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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Want vs. Need

Most of us have a huge list of ‘wants’ in our life: new clothing, new electronics, new music and books, new device, new decorating items, going out for dinner, attending a show, having an evening out with friends, etc.  These are all nice ‘extras’ that cost money and are not mandatory for life in college.
One way to trim your spending is to make a list of ‘needs’ for college/university life.  I’m not talking about making it so spartan that you are just sustaining life, but just enough that you manage to go to school, get decent grades (not buying any textbooks or notebooks WILL decrease your grades), and stay healthy.  If you START with that list and move up from there, instead of starting with your wants and trimming down, you will have a much easier time at keeping your spending to a minimum.  So here is a basic list (to which you may need to add a few things depending on your unique situation).
- housing (you can’t be homeless)
- basic furniture: a bed; containers for clothes and such (could be cardboard boxes)
- a fridge and basic cooking appliances (shared – you need to eat and keep food fresh)
- food
- general school supplies: most likely your own computer; textbooks, notebooks and pens;
- access to the internet (does not have to be where you sleep; could be at school only)
-  specialized school supplies for your program: a musical instrument; specific software; a stethoscope; a camera; art supplies; etc.  (you get the picture)
- clothing for the climate (could include rain gear in Vancouver; warm winter jacket and boots in Calgary)
- hygiene supplies (soap, access to a shower, deodorant, etc.)
- transportation to school
- tuition fees and other school fees.
Everything else is extras.  Yes, this is a VERY basic list, but with all of these, you can survive school and get good grades.  Some of these, like food and transportation to school, are regular expenses – the expense keeps coming back.  Some are one-time purchases, like clothing (surely you do not NEED to buy clothes every month) and most school supplies.
If you start here, and add a few things to make your life more enjoyable, your expenses should be trimmed to the minimum.  Choose a hobby that is low-cost: playing freebee in the park or star gazing.  Make social time cheap: go to a free event on campus. Borrow books from the city or school library.
Start with the bare minimum; it will help see what is really important.

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