Artist’s Guide to Managing Student Debt
Unfortunately, art majors are one of the most at-risk for taking on substantial student debt during college. This debt can become a large problem when paired with low-paying salaries in fresh-out-of-college jobs. From the lengthy studio hour requirements to the expensive art supplies required for each class, art students have to pay special attention to managing their finances during college. Keeping extraneous spending in check, and shopping sales are great ideas, but it will take a more focused approach to graduate with manageable levels of debt. Here are some tips to keep your head above water as you navigate your finances during art school:
Only borrow what you need.
While it can be tempting to take out the maximum amount that you can in student loans each semester, this practice can be disastrous. Even the most well-intentioned borrower cannot resist a pricey night on the town with friends or high quality art supplies normally out of their price range. Instead, only borrow the money you need to pay for tuition, books, and supplies.
Take on freelance jobs for extra money when possible.
Whether you get a part time job as a barista at Starbucks or whether you take on freelance art jobs on platforms like Upwork, remember that every dollar you earn counts. Another good rule of thumb is for you to make sure that for every dollar you make, you stash away another dollar in savings. An extra cushion can make a big difference in peace of mind when you begin to look for a job after graduation.
Use your talent to save.
Birthdays, holidays, and other gift-giving occasions seem to come around too often when you are a student on a limited budget. However, you can make a rare and precious gift using your artistic talent. Paint a picture of your grandmother’s cat for her birthday. Paint a mural for your sister’s baby shower gift. Design a logo for your friend’s wedding. These gifts are more thoughtful than a gift card, and they will save you money.
Pool your resources.
Get together with other art students to buy art supplies in bulk. Over time you can save a substantial amount when sharing these supplies. Buying groceries, cleaning supplies, and other necessities in bulk from stores like Costco can also result in big savings.
Be waste conscious.
From using the last bit of soap in the dispenser to using the last bit of paint in the tube, keeping an eye on unnecessary waste will ensure that you get your money’s worth of every product you purchase. While you may not enjoy eating leftovers, you can learn to use them creatively to create a different meal. If you have chili today, you can use it to make tacos tomorrow. Instead of donating your old clothes to charity, take them to a consignment shop. A few dollars in your pocket can help you get through the week and can add to your overall savings, too.