Money isn’t everything, but not having it sure can but a dent in everything. In college, your money is thin and the things you can spend it on- trips, food and drinks- are everywhere. So with that in mind, here are five ways to stretch your money further.

 

1. Plan Ahead

Know yourself; if you know you’re going to be hungry later, get some mac and cheese in the house, or make sure you even have a frozen pizza or yogurt on-hand. It may cost a little money but it’s cheaper than late-night delivery. Similarly, do the mature thing and stock up on tons of alcohol. A fifth of vodka (750 ml) can cost $15 while a full handle (1.75 liters) costs $20 at my local store. For five dollars more you get more than double the alcohol of the same brand. Buying in bulk is nothing new, but planning ahead can be: if you, for example, find yourself short of that alcohol in a pinch you may have to drink more at your local bar. A $3 beer, while in no way exorbitant, is six times as expensive as the equivalent alcohol content of a shot of vodka from your own handle. Six times. Think about that the next time you talk about the amazing $5 mixed-drink specials at your local dive. By simply planning ahead you can cut down on the costs of the moment.

 

2. Don’t Skimp

The $30 dollar pants are cheaper than the $50 pants, sure, but not if they’re vastly inferior. Your local burrito place is cheap, sure, but the physical costs of eating nothing but beans and rice for weeks can cost much more than the dollar amount itself. Trying to cut corners is natural and smart, but if you’re trying to cheat the system too hard be aware you might be cheating yourself in the process. Don’t do that.

 

3. Prioritize

Do you really want to see that new movie, or are you going to be dragged there by your friends? Consider that $10 can be tons of different things. Ask yourself what gives you the most happiness from it. Is it the most alcohol it can buy, or is it the experience of getting two nice beers at a bar? Is it better to spend $50 to go to a Red Sox game or would you rather have a Red Sox hat and two months of Netflix? Big purchases have their place, but often you’ll find yourself happier if you consider your money for what it is: flexible.

 

4. Avoid Wallet-Bleeding

Do you smoke cigarettes? That’s your personal choice, but be aware how those dollar bills add up. You’re smoking money. Do you cook? Good. And when you eat out? Also good. But you’re eating your money at a much quicker clip. If you have a habit of any sort, ask yourself if that money is going to the proper places. If you’re complaining about money issues while drinking micro-brewed beer, that may be your problem right there.

 

5. Innovate

Do you need a room-mate? If you can have one, then you might be able to cut your rent lower than if you tried to live without them. Do you not cook? Maybe your friend does, and if you do the shopping and cleaning, they’ll handle the cooking. That would save you a bunch on ordering out costs. Do you want cheaper food? Consider trying out a food co-op. Whatever it is, think outside the box if you want better answers.