College Connect Fall 2018: Roomies and Even Dining Can have Financial Pitfalls

By Sydney Olsen

College is a fun time in everyone’s life. You have true freedom for the first time in your ever. Don’t want to show up for class? That’s up to you. Want to stay up until 2 a.m. every night? Do it. However, with all of this new-found freedom comes a lot of responsibilities.

Responsibilities can be fun too as you start to feel like an adult, but sometimes it is difficult to anticipate everything you need to think about when planning for these. I learned this when deciding who to have as my roommate.

When searching for someone to live with I knew better than to ask my best friend from high school. I had heard too many horror stories about that. So, I decided to ask a sweet girl who was a mutual friend, who I did not know that well. She turned out to be a great roommate.  That being said, I did not consider our different financial situation. I was lucky because my parents allowed me to quit work for the last year of college to focus on school. My roommate was responsible for herself. She worked harder than anyone I knew to keep up. I took responsibility for paying the bills and allowed her to Venmo me for her half. However, there were several times she asked to pay me the following week because she did not have the money.

When thinking about who to live with in college, make sure you can either cover these late payments or live with someone within the same means as you. This will help you save money and avoid any late fees which can really add up. I would suggest making a budget with your roommate so the amount each of you owes is accounted for and can be easily tracked.

There are other ways fees can sneak up on you in college, even for things that are necessary. The cost of food in college is outrageous to say the least. According to a Money article written by Tara Garcia Mathewson, the average college charges about $4,300 for a 19 meal-per-week contract. That was in 2015, and as food prices have risen, the cost of eating at college has only gotten worse. Living in dorms without a kitchen can be difficult. I would suggest keeping a mini fridge, so you can keep grab and go items like granola bars or fruit. Try to limit the number of meals you buy for the dining hall. I often found when my friends lived on campus they were actually working to use all of the meals they had bought. Try to only buy what you really need plus a few more meals for convenience. Remember, you and your friends will go out for food more often than you think.

Every bit of money you are working to pay off after college counts, so even though it is not always fun to think about your future while in college, at least try to think about your financial future. The best thing you can do in school is just be aware of what you have. Budget, budget, budget. Keep track of what you are making just as much as what you spend. And yes, you do have to count those morning Starbucks coffees.

Sydney Olsen is a senior majoring in journalism at the University of Missouri.

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