ScottMarsh.com

Million Dollar Choices for College Students!

If you know what you are looking for click the link below to jump to that part of the page. By clicking on any of the categories of expenses below, you can learn how to save a portion of your costs. Click on one of the 12 categories of Million Dollar Choices shown below, and make your first Million Dollar Choice today. Remember, to qualify as a Million Dollar Choice, you must choose to invest the savings from your smart savings decision. For your convenience there is a button on the bottom right that will appear to scroll you back to the top of the page.

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation Options

When many students go off to college, they take the car they have been accustomed to using with them. While a car is certainly a very convenient transportation option, driving carries many costs for the self-sufficient student. The average cost of driving a vehicle actually is about 54 cents a mile according to a AAA study completed last year. Finding alternate transportation methods, such as walking, biking or riding the bus can really help a student save substantially. If an eighteen year old student were able to find ways to drive 3000 less miles in a year, this would save him/her $1620/year. If he/she invested the money saved, this could potentially be worth well over 1 million by retirement. Use the links below to see how you could save on transportation expenses.

  1. http://www.cleverdude.com/content/7-ways-to-save-money-on-college-transportation/ contains a good listing of seven ways to save on college transportation.
  2. http://www.udot.utah.gov/main/uconowner.gf?n=55126312117091464 This is a guide for bike commuters. Learn how to be safe and find a great route to your college campus.

Car Insurance

Auto insurance rates are generally the highest for people who are under the age of 25. As most college students are in this age range, the cost for auto insurance can indeed be very high. While college student rates are higher than those of the general public, many students, unfortunately, unknowingly pay more money for this coverage than necessary. Premiums for the same car and the same coverage can vary as much as 50% among various carriers. Utah Department of Insurance rate information collected showed that average premiums for a single, 20-year old male ranged from as low as $466 to as high as $2613 for a six month policy. The fact is that you may be paying way too much for your automobile insurance coverage. Assuming a 20 year old saved only half the amount between the lowest Utah rate of $466 and the highest rate of $2613, the decision to make this million dollar choice could be worth well over $3,300,000 by retirement. Explore the links below to determine how you can save a huge amount of money on your insurance coverage.

  1. Insurance Rate Information by State Use this great resource to find your state's insurance department rate information. This is the best, most objective, place to begin your comparison shopping
  2. http://www.naic.org/documents/consumer_guide_auto.pdf is a wonderful publication from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners that teaches you how to effectively shop for automobile insurance. Pay particular attention to the section that discusses the many potential discounts available. Ask your insurance agent about each of these discounts to see if you qualify.
  3. Insurance Rates Database A large part of your insurance costs stem from the vehicle you choose to purchase and drive. Use this handy database to compare the costs of the vehicle you drive with those costs of other vehicles. This database is intended to help individuals compare insurance rates for different vehicles. On the first tab, you can see the alphabetical listing (by make) of the 568 cars in the database. On sheet two, the results are sorted so they highlight those cars that have the best liability ratings (meaning individuals are charged lower rates on liability coverage). The third tab is sorted according to those cars that have the best collision and comprehensive rates. Tab four is sorted so it displays those vehicles that have the best VSD (a discount on medical/PIP for vehicle safety). Finally, tab 5 lists those cars that both had either a significantly or somewhere lower than average liability premium AND a significantly or somewhat lower collision/comprehensive premium. This database should help you in making wise auto insurance purchasing decisions.

Car Washes

Many college students use their cars as tools to impress those around them. Having a vehicle that looks perfect, unfortunately, can be quite expensive. The average cost for a basic auto detailing package is $58, according to Costhelper.com. The tab for getting your car detailed every month is $696 per year. Fortunately, you can learn to clean your car at home very inexpensively. If a 18 year old decided he/she was going to just wash his/her car at the apartment, let's conservatively assume that he/she could save half of the $58 per month (after all, he/she would have to purchase some supplies). This decision to save just $29 per month would be worth about $790,000 if he/she invested the savings for the rest of his/her life. Use the links to learn more about how to properly wash a car.

  1. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/news/2005/dos-and-donts-of-washing-your-car-1205/overview/ is a great, short video and article that teaches you what to buy to take care of your car at home. This provides some great tips that will allow you to do your detailing like a professional.
  2. http://www.ehow.com/how_1328_wash-car.html provides another great step-by-step description of how to wash your car by hand.
  3. http://www.ehow.com/video_2328293_wash-car.html provides a whole series of videos that show you how to do everything from washing your car’s interior mats to waxing the exterior.

