One of the most influential factors that goes into considering options for furthering your education is finances. Along with printer ink and cell phone contracts, a college education seems to have one of the heftiest price tags. Of course, the case of education is most valuable, and should be seen as an investment. Unfortunately, the cost of tuition is largely out of our control, and is pretty much standard among private and public institutions, respectively. This means we must be extra careful in mitigating any expenses outside of tuition.

For myself personally, the most important aspect of dealing with money smartly is the mental presence of discerning needs from wants. Again, some expenditures will be out of your control—books as one example; however, the damage done by these cost can be held at a minimum with just a little planning. First off, always avoid purchasing material from your campus bookstore—everything is overpriced and can be found online for a fraction of the price. Secondly, I highly suggest renting textbooks, or buying them used. I found that at the end of my first semester, I ended being on the look for someone to buy my books off of me. Having bought my books from the campus book store, some new and some used, I ended making back the price of half of one of my books. In the case of buying used books and selling, you will rarely be able to price the book high enough to match the price of renting a book.

Outside of these unseen academic costs, you should try to relatively save as much as possible. This doesn’t mean to avoid eating out or going to see a movie with friends at all times; it just requires an extra awareness that you may not have needed before. At first, I felt extremely cheap and was worried that others would judge me for not allowing myself to indulge constantly, but I soon realized that just about everyone else was in the same place. Ask any student on a college campus what their favorite meal is, and they will respond, “A free one.”

All in all, just make sure that in the time leading up to your first semester, make sure to make it a habit to be more conscious of how you deal with money—every little bit helps!