything they like- the same behavior described in the WalMart/Target blog I read.

It’s very easy to blame things on your environment, but it’s also complete crap to do so. Use the tools available to you, make shopping lists (online or at the very least written,) and buy only what you need instead of picking up everything you decide that you want on a whim.

Play.

Coming a few weeks after my post on Want Versus Need, this may seem a bit strange, but if you’ve downloaded my budget and read that post, you’ll see that my expenditures do include money for fun.

The important part is to make sure that you’re paying attention to the “fun” money you spend. We all have our off weeks where we spend more than we mean to, but having a general ballpark figure that’s always in your head, it’s easier to keep those weeks from happening. Every time I go to spend money- on eating out, on a pair of shoes, on something for the house- I think, “okay, that’s $5 off of my $20 of play money for the week.” Even if I still do it, I’m at least always conscious of how much I’m spending, and it does sometimes help me to decide not to get that pint of ice cream or burger or whatever it is I’m coveting that week if I’m aware that I’ve already spent my play money.

It’s not that I don’t go out, it’s just that when I do, I don’t overdo it. You can certainly go out and have one beer, rather than getting drunk on a bunch of mixed drinks. In the first place, needing to get drunk is a problem in itself. Casual alcoholism is a rampant problem within our generation, and while I won’t tell you not to drink, I will tell you that drinking less is better for your body and your finances. Have a drink, one drink, at the bar, then switch to water (or to cola or club soda if you’re insecure about not drinking, which in itself is absurd, but common.)

If you go out to eat, there are ways to save there as well. Aside from things like groupon that will get you actual discounts, if you change the way you look at eating out, you can save. Don’t order an appetizer, an alcoholic drink, and a dessert with your entree. Drink water. If you have to have an app, share it with your friends or date. If you want alcohol, get a cheap beer. It won’t kill you, I promise, nor will it ruin the meal. With the dessert, again, share. And don’t be ashamed to eat half of your meal and take the other half home. Most restaurants serve such large portion sizes that it’s possible to eat half and be full without appetizers and desserts. If you go out and treat your meals and drinks this way, you can have fun and still be spending within your means.

Garden.

’tis the season for a gardening post! I’m cheating a bit here and copying much of this post from my old, long-neglected blog, Stupid Free Green.

Gardening is a great way to save money. If you can’t garden, at least make friends with someone who does and exchange help for food. Personally, I rely on my parents over the summer, since they end up with an overabundance of things like zucchini and tomatoes and it would be a bit redundant for me to start a container garden with them living so close by.

I’m sure some of you will say that it’s impossible for you to start a garden. You don’t have the land, or if you do you don’t have the time to care for it. Well, I say you can do it anyway, and I’ll address how someone without land can start a garden at the end of this post.

The season’s already starting, so you’ll need to look for seeds and start planting very soon!

If you have land on which you can plant, you first need to choose the size of your garden. The land on which I grew up has maintained a 30′ x 30′ plot for something like 24 years. The yield from that garden last year was well over 1,000 pounds. You don’t have to plant an area this large, and indeed it’s a decision that you’ll have to make based on the time which you have for maintenance, available room, et cetera.

Part of your consideration should come from how much room specific plants need to grow, which you’ll find when looking for seeds. You shouldn’t simply buy an assortment of vegetables, but should carefully read the packets and be certain that they are appropriate for your area (remember to consider sun and shade) and will fit in your garden (zucchini plants can get huge.) Be sure to look at various seed catalogs, such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Burpee. I would recommend tomatoes and pole beans in particular for beginners. If you have the room, winter squash is also a great crop. There is little maintenance work to be done on the plants, and the yields at the end of the season are enormous. In addition, squash will keep all through the winter in an average cellar!

Once you’ve decided on your area, the first key thing to do is fence it in. The recommendation of my mother, a lifelong gardener, is this:

Bury solid aluminum or 1/2 inch wire mesh fencing a foot to discourage field voles, three foot wire fencing with one foot buried to discourage rabbits and woodchucks, and 8 foot fencing or total enclosure to keep out deer, coyotes, and birds.

Obviously, for some neighborhoods, 8′ fencing is not necessary. However, most people will have the best results if they choose the 3′ option, even in suburban areas. A vole problem could end your entire gardening season before it has even begun- they will eat the roots and small shoots of the plants just after they’ve sprouted, and by then it may be too late to start another crop.

