For many people, college signifies a level of independence, from the on-campus boarding to the less forgiving classes, and the looser schedules.
A significant mark of this new freedom occurs in the fiscal form. It’s easy to lose sight of one’s budget, but with a shrewd and reasonable mentality, being in the green is easier than most suspect.
One of the advantages of living on campus is the convenience of everything on campus. In a city like Atlanta, with public transportation, as well as the Stinger and Trolley services, nothing is too far away. This feature helps the student save on owning a car, which is a liability unto itself. With poorer mileage in the city, the parking problem both on campus and off, insurance and general maintenance, owning a car tends to have a considerable amount of disadvantages.
A great alternative to owning a car is the Zipcar service. With plenty of access in Atlanta, the Zipcar service is a very affordable rental service with a fleet of vehicles for most situations—heavy transportation, gas efficiency, and even a fun ride, like their signature Mini Cooper.
Another convenience of living in Atlanta is the proximity of all necessities. With a Publix within a block of Tech Square, and Atlantic Station no more than a thirty minute walk, being self-sufficient is easier than in many other colleges that reside in more spread out locations.
Self-sufficiency can be a difficult accomplishment. Cooking, laundry and cleaning are difficult everyday chores that distract from valuable academic and extracurricular life, not to mention social. Though the meal plan can make life much easier in terms of work, the cost of a eating at the dining halls is considerable. Most freshmen won’t have to worry, though, because of the Freshman Experience mandate of purchasing a meal plan.
When it comes to classes, things are expensive. Aside from packets and notes, class materials, including textbooks, can be very costly. The cost of computing, especially since a laptop is now required throughout the Institute, is a major concern. The best solution is to get a laptop that may not have all the unnecessary features—like Blu-Ray players, 17-inch screens or fingerprint scanners—but to include powerful technology, such as more RAM and a discrete graphics card that will stand the test of time.
A warranty is always a great way to replace a “broken” laptop in the future, right before the warranty expires obviously. One sound investment into something that will cost at least a thousand dollars is better than two purchases at a cost of a couple hundred less, assuming both last the same time.
Another way to save on school supplies is to recycle old supplies by foraging for things like paper, pencils and pens. Look for things at home and buy things used. Savings in books can amount to a couple hundred dollars, or even more, depending on the amount of required textbooks. Even though used is much cheaper, it’s still expensive overall. If the book must be bought, purchasing from a hallmate, student or any acquaintance can guarantee more options. It’s also extremely advisable to wait and see if the book is actually needed in the class, but waiting will most certainly warrant the forfeiture of a used book in the store.
The last way to save money is to generally keep track of one’s finances. Pretending you have a lot of money when you’ve already spent it on restaurants and movies will drain funds. By spending frugally, being a budget-conscious, relatively wealthy freshman is more than manageable.