College is a pretty stressful time — different from high school, but still hard to deal with. They're basically your first steps to living by yourself. From being tempted to order in every night and textbooks that cost way more than they should, college can also be a money blackhole.


If you don't have a vault of cash back home like the trust fund babies or rich international kids, you probably need to save up and find something else to do in your low cost housing like me. Here's some tips you can use to accommodate your low cash stash.

Stock up on snacks

When I'm getting those late night cravings, my first instinct is GrubHub. Seamless. UberEats. With instant food right at your fingertips, tapping can become frequent and dangerous to your piggy bank.

Instead, hoard snacks in your room from extra meal swipes or free food events. Since I always have meal swipes left over at the end of the year, I space out my snack runs throughout. Then, when you're feeling peckish when your dining hall isn't open — or when you're just too lazy — you have snacks on hand to squash that hunger.

Download textbooks

Now, it's not the most legal thing but textbooks can get pretty pricey and become a considerable amount of your tuition — I once had a textbook that was $500. If you look in your college Facebook pages or GroupMe's, there's bound to be a document listing out links to different PDF versions of textbooks.

If you're too caught up in your morals — hey, I get it — be sure to find used textbooks or rent them. Amazon has an amazing program where you rent textbooks for half of the cost or even lower and they give you a free return shipping label.

Utilize your university's free amenities

Giphy

Free yoga classes? Midnight breakfasts? Subway pass giveaways? Most universities will host numerous events giving out free food or swag to their students — especially in the first and last few weeks of classes.

In the welcome week of my freshman year, I managed to hoard free t-shirts, toiletries, iced tea, laundry bags and a bunch of other random stuff that I used throughout the year. I've also gone to stress relief breakfasts and free restaurant nights which saved me from having to fend for myself.

Find different, cheaper ways to hang out

Giphy

Do your friends go out every weekend? Is thirsty Thursday a tradition in your frat? Going out all the time can cut into your savings and deplete your cash quickly. Instead, find different ways of hanging out that don't require money.

Have a movie night or take a walk along a scenic route in your city or town. Get together in your dorm and put on some music. Bust out the twinkly lights and the leftover weed your Tinder date left in your room. If you absolutely need some libations, buy some cheap liquor from the store and mix it with some dining hall lemonade.

Go to class and study

Alright, I get that we all can't always get to that morning class, but skipping a lecture can amount to some very real circumstances. I had five classes that met about 120 times during one semester. My tuition — not including room and board — came out to about $23,000 per semester. That means every time I skipped class I was wasting about $191.

And if you fail a class? That just means you'll need to make it up for even more money. So, suck it up and get your butt out of bed because you're literally flushing money down the toilet every minute you waste.

Invest in a coffee maker

Giphy

Starbucks isn't going to hold on that college kid budget. Buy a cheap coffee maker at your local basics store and you're pretty much set. I, myself, use a French press but that's only because I think it's fun.

Brew your own coffee in the morning or at night if you're pressed for time. Heat it up or pour it over ice when you get up and you'll be golden, Ponyboy.

Now, these tips only come after you've cut all the costs in your full tuition. Be sure to find low cost housing, apply for scholarships and find the meal plan with the most bang for your buck. Going to college is a privilege that few can have.

PayPath
Follow Us on

The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

Whether you're leaving a job involuntarily, departing for something new, or just want to prepare for the unknown, it is smart to understand all your options regarding your 401k.

Keep reading Show less

diy gifts

Frugal gifting often gets a bad reputation. However, this shopping method does not make you cheap — it makes you practical. Frugal gifts often avoid waste and overspending and can be just as meaningful (if not more so) as any other present.

With the National Retail Federation predicting each consumer this holiday season to spend upwards of $1,000 on holiday gifts amidst an economic recession —this year might be the perfect time to reconsider your spending budget. We've formulated the ultimate list of frugal gift-giving ideas to get you started.

Keep reading Show less