DANNETTE WALLACE- THE CORSAIR
When you listen to news reports today it is clear that the United States is still feeling the effects of the recent economic recession. Students are not exempt from these aftershocks. A query about student savings with an internet search engine yields many results most of which are common sense. Saving can also be found in unexpected places for students who take the time to set goals, plan ahead, research options and budget their finances. Here are some useful money saving tips.
Academic pricing on software and computers
The technology industry is very generous to students. Most computer firms like Hewlett Packard and Dell offer student discounts and bundles. Software companies often have academic pricing which saves students up to 80 percent on popular software packages. For example, Microsoft offers a single license for its 2010 Office Professional Suite, which retails for $499.99, to students for just $79.99. These discounts can be found at the supplier websites or online at the campus bookstore.
Saving on Energy and Water Resources
Everyone must contend with the high cost of energy in Florida but Pensacola State College Professor Michael Johnston (pictured right) offers some excellent energy saving tips. He advises students looking for apartments to choose one on the ground floor to reduce cooling costs. This alone can save you about $60 a year on your energy bill.
Gulf Power offers power evaluations to customers to help them save energy as well as many different rate and billing plans. Many students are still paying premium rates but there are plans such as Residential Variable Rate Pricing which bases its prices on what time of day the energy is used. This can result in savings of up to 40 percent. There is also Budget Billing which averages the customer’s energy bills and guarantees a set amount every month. This is perfect for students who have not perfected the art of budgeting their finances.
Another high cost which Professor Johnston estimates accounts for about 20 percent of students’ energy bills is home lighting. He suggests replacing incandescent bulbs with comparable compact florescent light bulbs which are 40 percent more energy-efficient. Though there is an initial investment of about $15 – $20, depending on how many bulbs are needed, you save about $900 over the life of those bulbs. Just starting with the most commonly used rooms in your house can offer significant savings.
He suggests placing a plastic liter bottle, filled with water and a layer of pebbles, in the tank of the toilet. It displaces about ½ gallon of water so you waste less water. He advises, however, against putting a brick in the tank as it diffuses over time and can cause problems.
Wise use of banks and financial institutions
Students are offered a wide variety of accounts which are advertised as being “free” but they often come with stipulations. It is important to ask the right questions about monthly minimum requirements and transaction fees.
Jennifer Newman, Branch Manager for Sun Trust Bank said, “There are so many people who really do not know anything about keeping a register or how to save or budget their money. People fall short or get in trouble when going with all of the electronic routes and never actually sitting down and writing down everything that they do in a check register.”
She reiterates how important it is for students to talk to financial advisors and educate themselves about how to achieve their short-term and long-term goals.
Medical savings tips
Though there is no easy way to the address the need for affordable healthcare, there are options for students.
“There are health care professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping college students. They know the best ways to make it cost effective.”
The college clinic offers services at no charge to students as well as a wealth of free information and referral services as needed. According to Johnston.
Before visiting a physician, visit local pharmacies like those at Publix and Wal-Mart to get pamphlets listing their free or discounted prescriptions. A doctor can often find alternatives on those lists for a fraction of the cost.
Buying in bulk
Students who are sharing a household might find it beneficial to obtain a membership card from a store which sells in bulk. A Collegiate Membership at Sam’s Club costs 40$. There is a special offer at this time for a 15$ gift card for signing up. Buying in bulk requires some household planning in advance but offers many benefits.
Students training for careers under the oversight of licensed professionals can offer significant savings for services on campus. The cosmetology department offers a full range of services from haircuts to manicures for low rates Mondays through Fridays by appointment. For an appointment, call 484-2567. The dental clinic at Pensacola State offers students X-rays, teeth cleaning and fluoride treatment for 20$. You can make an appointment by calling 484-2236.
Students are faced with more financial concerns in these difficult economic times than in years past but small changes can add up to big savings over the course of a year. If students learn to develop intelligent savings strategies they will gain knowledge which will serve them beyond their college years.