10 Stupid Ways College Students Waste Money

by Broke Grad on September 4, 2008

For some students, college is all about partying. For others, it’s all about studying. While you may never see these two groups hanging out at the frat house together or studying with each other at the library, there is one thing that bonds them together. It’s the one thing that bonds all college students together — the uncanny ability to waste money. Here are 10 stupid ways college students waste money while they’re in school.

1. Buying new textbooks.

I bought new textbooks my first semester of college. Looking back, I can call it a rookie mistake, but now that I’m older and wiser, I can write articles explaining why you should never buy another new textbook. It can literally save you hundreds of dollars over the years.

2. Paying for software.

I’m a bit of a computer geek, so I didn’t waste much money on software in college. Some of my friends did though, and it made me cringe. You can find practically every type of program a college student needs for free, and these programs are conveniently categorized and listed in my broke student’s guide to free software and online resources.

3. Going over on cell phone plans.

I think this is something every college student does at least once. Who knew you’d want to talk to your parents this much when you left home? Or maybe you got a little carried away while texting some of your friends. Either way, the outcome is the same — a jaw-dropping cell phone bill and an extra dent in your wallet. Avoid costly overage fees by adjusting your phone habits or trying alternatives like Skype.

4. Keeping memberships that aren’t used.

Remember that free Netflix trial that was awesome over the summer, so you decided to stay enrolled? Then school starts, life gets busier, and you suddenly don’t have time to watch movies anymore. In fact, you get so busy that you forget to cancel your subscription and end up paying a monthly fee for something that you’re not even using anymore.

5. Playing too much World of Warcraft.

Arguably the most addicting game created so far, World of Warcraft has sucked over 10 million people into its world. While I still have yet to actually play the game, I witnessed the effects of it on many of my friends in grad school. It’s truly more than a game. It’s an addiction. And with that addiction comes a monthly fee and countless hours “wasted” in front of the computer.

6. Eating out too often.

Call it laziness, call it convenience, or maybe you just really suck at cooking. Eating out is fun … and expensive. Limit the number of times you eat out each week, and you may find a pleasant surprise waiting in your wallet — money.

7. Drinking too much.

Most college towns have hangouts with dirt cheap drink specials, but that doesn’t do you any good if you just down ten $1 beers instead of three regular priced beers. We also don’t make the best decisions after having a few too many, so keep it in moderation and avoid doing something stupid like buying a round of shots for the entire bar on your broke college student budget.

8. Failing or dropping out of classes.

I have a couple of friends who have been working on their bachelor’s degree for 8 years now. College isn’t for everybody. The money that they’ve repeatedly spent on courses they’ve failed or dropped out of could have been put to better use towards something like specialized training or certification in a field that they’re interested in.

9. Spending leftover money from student loans.

If your student loan money exceeds your tuition and fees, you end up getting the leftover money back, and you’re faced with a big decision. What do you do with the money? The wise decision is to give it back — use it to make an early payment on your student loans. What most college students end up deciding to do — spend it.

10. Not saving any money.

If I had to choose between robbing a street performer’s tip jar or a college student’s savings account, I’d choose the tip jar. Admittedly, most college students don’t have much to work with in the first place. However, I still think every college student should try to keep a small emergency fund in a high-yield savings account. That way they’ll be prepared after inevitably doing one of the money-wasting things I previously mentioned, and in the meantime, they’ll earn a few extra dollars.

If you enjoyed this post, subscribe to my RSS feed or via email for free updates.