At certain points in our lives, our financial situation can cause more aggravation and anxiety than we’d obviously prefer. Loss of a job or a reduction in hours, a large unanticipated expense (such as costly car repairs), or a sudden health issue can put us in a position that causes financial stress on top of the stress brought about by the situation itself. And of course, even if we’re not in dire straits, it’s wise to simply stretch our dollars where we can.

Though it’s not always possible to avoid the situations that can lay those heavy burdens on us, a bit of proactive planning can help us maintain control over what we do have. It can also prevent us from adding avoidable stress on top of that which comes as a result of those unavoidable life challenges.

In The Confident Student, 8th Edition, Carol C. Kanar offers wise advice that will help students manage their money, maintain responsibility over their own resources, and ultimately gain control over their spending (and perhaps other areas of their lives as well!).

1. Don’t use shopping as a form of entertainment.
2. Don’t buy on impulse. Think about purchases based on need rather than desire.
3. Carry cash with you, and leave credit cards at home. If you have to pay cash, you will be less tempted to buy things you don’t need.
4. Reduce energy costs by turning the heat down and the air conditioner up. Don’t leave lights burning in an empty room. Take quick showers, and don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth. Fill the bathtub only halfway. Use the energy-saving setting on appliances.
5. Cut food costs by eating in, clipping coupons, looking for bargains, and using leftovers.
6. Be creative in finding ways to make extra money. For example, offer to house-sit, babysit, or do odd jobs for pay.
7. Use public transportation, ride a bicycle, or walk wherever you can.
8. If you must drive, shop around for the lowest gas prices.
9. You probably have clothes that you don’t wear. Instead of letting them hang in the closet, offer to exchange them with someone of your size. Both of you will 
have the benefit of a “new” outfit without the cost.
10. For entertainment, search the college or local paper for free concerts, events, and local points of interest such as museums and parks. (p. 146)

By taking these relatively simple steps to reduce spending and handle money wisely, some financial stress may be alleviated — thereby freeing one’s mind to concentrate on other things… like studying for that test next week.

What creative ideas do you have for stretching a dollar while you’re in school? Share your ideas below.

Reference: Content adapted from Kanar, Carol C. 2013. The Confident Student, 8th Edition. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.