College

Traveling Cheap While in College

Traveling cheap

Last week, my partner and I went on a very nice vacation to New York City. As normal as that sounds, it’s something I thought would be impossible only one year ago. After all, my parents weren’t about to pay for a vacation in The Big Apple if they weren’t going. However, there were a few little tricks I discovered which made vacationing on my meager, college tour guide income possible. Follow these five simple tips on traveling cheap and go places you thought you never could afford!

Tip 1: Avoid Hotels!

I initially balked at the idea of vacationing in New York simply because I thought a hotel would be too expensive. As it turns out, I was right. However, we didn’t stay in a hotel and really no college student living on a budget should ever stay in a hotel. Look around for a cheap Airbnb, or try staying at a hostel. After all, you’ll simply be sleeping there. It doesn’t need to be a five star Vegas suite to comfortably rest your eyes for a few nights.

Tip 2: Make sure the place you’re staying at has a kitchen and cook your meals.

I can’t say enough about how much cheaper this one mantra made our trip. Food in big cities is expensive, no matter how cheap you try to make it. If you get a cheap sandwich and a drink, that’s easily a good ten dollars. Multiply that by three meals over five days and you’ve got an uncomfortably high expense of $150 per person. Unfortunately, that estimate is also on the lower end for big cities. By giving up eating out for most meals and buying groceries instead, we spent about $50 on food for a full week.  Now that is traveling cheap! If you follow this advice your meals might not be the most glamorous (lunch was a bagel with peanut butter and an apple most days), but hey, you’re here to see the sights. You can get plenty of better, more affordable food back home.

Tip 3: Find out what’s free, and then do it.

Free concert? Add it to the list. Free museum hours? Mark them down also. Free street fair, street performances, or bar trivia without a cover charge? Mark all of them as to-dos. Just because something is free doesn’t mean it’ll disappoint. If you play your cards right, you can even weasel your way into some paid activities for free (or at least for cheap). For instance, The Met in New York only has a suggested admission price. Do I feel guilty about only paying ten dollars for two people? A little, but it’s hard to feel anything other than awe when you’re staring a 4,000 year old egyptian mummy in the face, especially when the experience didn’t break the bank.

Tip 4: Budget for your trip, then follow through with it.

Know how much you want to spend and stick to it. Before the trip, try to plan out all anticipated costs in advance. You’ll want to know what’s essential before you start splurging. For instance, if your ticket to see the sights is in the form of a $35 subway pass, you need that more than you need a street kebab. It’s not only essential and worth budgeting for, a subway pass also won’t give you food poisoning. Once you’ve planned out all your important and unavoidable expenses, you can take what’s left over and use it towards feeding your need for instant gratification. Keep in mind unexpected expenses are part of traveling, so be sure to save a little cash to cover unplanned travel needs.

Tip 5: Remember to Have fun

Budgeting is great and all, but your vacation is about having fun. If you get caught up trying to save every dollar possible while traveling cheap, you’re likely going to miss out. It’s important to give yourself some spending money so when an unexpected opportunity arises, you can get out there and have fun. If you can afford to cut loose, then why not splurge a little? After all, life can’t always be about scrimping and saving.

Traveling is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be outside of your reach. While most college students face a tight budget, proper planning and thrifty ideas can make traveling cheap possible. While the thread count of my Airbnb sheets might not have stood up to the expectations of some ritzy New York travelers, we shared the exact same view of the mummies inside the Met.

 

Questions to Ask if You’re Changing Majors

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The spring semester will be coming to a close sooner than we know it. As finals loom and end of term projects are assigned, many students will begin to wonder if they’re pursuing the wrong dream. If you’re finding your core classes totally useless or experiencing utter success in other subjects, you might be considering whether changing majors is worthwhile. You’re not alone! Upwards of 75% of undergraduates change their major at least once between the time of enrollment and graduation. Before you do anything official, here are some questions to consider before changing majors next fall.

Will I graduate on time?