After you’ve fenced your garden, you will need to fertilize the soil. If you have horses, this is great news, because it’s something to do with all of the manure you’ve collected over the winter. If not, you can always buy manure from a local farm- many cow and horse farms sell their manure for gardening use. It’s completely organic and chemical-free. Fertilization can be done using a roto-tiller, or simply by loosening the first few inches of soil with a hoe or similar tool, spreading the manure, and then incorporating the two by going over the space again with the hoe.

After fertilization, divide your garden into sections for planting. You will want to do this based on the recommendations on your seed packets for how much room specific plants need. If it’s your first time planting, you can put them anywhere you want. You will want to keep specific plant types together, and be sure that if plants require part shade, they will be able to get it.

Once you’ve divided the garden, you can start planting using the instructions on the back of the seed packets. From that point, all you need to do is maintain the garden with water and wait for the harvest to come!

For those of you without land on which to grow, as promised, here’s a great solution- container gardening. Certainly it’s generally more difficult to get a large yield, but it IS possible to cut down your food bill a bit, all while enjoying locally-grown food.

Guest Post! Andrew on Plastic Jungle.

My friend Andrew expressed interest in contributing to TRV, and I gladly accepted! I hope you enjoy his post, please feel free to comment!

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As a (hopefully recurring) guest to do this portion of The Reliable Vicenarian, I will be discussing one of my favorite services at the moment: Plastic Jungle.

I found this website last December in the Metro within an article about what to do with your unused giftcards. Get this: you can sell old giftcards/merchandise credits to them (with at least a $25 balance) for almost 100% of their face value. You can also buy gift cards at a similarly discounted rate.

First, let’s analyze the SELLING portion of this website. Think about it: You have some giftcards laying around from the holidays, birthday, anniversary, etc., but what are you going to do with $25 to The Melting Pot? I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard that you have to spend more than $25 for dinner there. Now I’m sure it’s a great place to go out (Dipping food into cheese? Please!), but it’s not worth it to go out and spend that money just to use the giftcard. Politely thank Aunt Barbara, and then pawn the card. This website is hassle free and so much safer than meeting a man in an alleyway from Craigslist to sell the card to (Please, don’t do this.) They even offer a printable, postage paid shipping label. All you do is slap it on an envelope, stick the card in, and ship it. Then, they’ll either send you a check or deposit it straight into your Paypal account! Same goes for merchandise credit from clothes that you bought and didn’t like it/it didn’t fit. Typically the store will give you a receipt or a card with the balance on it. I had done an online survey and gotten a $25 giftcard to Express. Do I shop there? Yes. Have I spent more than $25 at once there? Yes. Do I need ANOTHER fullback vest RIGHT NOW? Like a hole in the head. I’d rather throw that $18.75 into my bank account. Obviously you don’t get the full value of the card; how would THEY make any money? Wait, does that infer that they sell them back to consumers, too?

BUYING cards. Do you grocery shop at the same store EVERY WEEK? Do you use coupons or shop the sales? The coupons or sales you buy usually force you to purchase a specific item to save some dough. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a savings on your TOTAL PURCHASE with NO RESTRICTIONS? To illustrate this purpose, I’ll use their Wal-Mart cards. They offer a 2% savings on Wal-Mart. Sure, you only save $2 by buying a $100 giftcard for $98, but weren’t you just going to shop there anyways? You can even use the same credit card that you would have used to buy the groceries (to earn credit card points) to purchase the card from them. Then, you use the card to buy your stuff. They mail it very quickly (mine took about 2-3 days) from Colorado. So we just saved 2% on groceries for the month (calculate your year to feel even better.) But, what else can we do with this service? Best Buy. Their Best Buy cards are 5% off. Once you save up enough money for that TV that you want (Note that I said want. See the previous week’s installment of The Reliable Vicenarian: “Want Versus Need”), you can save $50 on that $999.99 television. Don’t you feel even BETTER?

The cons? (1) You can’t buy/sell every gift card in existence. (2) Balances under $25 are also not bought or sold. (3) Some majors stores are not even carried (Shaw’s, for example.) (4) Finally, you don’t get fully reimbursed when selling.