Gasoline

For some college students, filling up the gas tank means they might have to go hungry. Over 20% of the cost of owning a vehicle stems from fuel costs. The average cost per mile for gasoline is 11.7 cents. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to help control fuel costs. See the tips we have provided below for improving the fuel efficiency of your current vehicle. Conservatively assuming that a 25 year-old person could save only 25% of the average cost per mile for gasoline, and they chose to invest the savings, this Million Dollar Decision could be worth over $400,000 to them at retirement.

  1. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/FEG/drive.shtml provides a great listing of tips from the US Department of Energy to help you improve the fuel economy of the vehicle you currently drive. Learn how doing simple things such as removing excess weight.
  2. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/gasprices/states/UT.shtml allows you to easily find the most inexpensive gasoline in your area.
  3. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm is a tool you should use when you are shopping for a car. This tool allows you to easily compare the fuel efficiency of various vehicles.
  4. http://www.billshrink.com/ is a neat tool that will help you save money on your gas bills.
  5. Student Tips for Shrinking your Gas Bills. Click here to view tips from real college students who have worked to reduce their gasoline expenses.


RENT/APARTMENT

Renting

After tuition, rent is probably the largest expense in the average college budget. The median national rental cost is $1324 over all metro areas. However, rental expenses are literally all over the map. An average rental costs only $936 in Phoenix, while the average rental in Washington DC is $1608. While college students generally can pay a lower cost by sharing an apartment with roommates, the average student still spends nearly $6000/year on rent. It may be that you can find cheaper rent without having to move far at all. Use the utilities below to understand the potential savings you could find. If an 18-year-old student were able to save just $100/month on rent (and continued saving this amount until retirement), this decision could be worth over 2.75 million dollars at retirement.

  1. http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/moving-cost-of-living-calculator.aspx is a great cost of living calculator that allows you to see how much rent you will likely pay in the city you move to for college. You can take this into account when deciding where to attend.
  2. http://www.rentometer.com/ This is a great site that allows you to compare your rent to the rent rates at other apartments in the area. Use it to see if you are paying too much.
  3. http://www.apartmentratings.com/ helps you find information about rental rates, rental reviews, average rental rates in an area and whether rents are going up or going down. It may be that you are paying the market rate from a few years ago even though average rates have decreased.
  4. Student Tips for Shrinking your Rent Bills. Click here to view tips from real college students who have worked to reduce their rent expenses.

Utilities

The average household spends over $2000/year on energy. Fortunately, there are many suggestions you can follow to reduce your energy consumption and expenditures. Additionally, if you live in an area with competitive power markets, you may be able to switch to another electricity provider and save money in that way. If a person were able to implement several simple suggestions, such as using programmable thermostats, they could save a large proportion of their energy costs each year. Assuming a 25 year old was able to save just 25% of his energy costs, this decision would be worth nearly $500,000 by the time he/she retired. Explore the links below and discover how you can make a Million Dollar Decision today.

  1. http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=popuptool.atHome is a neat, interactive tool that allows you to see how you can save energy in various parts of your home/apartment.
  2. http://www.extension.umn.edu/family/00035.pdf is a free resource that provides great tips that will allow renters to save on their utilities.
  3. http://www2.whitefence.com/order-now-wfi.html?mcId=5 allows you to see if your apartment is serviced by more than one electricity provider. You may be able to easily switch and save money.

Cell Phone

If you are like most college students, your cell phone is an extremely important part of your life. Unfortunately, you may be paying way too much for your service. What is worse, you are probably stuck in a two or three year contract. Many cell phone sales dealers get people to purchase minutes they have no need of. Unfortunately, to cancel a contract, you generally have had to pay a fee of up to $250.00. Fortunately, now, internet technology has made it possible to switch to a new cell phone plan affordably. You can get out of your high priced contract and get a good, basic plan for about $30/month. That is a savings of $20/month (probably more) versus the average cost. If a 20 year old switched from a $50/month plan to a $30/month plan, the $20/month savings, if invested, would mean the 20 year old would have $433,000 dollars at retirement.