This definitely varies between students. If you’re changing majors going into your senior year, then you’ll likely have to delay graduation.  If you’re a first or second year student, then chances are you’ll be fine. Should changing your major result in more years of undergraduate schooling, consider taking on a preferred subject as a minor. This compromise allows you to enroll in courses that interest you without the burden of completing as many credits. However, do not make any changes without scheduling an appointment with your advisor. They are your most important tool in deciding if changing majors is the best move.

Does my major have to reflect what I want to do in life?

No, not necessarily! Although some undergraduate professional programs are designed to prepare you for a certain career, i.e. engineering programs, most majors aren’t great predictors of what you’re going to do in life. In fact, studies show that only about 27% of college graduates are in a career directly related to their major. Therefore, your major doesn’t lock you into a certain career path. Regardless, earning a college degree is an investment in your future, so invest wisely.  

But what if I want a career in something totally different? Will employers consider me?

Again, so many graduates have jobs in fields unrelated to their majors. Acquiring experience in the field you want to work in, along with taking related classes, will give you a foot in the door. For example, if you’re an English literature major but aspire to be a business analyst, take classes related to analytics or even consider minoring in it. Additionally, internships are a great way to gain experience in your desired field. By interning, you’ll also interact with professionals who can later serve as excellent contacts for networking. Having experience in your desired career field and a professional network to leverage will create more opportunities than majoring in particular subject.  

Is it okay to change majors because my current one is too hard?

Yes! It’s not a shameful thing to change your major if you’re struggling in your current one. Our success is dependent on so many factors including our passions and general personalities. Just because we’re struggling with something doesn’t make us incompetent or a failure. Additionally, changing majors does not mean you’re giving up. It actually means quite the opposite. It means you’re smart enough to identify areas you excel and struggle in. You’re also brave enough to make a choice that will ultimately make you happier and more successful. Though it can be scary, change often brings opportunity.

What if my parents get mad?

We all have to understand that our parents simply want what they believe is best for us. They want to see us succeed, avoiding the struggles they faced and realizing opportunities they never had. However, parents don’t always know what’s best for us. When talking to your parents about your decision to change majors, tell them all of the reasons why you’re making the decision. Explain why these reasons will be ultimately beneficial. Be honest and be understanding, even if they’re angry. Change is scary for everyone. In the end, it’s your life and your happiness. You will be the one living it each day.

When deciding whether or not to change majors, consider some of the questions listed above and then decide the right course of action. First and foremost, before making any major (pun intended) decisions, consult your advisor and other people who are connected with that field of study. Email professors and other students to make sure you have a good understanding of what to expect. But don’t let it stress you out too much! You can always change it again. Good luck!

Five Ways to Make this Valentine’s Day “Memorable”

If you’re a young college student in a relationship, you’re probably feeling quite anxious about the impending doom or success of the upcoming day of love. Valentine’s day is a day dedicated to you and your lover. It’s also a day that if messed up, can take a toll on your relationship. Since everyone knows that college is basically a matchmaking service for us to find our future wives and husbands, Valentine’s day should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, many of us are plain broke. As a senior, I’ve witnessed all the tricks to a successful February 14th at a reduced cost. Here are some light-hearted ideas!

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1) Go on a riveting adventure!

Does dinner and a movie seem cliche? That’s because it is! This Valentine’s Day, opt for something more adventurous! An inexpensive idea might be to go hiking in areas that are notorious for bears and mountain lions. This ideas might seem dangerous and impractical, but that’s because it is! The plus side to the danger is the fear and anxiety. Studies show these emotions are thought to increase levels of attraction! Therefore, it’s only logical that the more scary the activity, the closer you two will feel.

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2) Make them a DIY gift

Nothing is more romantic than a gift made by the hands of your true love! Of course, anyone could make a boring card or a scrapbook. My suggestion: because you love them, dig a little deeper this Valentine’s Day! Try making a photo-book of the two of you! However, to make it special find photos of your significant other and their family. Then cut out and paste your face into them! It’s a perfect subtle way to tell them that you want to be a part of their family. It works every time, trust me!

