How To Avoid Going Broke In College: The Little Things

By Amanda Byk, Ball State University

One thing I like about having a job while in college is that I have money of my own to spend. For those who don’t have a job, a limited supply of money and a few bucks from the ‘rents is enough for the little things we like to enjoy. Though these things may be on sale or a treat every now and then, the money spent, no matter how little, adds up. An easier way to save money in college would be to watch what you spend it on. Here are a few things most students buy without realizing the effect it has on their wallets.

$5 Movies From Wal-Mart

These are dangerous to the movie lovers and bargain hunters. 5 dollars for a movie is a great deal that I can never seem to pass up. Many college students enjoy movie nights with the roomie or maybe even the dorm floor. This little bargain adds up when bought frequently. Depending on how much you go to Wal-Mart, you may have a greater chance of getting sucked in to the great deal of a classic movie.


Many students go for that 8am coffee at the closest Starbucks to stay awake long enough to understand what the professor is talking about. After class, a second cup may be needed just to finish that homework assignment due by this afternoon. Most 8am classes are either two or three times a week. Imagine how much coffee that is and how much is spent on it. Last time I checked, Starbucks wasn’t that cheap. Coffee is good and helpful, but you can easily buy good coffee at a cheaper price and maybe even learn to drink less of it.

Small Companions

When walking past that fish section in the store, you think, why not? All I have to do is feed it, right? Wrong. You spend money on the tank, the decorations for the tank, the gravel, the food, more food, and maybe even another fish to keep the one you have company. You see the $2 price tag on a very colorful fish and decide to buy it. That fish just may need a heater for the tank as well as a filter system, which will raise the cost of owning a fish that only costs $2. Having a fish can cost up to $80. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.


We all go to the store for school supplies that we ran out of. Cute sticky notes, neon highlighters, and that Avengers notebook we’ve been eyeing. Students tend to come back with more than they intended to buy because there was a good deal, or there was an item we convinced ourselves we needed. I know most times I leave to buy a small pack of sticky notes, I come back with the sticky notes, a new notebook, and some new markers for my dry-erase board. With every little trip comes a little bit of unneeded spending. Watch for the little things and you’ll be saving money for something more important.

Holiday Treats

I, personally, am a sucker for holiday decorations. I also know a lot of people on the dorm floor that decorate their rooms like crazy. The lights for Christmas, the plastic eggs for Easter, and the pumpkins for Halloween are definitely things we can save on. Make your own. Have a get together where you can all use things you have laying around to make decorations. Don’t make it a point to go to the store to look for new items to buy just for the one day. Holidays are great, but save your money to buy presents for others, and maybe even a little something for yourself. No need to extreme-decorate your room for the few people who are actually going to see it.

Next time you go out, think about what you’re spending your money on. It’s always nice to treat yourself, but if you still want money left over at the end of the month, remember to watch how you spend the money you do have. Do you really need that flower pen or that extra cup of Starbucks? Think about how you can save the most money, because you just might unexpectedly need it one day.