  1. http://www.cellswapper.com/ was one Time's Best Sites of 2007. This site allows you to get out of the expensive contract you are stuck in without having to pay the early termination fee that usually accompanies the breaking of your cell phone contract.
  2. http://www.myrateplan.com/ is a great site that allows you to find the cheapest, best rate plan. They will pay your activation fee with most plans. After you get out of your high-priced contract, come here to get into a great, lower-priced contract.
  3. http://www.celltradeusa.com/ is another site that will help you to get out of your expensive cell-phone contract.
  4. http://www.billshrink.com/ This is an independent utility that will help you to find the perfect cell phone plan at the lowest cost.
  5. Google Voice allows you free calls and texts anywhere in the United States and low rates on international calls.

Home Phone

While many college students have completely gotten rid of their home phone, for those who use their home phone, the cost can really add up. Many college students spend huge amounts of money on long-distance telephone bills to talk with friends and family at home. New VOIP technology and the internet will allow individuals to avoid most of these types of expenses. There are numerous VOIP technology providers you can learn more about using the links below. Skype, one of the providers, costs only $2.95 and gives you unlimited calling to all cell phones and landlines in the US and Canada. A 20 year old who decided to use Skype service at a cost of $2.95 instead of paying the average amount of $500/year could have over $830,000 by the time he/she retired. Use the links to see how you can begin saving today.

  1. http://www.voipnow.org/2007/04/want_free_voip_.html this site provides a listing of the ten most frequently used VOIP phone systems. It provides free trials and discounts for many of them, allowing you to try them without any risk.
  2. http://www.skype.com/allfeatures/subscriptions/?region=uscanada&ver=d#mexicanSubscriptionTab is the site that is referenced in the paragraph above. You will see that you can sign up and make calls to over 40 countries for only $12.95/month.
  3. http://www.fcc.gov/voip/ provides a great information resource from the Federal Communications Commission that will help you learn more about VOIP phones.
  4. Google Voice allows you free calls and texts anywhere in the United States and low rates on international calls.

Internet Access

The internet is an extremely important part of most college students' lives. The average cost of internet access is $32.42/month. Many customers end up paying much more for service. Most people end up being sold on internet services and add-ons that they really don’t need. A basic, high-speed connection from Quest will only cost a person $14.99. For those who don't need high-speed internet, free internet resources are available. If a twenty year old decided to switch to a basic, high-speed package from his/her average priced internet, the savings could be worth over $375,000 at retirement. If he/she decided to use one of the free internet services, this decision could be worth over $700,000 at retirement. Many colleges offer free internet resources as an included benefit to students. You should explore the resources available at your school. If you are interested in free internet access, explore the links below.

  1. http://www.all-free-isp.com/ is a great resource that allows you to search for free and low cost internet service in your area.
  2. http://www2.whitefence.com/order-now-wfi.html?mcId=8 is a site that allows you to shop for cheap, high-speed internet service in your area.
  3. https://fiber.google.com/about2/ is a site that will allow you to check and see if you are eligble for Google Fiber. Google Fiber is an internet service that is either free for several years after paying the installation fee of about $30 or receive a rather low rate for very fast internet.

Magazine Subscription

Many college students like to subscribe to a few, favorite magazines. If you are paying the cover price for any magazine subscriptions, it is likely you are paying too much. Research has shown that magazine companies don't expect to successfully charge the cover price. This price is used to help psychologically create the perception that the magazine is a truly valuable resource. A recent Media Life Magazine study uncovered that, in one category of magazines, the savings on all magazines in the category ranged from 35% to 77% off of the cover price. If a 20 year old, who subscribed to 3 magazines with a cover price of 3.50/magazine decided to investigate the possibility of saving just 50% of the cover price for each of these magazines and invested the savings, this decision could be worth over $110,000 at retirement.

  1. http://freebies.about.com/od/magazinesubs/Free_Magazine_Subscriptions.htm allows you to get completely free subscriptions to a wide range of magazines. Go see if any of the magazines you are currently paying for are available here for free.
  2. http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/02/14/save-money-with-a-magazine-exchange/ explains how to successfully set up a magazine exchange with neighbors and friends. This is a great way to save and better get to know the people around you.
  3. http://www.magazines.com/ is a great sites that allow you to search for the best discounts on magazine subscriptions.
  4. http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/deals/magazines-for-less-18354/ provides a listing of lots of great places you can purchase discount subscriptions.