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3) Let them know that you take this relationship seriously

Valentine’s Day is a day for romance. Also, it’s the perfect day to let your s/o know that you take your relationship seriously. Perhaps even to serious. The best way to portray this is to let them know that you want them forever. My suggestion is to get a gigantic tattoo of their name right above your heart. They’ll be speechless, I promise! Because like tattoos, young love lasts forever.

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4) Buy your S/O a cute pet!

Anybody and everybody loves cute pets! Unfortunately, most college apartments and dorms don’t allow dogs and cats. Luckily, they do allow even cuter animals. This Valentine’s day, buy your boo a worm or a cricket! These creatures are not only small and easy to maintain, but they’re also inexpensive. Most pet stores sell them near the snakes section at an alarmingly cheap price. This plan is nearly foolproof for winning over the heart of your Valentine!

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5) Make your love a special dinner

Who doesn’t love food? Food made by your true love is high ranking in terms of special. Unfortunately, either many of us don’t have a stove or have no clue how to cook. Luckily enough, regardless of your situation there is one recipe that we can all master: hard boiled eggs! If you have skills in the kitchen, great! You’re very special! If not, go to the nearest gas station as many sell hard boiled eggs at a low price. If you’re lucky, they’ll provide you with free delicacies such a ketchup, mustard, and salt! Your bae is going to #swoon.

Hopefully your Valentine’s day will be a smashing success! At the very least, I hope you’ve enjoyed a good laugh and feel less stressed as you think about ways to impress your young love.

How to Create a Relaxing College Room

Moving off campus often means getting a large and more private college room. You have the opportunity to really make it your own with unique decorations. Living in a room that is truly your own is not only can improve your mood, but also your health. Follow these few tips to achieve that perfect relaxing environment for your new college room!

1. Add Flowers

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According to a number of studies flowers can improve your health. Brighten up your room with flowers to boost your mood. Remembering to water them can be a hassle, but taking care of something alive can so you may want to opt for a plant like bamboo which requires minimal care.

2. Color Scheme

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Things that match are more appealing to the eye. Tie your room together using your favorite color scheme! Of course it won’t match perfectly but at least the room will look well put together. Accent colors are great if you want some pops of color but don’t want to overdo it.

3. Don’t Eat in Bed

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I know it may be tempting to munch on a snack while you ‘Netflix and chill’ but you shouldn’t. Your bed is for sleeping purposes only! Snacking in bed as well as doing your homework in bed is not healthy. Try to only relax in your bedroom and leave the food and homework for somewhere more appropriate, like the kitchen.

4. Add Lights

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Making sure you have sufficient lighting in your college room for all occasions is key. Nothing is worse than not being able to see something. That being said, lights can often be too bright and could be distracting. I suggest getting a lamp for your desk for homework, a light up mirror for your personal hygiene/makeup, a string lights for mood lighting and then one ceiling light.

5. Organize Everything

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School is stressful enough and coming home to a mess only adds fuel to the fire! Although it’s hard to keep up with staying organized and cleaning can take a while, it’s important to keep your college room clean. Take at least 15 minutes a week to clean your room. Feeling productive and seeing the finished product makes it all worth while!

I hope that these suggestions for creating a relaxing college room help you get started on yours! It’s important to have a place you love to come home to during this busy time in your life. Have some more inspiration for your fellow classmates? Drop us a comment below!

Tips to Manage Money in College

College is not only the period in your life when you really need to learn how to manage time, but it’s also the period when you learn to manage money. When you’re coming straight from life at home, where you don’t have to pay rent, utilities, or for supplies and food (thanks mom and dad) and are shoved into self-dependency, times could feel rough. If you’re living off the check grandpa sent you last week, a meal plan (for the lucky ones), and your last paycheck from your summer job at the ice cream stand, breathe!

With my Kardashian-like spending habits except scaled down to Chipotle and Forever 21, I normally found myself just pennies away from over drafting. Don’t be freshman me! If you’re trying to effectively save cash and manage money, check out these tips I put together for you. By Christmas break, you’ll be rolling in the dough, or at least not crying to mom on the phone that you can’t even afford a 7/11 coffee.

