Money Matters

How do you make that financial aid check last the semester? Here are a few ways to live well without sipping Cristal:

  • Scrimp on shrimp. Spending $20 or more several times per week at the grocery store can add up, says Kilianne Kimball, a fourth-year student at the Pacific Graduate School of Psychology. "Get cheap, fresh, healthy food by walking to the local farmer's market once a week," she says. "Not only is the food cheaper than at the store, but there is no way to be tempted by expensive extras like chips and soda." And few things suck money as fast as dinners out, says clinical psychology student Jessica Matthews of the University of Denver, whoinstead prepares and freezes casseroles she can stretch for days.

  • Get texts for less. "In most graduate-level classes, you will read primary journal articles; textbooks are usually there as a backup to fill in any general information on the subject matter that you may not already have," says Casey Murray, a cognitive neuroscience student at Dartmouth. Find out if you can buy older editions; if so, shop on discount sites such as Half.com or BookFinder.com.

  • Bargain shop. Hold off on the Hickey Freeman suit you've had your eye on and shop resale and consignment-style for now, says Matthews. Digging through piles of old clothes takes time, but sometimes you find the perfect ensemble for your upcoming conference presentation.

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. Matthews knows students who want to save their books for their professional library. However, "by the time we graduate, there will be newer editions of these books, and we'll be in better financial positions to afford them," she notes. Sell old texts on used book Web sites and tuck the money away for next semester's set. The same goes for clothes and electronics. If you don't need it anymore, pass it along and use the cash to cover your current expenses.

  • Cash in on free entertainment. Blockbuster and Netflix can distract you from your dissertation woes, but visit your local public library's DVD collection first, says Kimball. Need to get out? Check out your university's offerings for students, even if some might appear more geared to undergraduates. Free or cheap movies, concerts, and athletic events are worth the occasional run-in with students from classes you teach.

-A. Daniller