TEXTBOOKS

Student Strategies

The average student spends nearly $800/year on books. While shopping at the campus bookstore may be the most convenient way to purchase your books, it is definitely not the most inexpensive. By following the tips below, we believe the average student could save about half of what he/she currently spends on textbooks. If an eighteen year old began to save an extra $400/year right away and began saving until retirement, this savings would be worth well over $900,000. Click on the links below to learn how to begin saving today.

  1. Student Tips for Shrinking your Textbook Bills. Click here to view tips from real college students who have worked to reduce their Textbook expenses.
  2. http://www.ehow.com/how_4667192_buy-cheap-college-books.html This is a great resource that explains how a student can save a lot of money by purchasing used books online.
  3. http://www.educatednation.com/2007/01/18/best-college-textbook-sites/ is a good site that contains a listing of sites where you can buy inexpensive textbooks online for less.
  4. http://www.youngmoney.com/lifestyles/campus_life/Find_free_textbooks?page=0 is a great site that explains how to get your textbooks for free.


FOOD

Menu Planning/Groceries

The average American spends $160/month per person. For a college student on a limited budget, that can represent a large percentage of the monthly budget. Research has consistently shown that, through appropriate planning, we can save about 50% of the amount we spend on food. To be conservative, we will assume that a person saves only 25% of the amount they have been spending on food. If an 18 year old decided to implement the simple suggestions necessary to save 25% of his/her food bill, this decision could be worth over $1,000,000 by retirement. Start at these useful links to find some of the best, easiest strategies for reducing the amount you spend on food.

  1. http://www.zeer.com/ Most college students spend their life online. Have you ever prepared a shopping list and realized, once at the store, that you have forgotten that list? Zeer is an interesting site that allows you to create a customized shopping list that can be send via text message to your mobile phone. By sticking to your list, you can save a ton of money!
  2. http://www.aldimeals.com/ If you are lucky enough to have an Aldi in your part of the country, you can likely save a lot on groceries by shopping there. Even if you don't, by signing up for their free menu planning tool, you can save a lot by avoiding mid-week shopping trips.
  3. http://www.mygrocerydeals.com/ allows you to comparison shop the ads for most grocers in one convenient place. Find out which store has the items in your list for the most inexpensive price.
  4. http://www.studentrecipes.com/ Most college students are so tired by the end of the day that it is hard to even contemplate what to cook. Use this site to easily find recipes designed for students.

Eating Out

Many college students eat out to get a taste of the good life or because they feel they just don't have enough time to cook at home. Nevertheless, unfortunately eating out can be extremely expensive. Many college students spend more eating out than they do at home. Fortunately, there are many possible ways that a person can save on dining out. If an 18-year-old made cumulative decisions that allowed him/her to save half of the $100/month spent on eating out, this decision could be worth more than $1,300,000 at retirement. Click on the links below to see how you could begin to save on restaurant bills.

  1. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/AmericanFamily/story?id=1020055&page=1 provides a great article that explains how a person can save up to 94% off the price of eating out.
  2. http://www.restaurant.com/ allows a person to save a large percentage of the cost of eating out by purchasing discounted gift certificates.
  3. http://copycat.cdkitchen.com/ if the restaurant experience is not really that important to you, but you just love the taste of the food, you will love this website. Learn how to inexpensively make the food you buy at restaurants for a fraction of the cost.

Vending Machine Snacks

The average vending machine snack costs $1. It can be so convenient to just grab a quick snack between classes. If a person purchases a snack every day between classes (Monday-Friday), they would pay $260.00/year on vending machine snacks. Research has shown that it is relatively easy to save the cost of these expenditures. Professor Marsh did his own study comparing the cost of 7-11 (comparable to vending machine mark-ups) with purchasing snack items in bulk at Costco. The mark-ups were as high as 215%. If an 18-year-old could save just half of the $260.00/year he/she was spending on vending snacks, this could be worth nearly $300,000 at retirement. Use the links below to learn more about this savings possibility.

  1. Vending Machine Snacks vs. Costco Snacks Click here to see a portion of the study Professor Marsh did comparing the prices of snacks at Costco versus those purchased in convenience stores. See how easy it is to save and still enjoy the great snacks you enjoy so much.
  2. http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/103379/Top-10-Money-Drains Spending money on vending machines was listed as one of Bankrate’s top 10 money drains. See what they said about this spending category right here.


