An Intro to Money-Saving Tips or How to Pinch Pennies
(The information below has been collected from a variety of sources and is provided as a courtesy. Any reference to external web sites, organizations, or other entities, and any views expressed, should not be construed as having been endorsed by Cardozo Law School, Yeshiva University or its employees.)
Below is a sampling of some simple ways to save money. Many of these ideas have come from your fellow students. Once you start thinking this way, you’ll undoubtedly come up with other techniques and uncover new resources. Please feel free to pass these along to email@example.com so that they can be added to the list.
You might find that this helps you better pay on time and avoid finance charges and a bad credit rating. (FYI – bad credit ratings can have a negative impact on your application for admission to the bar.) You’ll also save on expenses for stamps and envelopes.
For recreational reading, go to the Strand bookstore, not Barnes and Noble. Better yet, don’t forget about the public library; also swap books with friends and family!
Many credit card companies will provide year-end summaries of your spending, broken down by category. Then create a budget.
A budgeting worksheet can be found on Angel/Cardozo Community/Student Finance/Debt Management/Personal Budget. Once created, track how well you stick to it on a daily basis. (Weekly is possible, but a lot easier to mess up.) Be prepared to adjust it according to reality and try to anticipate occasional emergency expenses. Once you find something that is realistic, stick to it!
If you must use a foreign ATM, you can minimize fees by avoiding multiple trips, taking out larger sums each time, but you’ll need to resist spending it all. Only use ATMs located in banks to minimize the risk of identify theft.
Try googling “homemade cleaning products” to start. If using commercial supplies, try using less than the recommended amount. Manufacturers have an interest in selling you more product, so they frequently overestimate the amount that you will need.
Limit colors for your primary articles of clothing to a few colors and vary outfits with much less expensive accessories.
Computers and Electronics
Conservation of Resources
There are many sources of information on the web on conserving resources. (Instead of printing them out though, jot down only the relevant information the old-fashioned way or copy and paste only the information that you truly need into another document before printing.)
In addition, if you are buying something online, search for coupon codes to enter before check out. There are also daily deal websites (scoutmob.com, groupon.com, etc.) that offer discounts for services in big cities. However, avoid the temptation to purchase or use just because they are offering a good deal. Instead, be critical and only use this for things you were going to purchase whether there was a discount or not.
The credit report itself is enough to understand your personal credit situation and to help alert you to any possible identify theft issues. Once you have reviewed the reports from all three national credit reporting agencies, it is a good idea the next year to set up a reminder to check one of the agency’s reports every four months. This way you will be able to regularly monitor you credit report to address any problems or irregularities in the reports quickly.
For more information on credit and how it effects you financially, please visit the Wise Borrower section of the Access Group web site at, http://www.accessgroup.org/.
To avoid temptation, call the Credit Reporting Industry Pre-Screening Opt-Out hotline at 888-567-8688 or go online to www.optoutprescreen.com and remove your contact information from the lists for pre-approved credit card solicitations of four major credit bureaus.
Pay off your credit card balance in full each month to avoid finance charges and penalties which can be substantial. Also, note that for many cards, if you don’t pay the bill in full for one month, and then pay the amount on the bill in full for the next month, you will still incur finance charges unless you get the exact amount from the company at the time that you pay that is needed to avoid finance charges, so call and check.
Consider getting a card that offers cash back bonuses, but watch out for any extra yearly fees. (Discover card has often given students cash back bonuses on purchases.)
If you are on a very tight budget but have some cash, pay off and cancel all credit cards and use only a debit card.
If you are having serious financial problems with managing your credit card debt, you can contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at www.nfcc.org. Keep in mind that turning over your consumer debt to a debt management agency that negotiates on your behalf with your creditors will impact your overall credit. Carefully review all of your options before turning your debt over to a debt management agency.
ConsumerReports.org says that simple-weave, plain-color silk, or wool sweaters can be safely washed by hand in cold water.)
Check out the web for student discounts.
If you can’t afford it, cancel your cable subscription. You can survive without it.
Swap movies and music with friends.
If you live near a library that offers movies or music for free, skip the rentals.
Definitely skip the Starbucks and other such venues, especially the premium drinks. FYI – this was the tip most frequently suggested by Cardozo students. (Cardozo’s Office of Student Finance hands out an information packet that includes the fact that purchasing a latte 5 times per week costs you $2,340 for 3 years, and the real cost, if you used Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan funds with an 6.8% interest rate to pay for it, is $3,698!)