You aren’t going to save a TON of money here. But, if you plan your major purchases and stock up on cards from stores that you frequent, you can trim some fat off of the edges of your budget, allowing you to put more into that savings account (See previous installment of The Reliable Vicenarian: “A Friend Asks: How Do I Make My Money Work For Me?“). Be a good little vicenarian, and you won’t have to imagine using this website to save 7% on God knows how many $205 aluminum gutters at Home Depot when you remodel that first house. You’ll be doing it.

Tagged

Want Versus Need.

This is a post that I perhaps should have made first, as it is one of the core tenets of my money-saving philosophy. I’m going to discuss with you the difference between wanting something and needing it.

I know you might be doubting me right now. “How,” you think, “could this woman think she knows what I need?”

I don’t know what you need. But I do know what you don’t need. You don’t need Mass Effect 3 the day it comes out. You don’t need a brand new Kitchen Aid mixer complete with ice cream maker attachment. You don’t need a 3rd generation iPad or a $200 dress or a high-end living room furniture set.

I do not care at all how much you want these things- they are not essential to your life. I have no sympathy for you if you put yourself into debt because you have no self control- LEARN TO HAVE SOME. If you can afford to buy all of these things- and again, as I’ve stated previously, by “afford” I mean “with the spare money you have after paying your expenses in cash, not credit, and putting money into savings”- that’s perfectly fine. But if you’re hanging on by a thread, barely making rent every month and putting zero dollars into your savings? Don’t you DARE make purchases like those I’ve listed above.

You are in your 20s. You are not rich. What you need are the following things: food, water, and shelter. That’s it. With those things, you will not die. That is all that you, by definition, need. You might think that you need a brand new mixer because you don’t have one at all and you love baking- but you could just as easily find that a relative’s giving one away, or that Savers has one from the ’80s that still works just fine and costs you $20 instead of $300, or that a hand mixer costs much less and works just as well (which, from experience, it does, for most things.) You might think that you need every single new video game as soon as it comes out or a new wardrobe every single season, but you don’t. You want those things. I can guarantee that you’re not going to die of boredom without that new video game, or DVD, or iPad. I can also guarantee you that, unless you’re working in the fashion industry (and probably even then…,) you’re not going to lose your job if you don’t buy an entire new wardrobe every three months. To survive, you don’t really need very much- and you can almost always find things for less expensive (or even free) if you use the resources available to you.

If you’re about to move into an apartment and you need to furnish it, check with your family and friends first. My first microwave was a hand-me-down, as was the stand it’s on. My kitchen set was my boyfriend’s brother’s. My couch, armchair, ottoman, and 2 end tables came from a friend. My coffee table came from my mom (as did my coffeepot.) My TV trays were a yard-sale find by my grandmother. My bread maker, waffle maker, and crock pot all came from my other grandmother. Any of my fancy new kitchen equipment was received as holiday gifts. Don’t be ashamed to take handouts- you’re not “too good” for them, and think of it this way: if the option is to take handouts or to gain more credit card debt, what’s better for you in the long run?

Finally, if you really want something that’s a big ticket item (a fancy mattress, that freaking Kitchen Aid mixer, a new TV,) wait for it. Save up for it and shop sales- there’s nearly always someplace that’s having one. Look for manufacturer coupons online. Compare prices at various stores (it’s really very simple to do online) and pick the cheapest. Or, as I did, wait for the holidays to come around.

If you take nothing else away from this post, please take away this: weigh every purchase before you make it. I don’t mean asking yourself whether or not you should be buying groceries- but if you’re at the mall with a friend and you see a top you want, think- do I have something similar to this in my wardrobe already? If the latest in your favorite series of video games is coming out soon, ask yourself- could I have just as much fun doing a play-along with a friend for a few months until I can grab a used version for half the cost? If you’re staring at that beautiful $300 Kitchen Aid stand mixer yet again, frothing at the mouth because you’ve wanted one since you can remember, ask yourself- is there something I might need that $300 for more?

I can guarantee you that no matter how much I seriously need you want that mixer, there is. So work on your self control, and I promise you’ll thank me later.

A friend asks: How do I make my money work for me?

I’ve always been pretty good with money and, per your advice, I recently opened a savings account. Now I have money in there, but I’m earning like $.05 a month. Any suggestions on investing or doing something with savings to earn more on it?

I feel your pain, my friend. Interest rates are, not surprisingly, pretty low right now. I tend to be satisfied with just saving money straight out, but if you do want to make your money work for you, as it were, there are a few options.