INSURANCE

Renter's Insurance

It is a really good idea to carry renter's insurance while you are a college student. While your landlord probably has insurance that will cover the apartment, this insurance will not cover your personal items in the apartment. Different renter's insurance policies vary in cost dramatically. If an 18-year-old could save only $12/month on this type of insurance, this decision could be worth over $325,000 at retirement. Use the links below to see how you can save on this type of coverage.

  1. http://www.apartmentreviews.net/save-renters-insurance.htm provides 10 easy tips that will allow you to lower the amount you are paying for renters insurance.
  2. http://personalinsure.about.com/od/renters/a/aa021107a.htm- This is another article that provides some good tips for how to get discounts on your rental insurance policy.
  3. http://www.whitefence.com/whitefence-savings/tip/58 provides a good tool allowing you to comparison shop for renter's insurance.


DEBT/CREDIT MANAGEMENT

Interest Charges on Credit Card

The average amount of credit card debt for a student is $2,700.00, but many students have even higher debt. The average interest rate on a standard card is about 13%, but many students pay much higher rates due to their short credit history. Making the minimum payment each month on a $4,600 card debt, it would take 250 months (almost 21 years) to pay off the debt and cost $4,868 in interest. If a 20 year old was able to instead find a card with only a 7% interest rate, he or she could instead be completely out of debt in less than 10 years. If he/she then chose to invest the savings until retirement, this could be worth nearly $500,000. Explore the links below to see how you could save on credit cards.

  1. http://www.indexcreditcards.com/ is another good index of credit cards by type. Start your search here. Newsweek magazine called this, "As comprehensive a list as you'll find of all the credit card offers on the table now."
  2. http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/shop/default.htm Credit card terms can be complicated. This great publication from the Federal Reserve breaks things down and makes them very understandable.
  3. http://www.powerpay.org/ is an awesome site that provides information on how to get out of debt quickly following an accelerated debt reduction plan.

Student Loans

With the cost of tuition rapidly rising, students are taking out more and more debt to fund their education. The average debt at a four year institution is a stunning $22,500, with some students borrowing much, much more. Research has shown that much of a student's money is being spent on unnecessary items, not just on tuition. By reducing borrowing on student loans, a student can save a substantial amount of money in the long run. Many of the recommendations that will allow a student to take out less student debt are found in other parts of this website. Nonetheless, for those students who must take out debt, not all lenders are created equal. By exploring the below resources, students can reduce their student debt and make a million dollar choice. If a student is able to reduce their debt enough to reduce their after-college monthly payments by just $100 dollars, this decision could be worth over $1.6 million dollars by retirement.

  1. http://www.students.gov/STUGOVWebApp/Public?topicID=20&operation=topic provides information on a slew of great educational resources available from the government. See what resources are available to students that will help them reduce their student debt.
  2. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre43.shtm explains how a person can avoid deceptive student loans. Read this to make sure you don't get scammed in the process of applying for student loans.
  3. http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/DirectLoan/calc.html Use this calculator to see if consolidating student loans at a lower rate would be a good deal for you.
  4. http://www.bankrate.com/student-loans.aspx Use this tool to find the finest interest rates for student loans.

FICO Score Management

Many people have never even heard of their FICO score, but your FICO score is important for your financial success. These scores determine, among many things, whether or not you will be extended credit and what rates you will be charged, whether you will be extended many types of insurance coverage and what your premiums will be, whether or not an employer will employ you, and whether your will be allowed to rent a home. Learning to manage this score properly can save you a lot of money. For example, for a 25 year old with a 30 year mortgage, the difference between a credit score in the range of 620-670 and one with a score in the range of 720-850 would be $340 per month. By investing this savings, the 25 year old with the higher score would potentially have over $4,000,000 by retirement. Use the links below to see how much you could save.

  1. http://www.myfico.com/myfico/creditcentral/LoanRates.asp is a neat calculator from the creators of the FICO score that effectively shows how much money you can save by having a better FICO score.
  2. http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/money/creditscores/your.htm is a government publication explaining how important credit scores actually are.
  3. http://www.myfico.com/Downloads/Files/MyFICO_UYFS_Booklet.pdf is a great booklet that helps you understand how to increase your credit score through time. This is a great article.
  4. http://www.creditkarma.com/ This site allows you to get your credit score for free. It is the only service of its type on the internet. Monitor your credit score from here regularly. It is a neat resource.


