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4 College-Student Habits I Thought Would Save Me Money, But Definitely Didn’t

good habits in college

We’ve all been guilty of adopting bad habits in college: eating too many brownies in the dining hall, forgoing a workout so you have enough time to review your essay for the fifth time, dyeing your hair a different color every month. But we generally tend to abandon these habits by the time we graduate, entering the adult world by buying healthy groceries, joining a gym, and getting our hair done at a salon. 

But I had a few money-saving, good habits in college that I didn’t abandon. And much of the time, I thought they were genius tricks for saving money — but in the long run, they wound up costing me more than they were worth. 

4 “Good” Habits In College That Ended Up Costing Me Money

1. Only Running One Load Of Laundry

Who hasn’t tried to save a few quarters at the washing machines in college by only putting in one load of laundry instead of properly separating everything? I’m sure I’m not the first student to simply throw all their dirty clothes together into one, single load of laundry. However, I wound up continuing this habit post-grad, believing that I was saving money on my utility bills by not separating out my clothes in the wash. I never put delicate clothes, or bras, in the dryer, choosing to hand-dry them on a clothes rack instead — but I didn’t realize that putting these same items into a “normal” cycle in the wash was stretching them out.

I recently wound up spending close to $100 on new bras, simply because my old ones had been so stretched out from my poor laundry habits. A pair of formal pants I had bought less than a year ago from Ann Taylor faced a similar fate. I cannot stress this enough: take care of the items you have. Even if it means sacrificing time or resources to ensure that they are washed and dried the right way, it’s a money-saving technique in the long-run. Now, I’m forced to buy another pair of formal pants for work, less than a year after buying my last pair, instead of investing in an expensive pair of pants that could have lasted me at least 2-3 years.

2. Not Storing Beauty Products Properly 

We all know how costly beauty products are, which is why I own so few of them. A few months ago, I purchased an expensive Vitamin C serum in an effort to improve my skin and spend less on foundation and concealer. I knew that Vitamin C was notorious for going “bad” quickly, i.e., turning from its clear shade to a dark yellow, which would mean that the Vitamin C had oxidized and was significantly less potent. I stored the bottle in a dark, cool place — my closet — but it still oxidized so quickly that I was only able to use half of the bottle. What I should have done, I now know, was refrigerate the bottle. 

I tend to fall into this trap with other beauty products, too — particularly when it comes to using products well past their expiration dates and then having to spend money on other products to counteract the acne, or other skin reaction, that inevitably results. In college, I didn’t have time to research how best to store these products and, frankly, didn’t own them. But now, it’s time to invest in the items I own, particularly when they are expensive to begin with (the Vitamin C cost close to $60!), and I know they won’t be easy for me to replace.  

3. Not Regularly Trying On My Clothes

In college, I could always just assume everything I owned would fit me at any time. I found that my weight didn’t fluctuate too much, since I ate quite a bit in the dining hall but also walked everywhere. This saved me time and meant that I never bought too many clothes, too. 

But now, post-grad, my weight has shifted dramatically after months of intense working out and preparing my own meals (which are significantly healthier than what I was offered in the dining hall). As a result, a lot of my nicest clothes no longer fit me. This includes even the really nice outfits I bought for the variety of graduation events/parties I had to attend. Now, when I have an event to attend which needs a particularly nice outfit, I’m forced to rush out to buy something new since nothing in my closet fits well. That’s why I’ve begun to try on my entire wardrobe every few months, even if I don’t have any upcoming events. This way, I can make sure to note whichever items of clothing I need to replace or get tailored and still have time to look for the best deals that can save me money. 

4. Not Taking Care Of My Shoes 

In college, my shoes didn’t get very dirty. But now, living in a big city, I find that my shoes tend to accumulate a lot more dirt than they did before. I’d never gotten into the habit of cleaning my shoes, but now I’m forced to do these tasks immediately since, if I leave it for too long, my shoes tend to stain. This is a simple task that can definitely save a lot of money in the long run, since shoes get worn every day and tend to get the most wear-and-tear in your closet. Sometimes, researching the best ways to clean particular shoes can take some time and a bit of money in its own right — if you need to get a waterproof spray, for example, or a particular brush to pick out dirt that may get stuck in suede boots. But over time, it’s more than worth it.

Unlearning Bad College Habits

Can you relate to any of these? What are some habits that you’ve had to change, post-grad, versus what you were used to in college? 

Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.

Image via Unsplash

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