Be on guard for cumulative expenditures on snacks, or at least account for them in your budget. It’s very easy and much more economical to bring snacks with you, rather than spending money at the deli. It’s much less expensive to buy a whole piece of fruit (e.g. an apple) than prepared fruit salad from a salad bar.
Buy non-perishable items in large packages and bring small portions in reusable containers. The per-serving cost is usually less this way. One really simple example is nutrition bars. (And try a different brand; Slim-Fast, for example, is a good source of nutrition and less expensive than the more popular Power or Balance bars.) Healthy eating reinforces itself and can reduce impulse snacking.
Refill your water bottle throughout the day. (Don’t keep the bottle too long, though, without thoroughly washing it, since this may pose a health risk due to bacteria. Don’t share the drink with others for the same reason.)
If you dine out, try to find “early-bird specials”. Take advantage of the fact that you’re a student and don’t have to adhere to the work-world’s schedule. Have a snack at home or at school before you go out to dinner. Then you can just order an appetizer or two and save money while still enjoying an evening out.
The obvious one: cook at home rather than going out. If you hate to cook, consider buying some ingredients partially prepared (e.g. pre-cut vegetables, canned soup that you embellish, etc.) Generally, it will still be less expensive than going to a restaurant.
Cooking in bulk and freezing in portions is even more cost efficient.
Don’t stand on ceremony – instead of going out with friends or providing all of the food for a family gathering, have a pot luck meal and have everyone bring a dish or two. This is the perfect time in your life to do this – everyone knows that students struggle with money.
Gifts to Others
For family holidays, consider instituting a grab bag or secret-giver system, where everyone gives only one gift and everyone receives only one gift.
Spend as little money on gift wrap and cards as possible. This is a product that serves very little purpose, is immediately discarded, and wastes resources. Consider wrapping gifts with comics from the newspaper if you have them, plain tissue paper and inexpensive curly ribbon, a print-out of a picture from the internet, or paper with your drawing or design on it, etc. If you are going to purchase wrap anyway, consider buying it from a non-profit charity to which you would like to donate money.
Grants, Loans and Fellowships
- Office of Student Finance (keeps a listing of various outside scholarships for which Cardozo students are eligible to apply)
- Office of Career Services (fellowships and writing competitions with monetary awards)
- "How to Pay for Your Law Degree”, by Gail Ann Schlachter and R. David Weber, Reference Service Press, www.rspfunding.com (also available at the Office of Career Services)
- The Foundation Center located at 79 Fifth Ave. New York, NY, Tel: 212.620.4230, www.fdncenter.org. You can visit the center and use its materials for free (check their hours before you go); or pay a small fee to use the online searchable database. (FYI - The Center is a general resource, so there is little that is specifically geared towards law.)
- 125 West 14th Street (bet. 6th and 7th), New York, NY 10011
- Weekdays 5:30am – 11:00pm; Weekends 7:00am – 8:00pm
- Special pricing available for Cardozo students
- 22 East 14th Street, New York, NY 10003
- Open 24 hours a day Monday - Friday; Saturday & Sunday 7:00am – 7:00pm
- 308 8th Avenue (bet. 25th and 26th Street) New York, NY 10001
- Open Monday - Thursday 5:00am – 11:00pm; Friday 5:00am – 10:00pm; Saturday & Sunday 7:00am – 7:00pm
Visit http://www.nycgovparks.org/ and click the “Programs” tab for fitness centers and classes in Manhattan and the Boroughs
Google “low cost haircuts NY”.
Avoid brokers by checking www.craigslist.com, the Village Voice classifieds, and walking around and writing down phone numbers from posted signs.
Consider commuting from New Jersey along bus routes rather than train routes, the rents tend to be much cheaper.
Resisting impulse purchases is also environmentally beneficial. Reduce temptation from the influx of catalogues by removing yourself from mailing lists. You can call the company directly to remove yourself from a specific mailing list, or contact Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Services at www.dmachoice.org. (You should allow several months for the decrease in mailing to kick in.)
You can also contact your bank and credit card companies and make sure that your name is removed from any shared mailing lists.
Manicures and Pedicures
Periodically review your cell phone and/or land line local and long distance usage to see if the monthly fees are justified by your actual usage; if not, change plans. (If you are considering completely eliminating a landline, though, consider that cell phones may not work during a disaster, and cable phone service will not work without electricity.)
See if you can better manage your cash flow by adjusting the billing due dates on your bills. Many credit-card companies and service providers will allow you to change the due dates for your convenience.
Remember to send in any additional tips to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can update this list for other students!