ENTERTAINMENT

Movie Entertainment

The average price of a movie ticket in 2008 was $7.18/ticket. Going out to movies each week with friends can get very expensive in a hurry. 1.363 billion movie tickets were sold last year in the US. This means that the average American went to the movies about 5 times during the course of the year. College students generally go to movies much more frequently than the general public. This area of the budget is one where a person can save a substantial amount of money, without having to sacrifice the fun of watching video entertainment. If an 18 year old who goes to movies weekly decided to do things that would reduce his/her expenses by 50%, this decision could be worth nearly $500,000 by retirement. Explore the links below to see how you could save a substantial amount on video entertainment.

  1. http://www.redboxcodes.com/codes Redbox already provides a great deal with $1 video rentals. Use this website to find Redbox codes and get Redbox movies for free.
  2. http://www.savingadvice.com/articles/2008/04/10/102085_free-or-nearly-free-entertainment.html This blog contains free or nearly free entertainment ideas for every week of the year.
  3. http://www.hulu.com/ has a large collection of free movies that you can access without any charge right from your computer.
  4. http://websearch.about.com/od/freedownloads/qt/freemovies2.htm and http://www.cucirca.com/2007/02/21/13-places-to-watch-tv-online-for-free/ both provide free listings of places where you can watch TV and movies online for free.
  5. Student Tips for Shrinking your Entertainment Bills. Click here to view tips from real college students who have worked to reduce their entertainment expenses.

Cable Television

The average American cable bill was $58.44/month last year. Many college students, who often subscribe to many premium channels, end up paying more. Many students are likely paying too much for their cable. Many people are finding they can do without cable all together due to the proliferation of sites on the internet offering free entertainment content. If a 20 year old person was able to save half of his $58.44/month bill, this decision could be worth nearly $650,000 at retirement. Use the links below to save money on your cable television bill.

  1. http://www2.whitefence.com/order-now-wfi.html?mcId=7 allows you to conveniently comparison shop for cable television service. See how much you could save here.
  2. http://www.hulu.com/browse/alphabetical/tv gives you the ability to watch 100s of different television shows via the internet for free.
  3. http://websearch.about.com/od/freedownloads/qt/freemovies2.htm and http://www.cucirca.com/2007/02/21/13-places-to-watch-tv-online-for-free/ both provide free listings of places where you can watch TV and movies online for free.

Video Gaming

As a whole, today's college students have grown up playing video games. Over half of college students own a gaming system and college students spend $341 million per year on games. For students who are barely making ends meet, one would have to wonder if there were, perhaps, other ways students could play video games they would like. If an eighteen-year-old person could save $40 dollars per month (the cost of a new game), this decision could be worth over 1 million dollars at retirement. Search these resources and learn how you could save.

  1. http://www.swaptree.com/ Swaptree is a site where you can trade books, music, movies and video games that you don't want, for the books, CDs, DVDs, video games that you do want, for free. You only have to pay for postage. This is a great resource that will allow you to get rid of games you are sick of in exchange for new games to play.
  2. http://www.addictinggames.com/index.html if you like online games, this site was included among PC Magazines Top 100 sites and contains an impressive array of games you can play and have fun with.
  3. http://compactiongames.about.com/od/freegamesites/tp/freeGameSites.htm this site contains an impressive list of the top 13 online video gaming sites.

Music Purchases

College Students are one of the primary consumers of music, coughing up a whopping $474 million per year. The internet is increasingly making spending on music less and less necessary. If an 18-year-old student, who currently spends $30/month on music found a way to cut this expenditure in half, this decision would be worth over $400,000 at retirement. Click on the links below to beginning discovering how to save today.

  1. http://www.swaptree.com/ Swaptree is a site where you can trade books, music, movies and video games that you don't want, for the books, CDs, DVDs, video games that you do want, for free. You only have to pay for postage. This is a great resource that will allow you to get rid of games you are sick of in exchange for new games to play.
  2. http://www.imeem.com/ It is likely you can find your favorite music and play it on demand from Imeem. Why buy music when you can just listen to it for free online whenever you want?
  3. http://radiotime.com/index.aspx This site allows you to tune into radio stations across the country. Listen to your favorite station from back home.
  4. http://songza.com/ is a great site to use in order to find and listen to any music you want.
  5. Grove Shark, Spotify and Rdio allow you to listen to and create free music playlists.
  6. Pandora allows you create stations of genres, artists or even titles that interest you and it will play music similar to that style.


