Don’t be a fool!

John Hult

John Hult

So you think you’ve got it all figured out, eh? You’ve called your roommate and decided who will bring the refrigerator. You remembered the power strips and two alarm clocks.

You’ve got the fan for the Spring and the early Fall. The computer is set up with all your favorite video games and stolen MP3s.

You even took the advice in your orientation manual and bought one of those dorky shower tote-mabobs. You’re ready for freddy, right?

Well … maybe.

Even though the Resident Advisors and stellar SDSU citizens at the help desks of your future homes will provide you with lists stocked with the materials necessary to experience the Reader’s Digest condensed version of the collegiate lifestyle, there is more you need to know. A lot more.

Almost all of you reading this column are probably better prepared to deal with life on your own than I was five years ago when I first moved away from home to walk the halls of higher education.

For some reason or the other, I managed to BS my way through 18 carefree years without once taking that old “money doesn’t grow on trees” thing to heart.

I still don’t understand, actually.

We can map the human genome, but we can’t make a tree that grows money? Scientists are screwy.

The point is this: I spent a lot of money on a lot of junk that I didn’t need.

I also missed out on a few things because I was just too broke. You don’t want that, do you?

So allow me to play Mr. Yuk for a few minutes and give you some warnings about what not to do to save a few bucks in Collegeville.

The Phone Bill: A lot of students bring their cell phones to college, and it’s not a bad idea.

I brought one along, and it did the trick. I was able to call my friends at home, my parents (‘Please pay my bill!”) and just about anybody else who would answer (not many) for what seemed like a nominal fee.

The thing to remember about these modern marvels is that you sign on for a certain number of minutes. If the minutes run out, the bill soars like the national debt. Seems easy enough to remember, right?

Well, that depends.

For a student who makes a few calls home or a few calls on the road, it’s easy enough. Those leaving a significant other behind, however, sometimes let emotions decide how long the conversation goes.

Ditto on calling old friends. Just ask yourself, “Does the person on the other end of this line really need to know about the annoying guy in my 9 o’clock bio lab? Is it necessary to tell them the color of everything I had for dinner?”

Believe me-they can survive without the information.

One way to teach yourself responsible talk time habits is to use pre-paid phone cards or pre-paid cellular. This puts a time limit on your calls.

But it’s also a little life lesson wrapped in cellophane. It only takes a few trips to Bozied’s Amoco in the middle of the night for a new phone card to learn the value of time management.

Eating out: OK, so Aramark’s food won’t be stomping Cubby’s or the Ram Pub in a taste test anytime soon. But let’s face it: you’ve already paid for it.

Eating out all the time eats chunks out of your wallet. Sticking to your meal plan will help you keep more money in your pocket for fun stuff, like CDs, movies, trips to Sioux Falls or roman candle lasar tag.

Entertainment: Sure, you’re free now. You can go to the movies every night or rent as many videos or video games as you want.

But just remember, those same grinning goofballs who showed you around this place during the summer have put together a lot of entertainment options for you.

When your hall has a pool tournament or a reality TV-style ruckus planned, check it out. Most of the time, they’re not nearly as lame as you might imagine, and like Mr. T. says, you’ll save a buck or two.

Travel: Travel is one of the things frugal funds management can get you.

If you don’t spend your every cent on junk food, cell phone bills, clothing, video games or sugar-free breath strips, you can actually enjoy yourself on the occasional road trip.

Responsible spending can be the difference between another weekend at home and a weekend in Minneapolis for a big fat rock concert.

With a little responsibility and a lot of innovation, who knows? Maybe you can save enough the first semester to spend Spring Break in Cancun or New York or or London or Paris or … you get the picture.

Be smart, kiddies, and college will definitely be more fun.

John Hult is the Collegian’s managing editor.This summer he is domesticating wild hippies in Fort Collins, Colorado. He can be reached at [email protected].