College Connect: Learn to barter and be generous in college

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By Lauren Steffens, University of Missouri

Going to college is expensive, but there are the ways to save. I’ve found that every day there are a lot of discretionary expenses – where to go for lunch, how much to spend going out, buying clothing.

There are lots of ways to save.  For example, Halloween is a very big deal on my campus, and lots of others.  Over the years, I admit to buying a new costume. But even then, I try to save using coupons for an online costume site; and by selecting costumes on clearance.

Using creativity, I enhance the costume with stuff I already have.  I’ve also re-purposed previous costumes.  But my best tip is by being generous — I know that sounds weird, but stay with me on this!

I was in competitive dance in junior high and high school, so I have a closet full of costumes. Some no longer fit, and others I’d rather not wear for Halloween.   So I bring armloads to my sorority, and my sisters are able to create create costumes from my collection.

So, how does this help me save money?  That generosity helps me save money in the future through a dose of goodwill.  If I help my sisters save some money on Halloween, then they are more willing to help me out . For example, loaning me accessories for a formal, picking me up when I take my car for service, or springing for lunch when I’m short of cash.

It’s a casual barter to be sure, but you can’t always be the “cheap” one, who’s always borrowing clothes or snagging rides rather than spending one’s own money.

We all know people who are so frugal, that we think we’re being taken advantage of… and I don’t want to be that person!

Relationships are valuable, and I don’t want to be branded as a “mooch.”  I have to believe that reasonable generosity will pay off in the long run in building trusted relationships.

Lauren Steffens is a junior at the University of Missouri majoring in journalism and graphic design. She’s a member of Kappa Delta sorority.




















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