FB’s Words for College Students

Just for fun, I thought I’d throw out what I learned (and wish I had learned) either before starting college or during college.

Learn how to cook

This is the time of your life where you’re old enough to be let near a hot stove, and you have the free time to actually LEARN how to cook. Not to mention all the freeloading friends you’ve got who are totally willing to be your guinea pigs.

In this time, I learned basics of cooking meat, veggies, rice, sushi, and slowly started experimenting with sauces and techniques.

I’m by no means a chef, but given some potatoes, chicken, spices, and a pan, I can whip up a pretty tasty dish if I do say so myself in a half hour or less.

Plus, it teaches you organization and how to manage your time (like leaving the potatoes to roast slowly while you prepare the chicken, because it takes a shorter amount of time to cook chicken).

It’ll also save you a ton of money and you can entertain at home, impress friends, girlfriends, boyfriends and weasel them into doing dirty things like cleaning in exchange for nosh.

This advice goes for sewing/mending clothes, doing your laundry and all those little life skills you should be learning and not making your poor mother still do for you every weekend you come back to visit.

Get a job

A part-time job won’t kill you, and it’ll not only give you some spending cash, but you’ll get to meet new friends/co-workers, it keeps you out of trouble, keeps you busy, and makes your organize your time better.

I had a couple of part-time and full-time jobs during school, and I found that I became incredibly efficient when I knew I had to get work done, and I had other obligations to meet.

It was a great life lesson/skill to learn, and I’m glad I went through the challenges of juggling school/work. Plus, you can start building your network early, who knows if you’ll need to be in contact with them in the future for a job or an opportunity?

You never know.

Learn how to manage your money

Go out. Have fun. Drink. Shop. Party.

Just remember that if you’re on student loans (the way I was), you’ll have to pay them back eventually, and when you do, 2 of things are bound to happen

1. You’re going to feel like you don’t make enough money (net) with your new job to cover bills AND student debt.

2. You’re going to regret having blown $200/weekend on partying because you could’ve saved more and been ahead of the game when you started working.

I experienced both, which is kind of effed up because I do make good money ($67,000), but when you take away taxes, bills, and whatever else, it amounts to not-very-much at the end of the month IF, IF, IF, IF you continue that lifestyle of eating out and drinking every weekend and blowing money like it’s water.

That’s when I began that kind of monk-like regime to really kill my debt, but it hasn’t been fun depriving myself for the past 2.5 years, let me tell ya…

The end is in sight, but only after I really, REALLY cut back on everything I was used to.

Which brings me to my next point..

Get used to living frugally on a student budget and stick to it

Everyone says this little nugget of wisdom, but it is SO TRUE.

Generally speaking once people make more money, they begin spending more as a result. The key is to make more money but keep your current lifestyle.

I’m not talking about eating only ramen every day, or refusing to pay for TV or a telephone just so you can buy the newest Vogue magazine — I’m talking about being careful with your purchases.

Example: Buying a car?

Do you really need that souped up Honda? Or can you live with something less expensive and more manageable?

Or no car at all if you can swing it? How about public transportation for the first 2 years until you are in a good financial position to pay cash and not lease it or have to make monthly payments?

Don’t stress out about grades so much

Life isn’t about school, grades, percentages and making it on the Dean’s List. Who cares if you got an 85 instead of a 90 on a paper? WHO CARES?

What matters is that you get the degree in the end, you learned something useful during school and you can get a job out of it.

No employer is EVER going to ask you what your marks were in a certain course, and use that to judge taking you over someone else.

And as you gain more experience in the industry and make contacts, THAT is more important than what you got in school.

What you learn and what you get in school is only good enough to get you that interview and through that door.

That’s it. Then it’s done; all 4 years of hard work, all hinging on the first 3 months of trying to get into the right industry/business.

After that, it’s just hard work and elbow grease.

Case in point, because I’m not just talking out of my ass:

I graduated with average marks from a good business school with honours, and out of sheer luck (and hard work I daresay), I could be making as much, if not double or triple the amount as someone who stressed themselves out during business school to get that extra 5% over me.

So just chill (frugally). Learn how to cook. Enjoy being a freeloading student with your friends, and make them your friends for life.

Work hard, but only hard enough to do average-to-well, get the degree and get out into the real world. (Naturally, VERY good grades if you can hack it without killing yourself is ideal because it makes getting that first job easier, but not necessary).

(Don’t tell your parents I said that. 😛 Let’s keep it between us.)

Don’t keep up with the Joneses

So what if Betty got an iPhone 3G? You’re not the one who blew $300 she didn’t have in the bank account just to have the hottest phone on campus, PLUS upped her cellphone and data plan bill to $70 when you were doin’ juuuust fine with a landline phone at $20/month.

There’s no need to prove who’s Marc Jacob’s clutch is bigger than the other, because when Betty graduates, she’s going to just keep upping her lifestyle with every small gross salary increase, and you’re just going to be chillin’ like a villain because you made some smart financial decisions during your college years.

This advice also goes for anything like shoes, bags, blowouts at the salon, manicures, pedicures, spa trips, clothing binges, shopping sprees and trips during Spring Break to try and outdo one another.

I’m not saying deprive yourself and NEVER EVER buy a Marc Jacob’s bag, but if you are going to do it, make sure you can afford it without having to scrounge for rent money and turn some tricks to make ends meet.

Don’t buy textbooks if you can help it

I found that I could always borrow one (maybe split the cost with someone?) and generally speaking my textbooks stayed in their shrinkwrap, untouched, unused because everything I needed to learn or understand was taught in class. And I took very good notes.

You’ll know within the first half of the semester if you really need a textbook. There’ll still be time to buy it, so don’t rush to buy it right away.

And if you do buy it, look for used textbooks because the newest editions probably just changed a comma or the foreword and now they’re gonna charge you 50% more just because it’s in a new, shiny wrapper. Don’t be a sucker.

Invest in a laptop if you can afford it

It’s nice to have something you can bring around campus, or to a friend’s house, or to just use in a coffee shop to do work while you’re waiting for your girls to show up.

Well worth the cash, and is much more portable than a desktop. Because what happens if you want to do a bit of studying in between class, but you don’t have time to run back to your desktop in the dorm?

Just pull out your laptop and get cracking.

I can’t live without a laptop now if I’m to keep working. LOL. Desktops are only worth it as a secondary computer (backup), but I find I rarely need it.

Don’t get suckered into getting Free Stuff

I’m talking about those shady credit card application booths that show up during orientation week and ask you to sign up for a credit card to win a free bag/shirt/waterbottle/whatever.

It’s just junk anyway, that free stuff. It’ll clutter your life and make you sick.

Avoid signing up for a credit card at those booths, and apply for one through a bank that has reward points (like President’s Choice Mastercard that gives me grocery/pharmacy points), and it’ll save you cash in the long run.

And keep to only ONE credit card. Don’t ruin your credit rating just for a free beer bong, and because you want to floss for your friends with a Platinum University-specific Card.

That’s pretty much all the tips I had off the top of my head. Any others from the readers?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.