Students explain strategies for affording expensive merchandise on a college budget

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Every semester, student loans and tuition bills add up, and students seek help with the cost for school.

Part-time jobs and work study can help with a few necessities and maybe even bills outside of school, but how do students manage to afford pricey name brand and designer items while on a college budget?

An informal survey conducted by the Spartan Newsroom showed that some students use money from saving, refunds from school, and the support of their parents to buy their expensive merchandise.

“I feel like, ‘Why not treat yourself?’” said education senior Kiana Jordan. “I don’t think there’s an issue with spending your refund from school on things you typically can’t afford if you take care of your business first and have money left over.”

Jordan said she thinks there’s a problem when students try to buy things they can’t afford, and their bills remain unpaid.

“Often times I see my peers carrying purses and even backpacks that I know cost more than $1,200,” said Western Michigan University pre-nursing junior Chelsea Reid. “I have a job and I work a good number of hours, but it’ll take a lot of saving to see me in something like that.”

Reid works at her residence hall’s cafeteria because it’s convenient and the hours are flexible enough for her to go to class and have time to study.

“If there’s something I feel like I want that’s on the pricier side, I really just set money aside, I don’t like to just splurge when I know I can’t afford it,” said Reid. “I feel like as a college student who even has time to think about designer, I’m too busy stressed out about these loans I will eventually have to pay back.”

In the informal Spartan Newsroom survey, about half of students said that they are able to save enough from working to buy their expensive merchandise. About a fourth said they used their refunds from school or were supported by their parents.

“I feel like college students don’t have money and it has to be hard trying to keep up with buying expensive things when you don’t even have groceries at home,” said Jessica Snider, a recent  University of Alabama public health graduate.

During Snider’s time as a student, she stayed on a tight budget.

On average each summer Snider was able to save about $2,000 working at her neighborhood ice cream bar in Pittsburgh. When she returned for school in the fall she only spent money on the necessities and things that would benefit her studies.

“I saved up over the summer, so I wouldn’t have to work during the school year and I could focus on classes,” Snider said.

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