Sell Your Clothes

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Don’t lie to yourself, you’re never going to wear that sweater. And those clothes your mom got you for your birthday? The ones exactly the opposite of your style? Get rid of ‘em. Round up all of the clothes, shoes and accessories you don’t need and take them to your nearest thrift store or consignment store. Depending on the quality, brand and timeliness of what you’re selling, you could make a pretty good amount. Don’t have any good thrift stores or consignment stores near you? Sell them online or on your phone. Check out apps like Vinted and Poshmark which allow you to sell or even trade your things at a whatever price you want!

Save Your Change

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It seems pretty intuitive to pay the amount owed with as much change as possible. Who likes lugging pennies around? For instance, if you owe $1.50, it seems easier to just pay that exactly, if you have change, than to pay $2.00 and get $0.50 back. Well, I’m here to tell you differently. Start saving by paying the amount in whole dollar bills and keeping your change. $0.75 here, $0.44 there, you’ll have a whole piggy bank full in no time! Take it to your bank or a Coinstar machine. Therefore, when you’re running low on cash and you need a bottle of vod… chocolate milk for the weekend, you’ll be set!

Use Money Apps

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Due to some of us just swiping our credit cards and looking the other way, it’s easy to lose track of what you’re spending money on. Luckily, some people teamed up with some computer guys and created an app to make our lives a little easier. The app Mint is free to all. It allows you to connect your accounts to it, set budgets and then it tracks your spending. Other apps, like Acorns, help you learn how to invest your money. Sounds pretty grown up, no? In the end you’ll be more aware of your spending and learn better saving tactics. Yay!

Sell Your Books

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Finally, the end of the semester is coming to a close sooner than we think. Unless you need to keep them, textbooks can easily be sold. Depending on the condition, original price and edition, you can sell your no longer needed books. The price is pretty good, too. eCampus.com and Knetbooks.com both have really easy to understand buyback options for books. No excuses!

Most of all, I hope these tips help you manage money during college! I know they have helped me over the years. Did we miss anything? Drop us a comment below!

How to Deal with College Stress in 5 Minutes

How to Deal with College Stress in 5 Minutes

I wish someone had warned me how stressful college can be. No one tells you about all the bad parts of college, only the fun parts like tailgates. Especially that the stress level gets bigger and bigger each passing year. Between juggling school, work and attempting some type of social life, there is also extracurricular activities like clubs and sports.

I’ve had my fair share of meltdowns and panic attacks from all the stress and worrying about the stress will (I can guarantee) make it worse. Most of the time our stress is from thinking about what we need to do instead of actually doing it. I’m not saying that we don’t have a lot to do but instead of trying to avoid all the stress, sometimes its better to face it head on. To get me through these times, I follow these tips that can take only minutes to do, to help me survive this.

Just Breathe

Take a quick second to reevaluate yourself and just breathe. Everything can be overwhelming at times but in those moments, you need to take a step back. Sometimes we take on too much in college and take a moment to breathe can give you clarity on how to handle stress.

Eat a Snack

The act of eating something can decompress stress levels and boost energy levels overall. Sometimes when we are also feeling a little tired, the act of chewing can refresh our bodies and wake us up.

Listen to Music

I am a big music junkie, I need music for everything I do like the showering, driving in the car, and even during studying. Music provides to me what TV does for other people. It clears my mind and it makes a good background noise for when its too quiet without the distractions of TV images. Music is a great way to get lost and let your mind take a break when you need to.

Smell Something Soothing

I don’t personally do this but I have friends that will spray something or go smell something to calm their nerves. I don’t know if this fully helps but I figured I would add it in, what do you got to lose? The scent of something like citrus or vanilla calms your senses and allow aromatherapy to work. Maybe we need to stop and smell the roses sometime to remind us to relax.

