What I would do with $1000: dialogues of a strapped-for-cash college student

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To the average college student, the potential of being handed $1000 is like Willy Wonka handing you a check instead of a golden ticket. “Here you go. Do whatever you want!” It’s freedom.

Keeping in mind the vast possibilities of what one could do with $1000, many would choose travel, gadgets or luxury.

But if Ol’ man Wonka didn’t hand you a wad of cash, finding the most worthwhile way to spend your hard-earned savings can be difficult to navigate.

For a full-time student who is working part time and making minimum wage, $1000 can take over a month to accumulate, not to mention save.

Like most students, I dream continually over how I should or shouldn’t use my savings because of how many months it took me to earn it.

That’s why over the coming installments, this column will give examples of students who, with around $1000, used money they had in order to get the most value; students who packed their own lunches and said “no thank you” to the short-term gratifications of overpriced food at UVU. Students who waited to see Star Trek: Into Darkness in the cheap theatre, and even more importantly, used their savings towards long-term financial goals and ended up living out an even bigger dream.

Photo: Matt Bowen

Photo: Matt Bowen

With so many options in today’s consumerist world, lack of financial goals is leaving college students regretful in the long term

Of 352 students who graduated in 2013, an independent survey by ORC international found that 57 percent said they could have saved more money for college with better choices.

Of the above-mentioned 57 percent, 69 percent thought they could have saved by cutting back on entertainment and eating out and 64 percent think they could have cut back on retail spending.

That’s not to say that eating out or shopping at the mall is bad. But the truth is, there are opportunity costs associated with every decision. For example, anytime I choose to spend $1000 on a trip to Rio, I can’t buy a Siberian tiger for my back yard.  When it comes to money, you can only spend it once.

One study from Duke University estimated that habits, rather than conscious decision-making, shapes 45 percent of the choices we make every day. New marketing research is continually advancing in order to monitor customer-shopping habits so businesses can make more money.

Don’t be a mindless creature of habit. If your weekly Costa Vida fix is stopping you from saving up for your life-long dream of world travel you’ll enjoy my next column installment where I’ll be discussing how a savings of approximately $1000 can take you on your next adventure. Until then, pack your lunch and stay strong.