One night this semester, I came home from the library with an armful of scholarly books to use as sources for my history research paper. I knocked on my housemate’s door, stunned.
“Did you know that you can actually check books out of the school library?” I asked. Call me stupid, but despite being a proud owner of a Bethlehem Area Public Library card, it had never occurred to me that the school library functioned as a normal library too.
It turns out, my neighbor, Sarah, had known this though. Since freshman year, she has been checking her textbooks out of the library for the whole semester, instead of buying them.
Now, I thought that I was crafty with my textbooks. From my very first semester, I decided that I would never buy a new textbook, if I could help it. Since then, I’ve been careful to rent my books used, if possible. Tufts also has a textbook exchange, so students who have books to sell can sell them to others for a discounted rate (a $120 book may fall to around $30). Still, my books always end up costing $100-$350 each semester, a high price to pay! Meanwhile, Sarah hasn’t spent a single dollar on textbooks in three and a half years.
That started me thinking about all of the other ways that I could probably save money, that I’ve never thought about. Personally, between paying for textbooks, dining out, taking Ubers, buying gifts for the holidays, etc., the money seems to filter out of my bank account at an alarming rate. A lot of these expenses are unavoidable if I want to have a social life, but that doesn’t mean that I need to be throwing away money. Here are my top tips to cut down:
1. Never Uber. Tufts students are lucky to have great access to public transportation. With the opening of the Tufts green line stop last week, we now have easy access to the red and green MBTA train lines. While the red line is a short walk away in Davis Square, students who don’t want to walk can take the Tufts shuttle to Davis for free. My friends and I took the red line and then walked to get to Snowport (featured above), instead of Ubering, and we had a great time.
2. Practice responsible gift-giving. Every time somebody has a birthday party, I always feel pressure to bring a gift. This semester, my friends and I started going in on gifts together, cutting costs dramatically, and wielding a better gift than I could singularly afford. In addition, my tap group does a secret snowflake (nondenominational secret Santa) gift exchange, allowing me to give one gift, as opposed to many.
3. Make your own food. I always knew that making your own food was cheaper, but this semester, it really showed. One time after a $20+ meal in Davis, I was able to use a CVS coupon to get myself a jar of tomato sauce and a box of pasta that lasted me five meals, for just $2. That’s not to say that you can never eat with friends, but you can always get creative and have a cooking night with friends. I made pasta with my friend, Naomi, every Tuesday this semester!
None of these changes greatly impact my social life in a negative way–in fact, they make it possible for me to go out without dropping $25 on an Uber, or to spend a nice meal with a friend without getting charged a 5% kitchen fee. If you’re like any young adult I know, keeping your finances in check is a constant struggle too, but my Emma’s advice for you today is to spend within reason. Don’t give up social opportunities because you can’t pay for them. Instead, work to figure out where you can save money in your life, so that when you do need to spend money with friends, you can!