Take a Walk

I hate exercising like everyone else (probably more than everyone else) but a quick walk or run can be just what you need to clear your mind. Taking a break from the stress, your body will feel energized again. I tend to take walks a lot around campus with friends to mostly vent about stress or to enjoy the view.

Laugh

It may seem silly but laughter can really be the best medicine. Laughing can boost your immune system and gives your mind break to think enjoy something other than all the work. Laughter can instantly makes my day better and makes my mood lighter and happier.

I truly believe the stress we face in college is the most stressful period in our lives. Hopefully these tips will help you or help someone else. Comment below and tell me how you deal with stress!

Easy Meals to Make in a Dorm

Dorming in college has its perks as well as set backs. Some dorm buildings only supply students with a microwave and fridge. Late night meals are difficult to make when you don’t have the proper appliances. Have no fear, for this post is here! These easy meals can be made in a microwave in any dorm room as long as you have the ingredients. They may not be the most healthy option, but they will for sure satisfy your hunger!

Easy Meals to Make in a Dorm

1. Omelette

If you’re anything like me, eggs are an essential part to my diet. Living in a dorm for two years I was severely deprived of having eggs. With this recipe, you can have eggs at any time!

2. Chocolate Cake

For those who have late-night chocolate cravings, this recipe is for you! Who would’ve thought making chocolate cake in a mug was possible?!

3. Spinach Ricotta Lasagna

One of the worst parts of being in college, for me, is being away from my mom’s cooking. Although this recipe can’t compare to the real thing, it’s a good substitute.

4. “Baked” Sweet Potato

My housemate last year used to do this all the time to save time, but it works perfectly for those who dorm. Making a potato is satisfying, but using an oven can take longer than you’re willing to wait. Try this way out.

5. Classic Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is the staple college food. Companies like Kraft and Velveeta make mac and cheese in a cup that you can microwave. However, those can taste fake and processed. Follow this recipe that uses real pasta and cheese to get a better tasting mac and cheese using a microwave.

Enjoy these easy meals until you move to an apartment or graduate and have your own oven! Happy microwaving!

5 Ways to Use Free Time in College

If you’re in college right now, you know that free time only comes around every so often. When you do find yourself with some free time, here are some useful ways you can spend it.

         1. Reorganize Your Notes/Notebooks

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Organizing your notes during your free time allows you to be more prepared for class and exams. During the semester, your notes can easily get disorganized due to a busy schedule. When you have free time, go through your notebook and organize your notes by chapters, titles and themes. This will help you find your notes when you need them and you can recall the information more quickly when it gets to the time when you go to class or take tests. You can use sticky notes to sort through your notes and more easily access your notes. Rearrange your notes in sections if your notes have been misplaced in the binders. When you are studying, use your notes as a guide to write more notes outside of class from the sections covered in class in the textbook and combine them with your notes from class. Also, highlight information covered in class or mark the sections as the professor discusses the information in class so that you don’t forget. Rewrite or type out your notes if your handwriting is messy. Annotate your books with notes in the margins in class and outside of class to write better research and perform better in class. These are helpful ways to do well in school.

2. Straighten/Organize Your Books

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By the middle of the semester, your room is probably cluttered with books and notes. Collect your books and reorganize them by subjects and research topics. When you have checked out books from the library for research papers and have numerous textbooks you need to strategize and find a way to reorganize your books. Stack them together based on subject topics and categories place them on your book shelf, in crates, under your lamp stand or under your desk. Try to keep your desk clean so that you can work without clutter distracting you from your studies.

3. Update Your Dorm Room Decorations

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When you need a break, take time and redecorate your room. You can add or replace pictures, posters, awards, door decorations, pillows, and other collegiate memorabilia. You can change out accessories to make your room have a completely different look. You can create new dorm room decorations if you want to make your room look creative and original. Adding different color contrasts can also make all the difference in creating or changing your room’s style.

4. Treat Yourself to the Salon

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When you need a break from class, take a trip to the salon and get your nails and hair done. You will relax and feel refreshed after getting your hair or nails done. If you have a busy schedule, spending time at the salon is a good way to relieve stress and help you feel your best. Guys, this is not limited to girls! You deserve some R & R at the salon as well. Girls appreciate a well-kept guy.