DATING

Inexpensive Date Ideas

Many students like to go on regular dates. Several of Professor Marsh's students did some informal polls and found out that many students spend well over $1000/semester going on dates. If an 18-year-old student were able to find low cost opportunities and save $500/semester on dates (and continued saving this amount throughout his/her life), this decision could be worth over 2.25 million dollars at retirement. Follow the links below to see how you could discover savings opportunities.

  1. http://www.thestreet.com/story/10359665/1/10-ways-to-reduce-child-care-costs.html is a great article that has some creative tips for saving money on dates.
  2. http://www.aupairinamerica.com/ is a great way to think of potential date ideas in your area.
  3. http://www.thestreet.com/story/10359665/1/10-ways-to-reduce-child-care-costs.html is a Google search for "Cheap college dates." There were 306,000 results.
  4. Student Tips for Shrinking your Dating Bills. Click here to view tips from real college students who have worked to reduce their dating expenses.

Inexpensive Eating Out

For many people, part of a typical date entails going out to eat. Unfortunately, eating out can be extremely on a college budget. Our informal research showed that many students spend more than $1000/year on dating. It is likely about half of that amount is spent on eating out. Fortunately, there are many possible ways that a person can save on dining out. If an 18 year old made cumulative decisions that allowed him/her to save half of the average $500/semester spent on eating out during dates, this decision could be worth more than $2,000,000 at retirement. Click on the links below to see how you could begin to save on restaurant bills.

  1. http://www.restaurant.com/ allows a person to save a large percentage of the cost of eating out by purchasing discounted gift certificates.
  2. http://www.citydeals.com/deals/control/main is a site that allows you to find great discounts at restaurants you love.
  3. http://copycat.cdkitchen.com/ if the restaurant experience is not really that important to you, but you just love the taste of the food, you will love this website. Learn how to inexpensively make the food you buy at restaurants for a fraction of the cost.


PERSONAL/DISCRETIONARY

Manicures

According to data from costhelper.com, manicures can cost anywhere from $10-$85. If you get a manicure every two weeks and pay the average price of about $30 per manicure, you could pay nearly $800 for manicures each year. As a college student, that money can be put to better use. You can, however, get a great manicure without having to pay nearly as much. If a 20 year old were able to save the cost of manicures over the course of her life, this decision would be worth nearly 1.5 million at retirement. Use the links below to see how much you could save.

  1. http://www.ehow.com/nail-art-and-care/ This series of free articles shows you how to give yourself a great manicure at home, saving you a huge amount of money each year.
  2. http://www.costhelper.com/cost/health/manicure-pedicure.html contains information on how you could save money by going to a smaller nail salon. The average cost of smaller salons is less than half of the average price for a manicure.

Haircuts

According to the Professional Beauty Association, the average cost of a haircut is about $45.00. This is a lot of money for most people, but it is particularly a lot of money for a college student. If you get a haircut every other month, this means you will spend $270.00/year on your hair cuts. If a 20 year old were able to save this expense, this would be worth nearly $500,000 at retirement. Use the tips below to figure out how you can save this expenditure.

  1. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/SaveMoney/HaircutsAndCarRepairsOnTheCheap.aspx?page=1 is a really good article on how to save money on everything from hair cuts to auto repairs.
  2. http://www.frugal-living-tips.com/frugal-beauty-haircuts.html is a great site with a lot of different tips on how to save money on haircuts.

Gym Memberships

Data from costhelper.com reports that the average gym membership usually costs about $40/month. College students are some of those individuals who are most likely to purchase a membership. Research has shown that most people don't use their gym passes regularly. If a 20 year old individual decided that he would use the tips in this section to save his gym pass expenses, this decision could be worth over $850,000 dollars at retirement.

  1. http://www.ehow.com/ Ehow.com has videos of numerous home workouts that can be completed very inexpensively. Just do a video search for Home Workout. There is even a video of how to get a workout using a Nintendo Wii. There are 1230 home exercise videos on the site.
  2. http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/ConsumerActionGuide/HowToQuitTheGymOrAnything.aspx?page=1 is a great article that will provide you with instructions for how to get out of your gym contract so you can start saving sooner.
  3. http://www.craigslist.com/ provides a place where you could easily sell your gym memberships early.

