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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Make poor friends

This may be your first week at college or university; chances are, you don’t know a lot of people at your new school, or if you live at home, you are bound to meet new people as well.  Regardless, you will no doubt make new friends during your post-secondary career.  Can these friends help you stay on budget? You bet!

Making friends with the ‘rich and famous’ from your education institution may seem like fun at first; that is, until you are invited to go along on a shopping spree and you feel embarrassed not being able to buy anything, or worse, until you buy something extravagant and WAY over your budget.
However, friends who are on tight budget will keep you on budget better.  These can be students who are financially not well-off, as well as students whose parents are not contributing to their studies for a number of reasons (they do not approve of the choice of studies, etc.), students who had to travel far from home to study in their field, and frugal-minded students who simply do not wish to spend more money than needed.  There are also students whose habits are simply frugal, without them trying to be frugal; for example, a student who is very environmentally aware and therefore does not want to buy new items and would rather reuse.

What will a frugal friend do for you? he will show you cheap evening entertainment like an evening of watching a favorite TV show with friends and with a shared snack.  He will enjoy simple pleasures and show you to do the same.  He will give you an ideal to try to imitate in your daily spending.  He will trade secret recipes for lunch and where to get coupons for the rare evening out.  He will help you find the free food on campus (lectures, club events, etc.).  He may suggest sharing some items so you can avoid shopping. He will help you find a cheap ride to get home for holidays.  He will show you his favorite thrift shop and teach you how to replace a button on your shirt. He will tell you his latest deal or what is on sale at the grocery store.
What will a frugal friend not do? She will not ask you to go shopping as a form of entertainment.  She will not suggest expensive shows or events to attend. She will not make you envious of tropical destination during the winter break or reading week because she will either go home to enjoy a break or work to replenish funds.  She will not suggest getting a new dress for an event but lend you hers.  She will not suggest going out to eat often.  She will not look surprised or shocked when you say that your funds are low and that you need to watch your budget – she’s in the same boat.   

Having frugal friends help you staying on budget, just like having active friends help you stay in shape and having heavy drinking friends encourage you to drink more.  Basically, it will be a lot easier to stay on budget if your environment is frugal.  And how do you find frugal friends without asking everyone their bank balance? a few tips.
Frugal students are more likely to share rooms in residence (often shy students ask to be in a double room to force themselves to make friends; rooms of 3 or more are more likely to indicate frugality); frugal students are more likely to NOT wear brand name clothes; frugal students will go to the used bookstore before going to the new textbook section; and many frugal students live at home while at college and university.  It is no harder to start a conversation with a student who shows one of these clues than with one who shows up in a Porsche!

Enjoy your first few days of partying and classes.

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