2 years ago

Some of you are excited for a new life, some of you are happy to be back and some of you just want to get done with UTD already. And so begins the first day of school.

I’m not a very ritual-oriented person. I always seem to forget tax-free weekends, back-to-school sales and oh, wait, Cyber Monday. Amazon, being the master business narcissist that it is (really, Jeff Bezos praises Amazon in a Washington Post op-ed, they’re that credible), started its own Prime holiday which I also promptly forgot about, of course.

So, it was nice to step into a milling Dallas mall the Sunday before school started and check out some off-the-rack clothing.

Of course, you never feel happy coming out of a mall with two hours less to spend in a day and absolutely no shopping bags.

So there I was, mentally calculating my credit card statement, my bank balance and my rent payments in the middle of H&M, thinking how much harm can be caused by buying just a couple shirts? Behold the quintessential student.

In the five years I’ve spent at UTD as a doctoral student, there is one topic that all of us love to talk about in The Pub, at the bookstore, over Starbucks coffee: we are all undeniably, perennially broke. And we can all plan to change that this year.

It’s really not that hard. Mark Huffman, a former AP Radio Network reporter and a ConsumerAffairs writer says don’t use plastic when you have low self control.

It doesn’t matter if you’re starting out as a freshman or a ready-to-graduate senior this year, think of your job as the only source of income for you. Start out by thinking that you have no fall-back options for your living expenses, no friends or family to borrow from.

Using a debit card over a credit card helps while paying for food and groceries. Eating home-cooked meals or salads/soups can help ease your wallet stress by a ton. Surprisingly, eating healthy at home is cheap. Avoid high sodium, highly processed foods at the grocery store, cut down on your macaroons or chips, and voila! you’re saving $10 on each trip. Don’t cut down on proteins though, because while expensive, they are absolutely necessary (I’m not talking Aldi’s processed ham kind of protein here).

And when you eat at home five out of seven days, treat yourself to one or two restaurant meals and maybe a cocktail or two over the weekend. Budget for shopping and try to get your endorphin-rush from exercise (seriously ladies, it works!).

Every time you pull out your credit card, think about how much of your next paycheck will go into paying this additional expense. If the math itself isn’t a turnoff, the size of a diminishing bank balance definitely is.

Basically, try not to rack up more on that plastic than you physically have in a bank.

Otherwise, you’ll end up like Greece, forever wheeling and dealing for bailouts, going through three elections in three years and never having enough to spend. It doesn’t make for happy people.