Thursday, October 8, 2009

Easy Ways For Students to Lose Money in College

By: Anthony Svetak

College is a good way to meet a slew of new and diverse people, get the degree that will further your career options and gain some independence from living on your own. College is also a great place to drain your life savings. Living at home is nice because it's all free, but when you head off to college, prepare your debit card for some friction because it's going to get used quite a bit. Everything costs money in college, from the dorms to the tuition and extra cheese on a pizza. Cutting back and learning to save can be dismal, but fortunately college is all about the experience. This is no time to start learning to save money, so use this as guide to understand the very best ways to lose money on the road to a college degree.

The easiest way to waste a few extra dollars is to avoid keeping track of the balance on your checking account and use your debit card often. Sure, overdraft fees will pile up and you will probably owe the bank a couple hundred dollars, but that's no problem! Luckily, your debit card will likely be accepted even if you don't have the actual funds in the bank. The bank is as helpful as anyone at helping you lose money, so just keep swiping and accumulating those fees. And for bonus points, simply toss out the bank statement you receive each month. Let your debit card be the only source of correspondence between you and your bank.

Another great way to slowly siphon money from your bank account is to drink it up. Everyone knows that college is the best place to pick up a drinking habit, so don't be left out of the fun. Hang out at bars and clubs where the alcohol is the most expensive and be sure to leave a decent tip for the bartender. If you have a taste for beer, become a connoisseur and get choosy. Pick the most pricey of the beer options and remember that expensive means quality. Even better if you prefer liquor, fancy cocktails cost quite a bit more. If you're cheap, you can get beer for a couple bucks, but it is near impossible to get a cosmopolitan for less than five dollars, so keep that in mind when ordering. If frat parties are more your cup of tea, or tequila, bring a twelve-pack of your own and offer to share for a couple of games of beer pong. Again remember, the more costly the beer, the better it will taste.

After you have successfully spent all your graduation money on booze, you will have to open your wallet for the academic costs of college. You will need to purchase the books necessary for each class you will be taking. At all costs, avoid the used books section. It is stocked with the lousy old left over books from last semester. They are probably written in, highlighted by previous students and at least $30 cheaper than the new books. If you are spending thousands of dollars to receive an elite education, you will need to spring for the newest books. You would not carry a ragged briefcase with a new suit or wear running shoes with a prom dress, so why study out of crummy old books when listening to your professor give a sparkling, and rather riveting lecture? At the end of the semester you will be pleased to have spent the extra money for such an extraordinary book that you will likely never crack open again. Finally, when the class ends, do not even think of selling your books back to the bookstore. Instead, put them on a bookcase in your room where they will look extremely prestigious next to your collection of magazines, bowls of half-eaten noodles and dirty socks.

It becomes even easier to lose money once you have begun your sophomore year in college. Most colleges only require freshmen to live on campus, after which point you are free to take up residence in any one of the many overpriced apartments and rental homes in the area. That being said, it is not enough just to rent out an apartment that costs more in a month than your parent's monthly mortgage payment, it is imperative that you live alone. If you choose not to live with any pesky roommates, you will be in charge of paying not only rent, but also electric, gas, water and anything else that isn't covered by the rent payment. Food is also your responsibility, which is great because there will not be anyone in the house to eat your leftover Chinese.

You will also be able to choose a decorating theme for the entire space without any argument from anyone but your landlord. When you receive those annoying bills in the mail, make sure you give them enough time sitting on your kitchen table to forget about them. Late fees will build up, but if you catch it before the power company turns of your electric everything will be okay. Finally, the key to losing excess amounts of money in an apartment is to waste as much energy as possible. Keep on the lights, take hour-long, extra hot showers and keep the thermostat at 80 degrees during the winter and you will be in debt in no time. Just imagine the smile you will have when you begin getting calls from a collection agency. Collection agencies are particularly friendly and their calls will make you feel like you are finally an adult.

When bills start piling up, the best thing you can do is get a credit card. Don't waste your time researching interest or annual rates. Go ahead and sign up for the credit card that shows up in your mailbox proclaiming that "You're Approved!" You can use that plastic godsend to pay off any outstanding debts and worry about paying the balance later. This is another time to casually forget about the bills that appear each month. If you're late you'll get to pay up to $50 extra in late fees which should go nicely with any other accumulating debts.

Another good way to rack up the traditional, American credit card debt is to go over your limit. Unfortunately, credit cards sometimes won't let you go over your limit as easily as debit cards. However, if you can trick your card into letting you spend an extra ten dollars, you'll also be lucky enough to spend at least an additional $25 in overage fees. Credit cards are important, so make sure you always carry it with you and use it as often as you can. Remember that credit cards give you credit that you can use when buying a car, a house or any other large investment. When you're looking for a loan, you want the bank to know that you know how to handle money.

Of course, the easiest way to lose money is to follow the above instructions, but also refrain from getting a job. College is about learning and you can't do that when you're spending all your extra time making money. It is easiest to rely on your relatives for the occasional check, money-stuffed birthday card or "tuition loan" to help you get by. Of course, as previously discussed, if there is something you need, simply use your credit or debit card and worry about the damage to your bank account later.

There are a million other ways to lose money when you are in college, so use your imagination and get creative. You will find easier and more exciting ways in a short time. After your four years are over, you could be having so much fun that you sign up for another two years of excessive spending. In any case, after strictly following this guide for a few months, you should have no problem making it your daily routine. Finally, if you should find yourself looking for a new way to lose money, try tossing $20 bills directly into the toilet and flushing them down.
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