Learn to be thrifty

How much interest are you paying on that latte? That depends on whether you’re a pessimist or optimist.

There are two ways of looking at debt. ThereâÄôs the pessimist approach: guilt. Or thereâÄôs the optimist approach: investment. The latter is preferable; however, to be an optimist about debt does not mean you should throw away your student loan money on daily lattes, overpriced cafeteria food or needless commodities at Target. ItâÄôs easy to see loans and credit cards as âÄúfree money,âÄù forgetting their end sum, but when the reality of interest and month to month payments for each of those lattes sets in, youâÄôll probably wish you had been wiser with your money. This doesnâÄôt mean you have to cut lattes out of your budget completely. Sometimes itâÄôs necessary to purchase a beverage in order to study at an inspiring locale, or to take a possible love interest out on a curious coffee date, but you need to be conscious of where youâÄôre spending your money. ItâÄôs the $5 to $20 purchases that add up quickly. When you stop being negligent with your spending habits, you can start saving what you donâÄôt spend and put it toward your acquiring debt. The guilt likely wonâÄôt set in until you get closer to graduating and those dollars equate to what you will be paying in monthly fees for the following decade. But guilt will only succeed in giving you a sour feeling when you allow yourself any sort of luxury. So learn how to be frugal, get those luxuries for less. Yes, Starbucks is a luxury. Yes, chips and salsa is a luxury. That advice will cost you $10, thank you. The easiest place to hit your pocket book is the grocery store. Successfully perusing the produce aisles, planning meals and thinking ahead toward all of your eating needs is an art. But it is here that you can start cutting out those needless single digit purchases. If you typically get hungry in the afternoon and splurge on a sandwich and a smoothie, pack a snack and bring some fruit along. You donâÄôt have to purchase anything to study in the Student Center. Where else are you wasting your money? Think about how much you typically spend going out to eat, hitting the town with friends on weekends and for other types of leisure. Where can you cut corners? Why not have your friends over for dinner, or stay in instead of going to the bar? Spring break is almost here. How much money are you planning on dishing out and how can you be thrifty? Heading on a road trip? Pack a bag of snacks and a cooler instead of stopping for fast food. Going somewhere warm? Head to a local market and get some authentic food for a sunny picnic on the beach. Staying home? Catch up with your studies and relish in the fact that youâÄôre saving hundreds of dollars at the same time. The pessimistic approach to debt might help get you out of further trouble, but once the money is spent, thereâÄôs no way to get it back. DonâÄôt feel bad; college is an amazing time to enjoy the world while youâÄôre young. YouâÄôll never have the blissful ignorance of youth again. However, once you realize how to minimize your spending, your money will go a lot further. Know that the ultimate result of your debt is the investment of a higher education. Have an ambitious attitude toward your future, and a plan on how to pay it off. Live economically for a few years and knock off as much student debt as you can. The sooner you are free from your loans, the more you will save in interest. ItâÄôs never too late to start saving, but the deeper you get into debt, the longer it will take to dig yourself out of it. Be conscious of your habits and stop being wasteful. Thrifty living is a lifelong art that you can begin perfecting immediately. Ashley Goetz welcomes comments at [email protected].