 5. Think of Party Themes

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Regardless of whether you are in a sorority, you can use your free time to think of party themes for your friends. Sororities typically host theme parties to make each event special by presenting different and exciting ideas. It doesn’t have to be a birthday, holiday or a particular season to host theme parties. Hosting parties can open up doors in your social life. It’s a great way to make new friends. People you invite to your party will likely put you down as an invite to their next get together! So give it a shot, throw an awesome themed party!

In college, free time is often rare. You should spend it however you like! Participating in productive activities can help you have peace of mind when you’re running around during the week. Hopefully you can use some of the above ideas to make the most of your free time this semester. Enjoy…

Safety Tips for College Students

Being in your dorm by dark isn’t always doable, but preparing yourself for safety can be. These are safety tips for college students on campus, whether you’re leaving your late class or a party, being prepared for anything can give you some peace of mind.

Use the Buddy System

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When you’re walking home from class or a party in the dark, it’s always best to have a good friend by your side. If something were to go wrong, at least there is someone with you and someone knows where you are. An extra pair of eyes to be on the lookout never hurts either!

Talk on Your Phone

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Talking on the phone is something that a lot of us are used to doing on a daily basis. If you’re coming home from somewhere on campus late at night and are starting to feel a little scared, call someone and talk to them while you’re walking. Not sure who to call? You could call home- they miss you! Or call a friend, I’m sure there’s something the two of you could talk about. Make sure you let whoever you called know exactly where you are located. This way someone would instantly know if something happened.

Know the Emergency Boxes

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There are emergency call boxes on every campus.  If you’re out and about, make sure you know where they are in case you need to get to one. These call boxes connect you directly to campus security.  You can contact the office and have them tell you where the boxes are if you don’t already know.

Carry Pepper Spray

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Many of us have heard of pepper spray, but have you ever actually used it? Pepper spray is very useful, especially in the fact that you don’t have to actually come in contact with an attacker when you use it. Educated yourself all about pepper spray and go pick some up to carry with you on campus. It can be found at most stores.

Learn Self Defense

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Using self defense requires you to react and fend off a possible attacker. Self defense classes are often offered at your near by gym. I’ve taken a basic one before and not only did I learn to defend myself, it was a great workout and I had a lot of fun! See if one of your friends wants to find a self defense class to take with you.

These are some safety tips to help you protect yourself on campus. Don’t worry that you college campus is unsafe.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

What safety tips work for you on your college campus? Share in the comments below!

Sticking to Your Guns

Setting a budget can seem like a daunting task especially when there are so many expenses to keep track of. When you’re a college student on a tight budget, there’s no point in making a budget because you’re already in debt anyway. Right? Not so much. Your finances aren’t completely a lost cause and shouldn’t be put to the back of your mind until graduation. Here are a few tips to set a budget and stick to it.

1. Prioritize
Knowing what is most important to you and your success is the best way to keep your mind focused on your budget. Keep your eye on the prize (graduation) and you will be much less tempted to blow through your tuition savings on that fancy jacket you’ve had your eye on.

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2. Avoid Temptation
When you know you are at the end of your budget rope, stay away from big sales and stores altogether. Odds are you will end up making impulse purchases with money that you really should have used for textbooks instead.

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3. Count every purchase
It’s tempting to count small purchases as freebies when it comes to your budget. A box of mints here, a nail polish there, and before you know it you’ve racked up quite a bill of small purchases that you didn’t account for in your budget.

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4. Ask yourself if you really need it
Even when we have the best intentions, a budget can be ruined with buying things that you just don’t need. Let’s say you need a paintbrush for your art class. You arrive at the art supply store and you see a fancy set that you’re pretty sure Picasso himself recommended. Purchasing such a luxury is a budget blowing move that you could try to justify, but deep down you know that you could have cut easily cut costs by only buying what you truly need.

What tricks do you use to stick to your budget? Let us know in the comments below!