The most risk-free way to earn more interest is by opening a Certificate of Deposit account.

A CD is a special type of deposit account offered at a higher rate of interest than a regular savings account.  Unlike many other investments, our Certificates of Deposit offer guaranteed yields, flexibility, and the safety of FDIC insurance.  You know exactly what you will get in return and when your money will be received.  That is because you lock in a high rate that’s guaranteed from the day you open the account until the day it matures.

  • Terms from 91 days to 5 years
  • Competitive rates, fixed for the term of deposit
  • Only $500 minimum deposit to open [source]
CDs are a good choice because they’re stable- they don’t depend upon the health of the stock market, they’re simply a higher-interest savings account. They are federally insured up to 250,000. [FDIC.gov– this link also has a lot of good information on how CDs work.] They are completely risk-free accounts due to the insurance and the fact that the rate is locked in when you deposit the money.
The one downside is that you don’t have access to the money until the CD matures; generally, if you withdraw before that point, you are charged a penalty or must forfeit some of the interest earned. However, CDs are still a good, stable option for people who want to earn interest rather than putting their money into the currently tumultuous stock market. If you’re really concerned about needing to withdraw in the short-term, you can get a CD with a short maturity term, or you could only deposit the minimum needed to open one and keep some in your normal savings account (of course, the more money is in the account, the more interest will be earned.)

In terms of investing, I’ll admit that haven’t got much experience- my only invested money is in a 401(k) account. However, The Money Show is a good place to start- they run 9AM-noon on Saturdays on 96.9 Boston Talks (and you can listen online,) and accept calls from people in all financial situations. Just out of college with their first job, couples with young children looking for houses, and older people getting ready to retire- they’re very helpful to listen to, even if you don’t actually call in.

A friend asks: Advice for college students?

I’ve looked over your budget, and while I’m sure I can tweak it on my own – do you have any advice for those of us who are still in college, and only work part time? This semester I’m working less (about $8/hr after taxes, between 12-15 hours per week) so I feel like I’m barely breaking even between school expenses, gas for my car, and trying to put money into my savings account every week. I buy my own food when I can – I live at home but I work at a restaurant so I end up eating there a lot since it’s free. I tried keeping a record of my expenses on Excel (I’m good for about a week then I stop, ugh) and I found that most of my other food costs were coffee and the occasional Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods visit. I pay my phone bill ($30 monthly) and about $150 a month for rent. and for the other costs, school supplies run me between $10-50 weekly, maybe $30-60 a week for gas since I tend to not fill up my tank, and I try to put $50 a week into emergency savings, about $75 (mostly for the gas, really), and the rest (usually about ~$20) to fun savings.

First off, make sure you keep up that budget! It’s important to see how your money is going to work over the course of the month, and it’s particularly convenient to be able to open it and look through your end balances. If you know that the lowest you’ll be all month is always $200 higher than your paycheck, you might feel okay about spending an extra $50 on having fun. But if your lowest balance is $300, that $50 might be crucial in getting through the month and paying all your bills.

Secondly, if you use a debit card, make sure you have online banking. It’s a really easy way to track your expenses. Sometimes I’ve spent a bit more than I mean to, and rather than writing every expense in to my budget, I’ll go in at the end of the week to double-check my balance and look at what I’ve spent over the week. If I notice I’m being gluttonous and got Wendy’s 3 times that week (it’s been known to happen,) I can give myself a reality check and cut that particular spending down.

The best tip for your situation, with the limited knowledge I have, is to make your own coffee or get it through work, and to try to shop at lower priced places! Since you’re already not making a ton of money, even little expenses like that can be significant. Whole Foods tends to be a far more expensive shopping experience than, say, Shaw’s or Stop & Shop (or my personal favorite, Hannaford.)

I’d also suggest looking for another part-time job or starting your own- for example, I cleaned houses and straightened up yards for extra cash while I was in college. I found clients through Craigslist and could make my own schedule, only giving up a few hours a weekend- and could easily make $80 on a few houses. Doing work outdoors could even be a pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning! Again, $80 may not be a significant number for everyone, but in college that’s a decent chunk of change. Also, look into selling things you have but don’t need- old shows on DVD, a camera you’re not using anymore, things like that.

I hope those tips are helpful! Unfortunately, college is hard because you’re trying to balance school and work, but I always found that cutting spending and finding alternative sources of income helped me out.