Travel

The average vacation cost, according to a 2008 AAA study, for two adults traveling together in the United States was $244/day, just for lodging and meals. If we assume that a single college student would spend just half of this amount per day, you can see how this could be quite expensive in a hurry. What if a 20 year old decided he would find ways to save a portion of his/her vacation costs. If he were able to save half of the cost of vacationing each year, this could ultimately be worth over $1.5 million to him/her. Explore the links below to learn how you can save on travel.

  1. http://www.kayak.com/ This is likely the best travel aggregator site available on the internet. Effortlessly look for the finest deals on flights, hotels and cars from a huge number of travel sites.
  2. http://www.statravel.com/ is a great travel site for a student that offers great discounts to those still in school.
  3. Air Fare Price Trending is part of Kayak website that uses data mining to see if air fares to the destination you are planning to visit are likely to rise or fall.


TUITION

Part-time Jobs

While research has shown that many students do better in school if they are working, many students have no choice but to work while they are in school. About 75% of students work and in fact earn nearly $700/month on average. Every dollar earned, as long as it is not spent on unnecessary items, is a dollar that could go toward tuition and necessary expenses, thereby lowering the amount of needed borrowing. Explore the links below to find some of the finest available work opportunities for those in college.

  1. Creatively Ingenious College Business. Click here to see ideas from hundreds of personal finance students for entrepreneurial and employment opportunities available.
  2. http://www.elance.com/, http://www.guru.com/, http://www.domystuff.com/ and http://www.rentacoder.com/ These are sites for those students who have expertise in areas such as graphic design, web design or computer programming. You can post your skills and work conveniently on a contract basis.
  3. http://www.getthatgig.com/index.html has a listing of neat internship opportunities. Internships are a great way to get paid and also get great experience.
  4. Part-time job tips from Students Click here to view tips from real college students who have worked to reduce their Textbook expenses.

Scholarships

If a student can get a scholarship to pay for a portion of educational costs, this is a great deal. Scholarships are not usually money you can spend, so receiving a scholarship can reduce your student loans on a dollar for dollar basis. Unfortunately, many students erroneously conclude that because they don't have a top GPA, they can't qualify for a scholarship. That is certainly not at all true. There are numerous scholarships out there which are awarded for a large number of reasons. Use these resources below to find those that you might qualify for.

  1. http://studentaid2.ed.gov/getmoney/scholarship/ This is a great, free scholarship search engine provided free of charge for your use by the government.
  2. http://www.students.gov/STUGOVWebApp/Public?topicID=17&operation=topic This is a great, free scholarship directory that provides access to a host of private scholarship applications.
  3. http://www1.fastweb.com/ is one of the great, free online scholarship resources available on the web.
  4. http://scholarshipproviders.org/Content/ContentDisplay.aspx?ContentID=8 is an organization of scholarship providers and provides a great place to look for additional scholarships.

Grants

The average cost of an education increases each and every year. The average cost of a private education in 2008-2009 was $25,143, and this number is increasing each year. This means more and more pople have to go deep into debt to pay for their college education. Fortunately, there are intelligent ways you can work to reduce the amount of debt you must take out. Explore the resources below to determine how much money you could potentially save through the use of grants.

  1. Student Tips for Shrinking your Student Debt. Click here to view tips from real college students who have worked to reduce their Textbook expenses.
  2. http://www.students.gov/STUGOVWebApp/Public?topicID=20&operation=topic provides information on a slew of great educational resources available from the government. Find information about government grants, work study and other types of aid that can reduce the cost of your education.
  3. http://www.students.gov/STUGOVWebApp/Public?topicID=18&operation=topic is one of the great, free online scholarship resources available on the web.


EXPENSE TRACKING

Where Are You Spending Your Money?

Research has shown that most high-net worth individuals become very good at understanding how and where their money is being spent. This understanding helps them to discover new ways in which they can save money. While the process to track expenses can be tedious, fortunately there are numerous tools that can substantially simplify the process. Explore some of our favorite tools below to learn how you can begin tracking your expenses and disco. While we can't estimate the potential value of the savings you might find, we do know it is virtually limitless.

  1. http://www.mint.com/ This site allows you to keep track of all your finances in one single place for free. We feel it is likely the best of the budgeting utilities out there on the internet.
  2. http://www.moneytrackin.com/ is another very functional utility.