Can you believe that in less than a month, college students will be packing up the car and getting ready to participate in what is traditionally known as “move in day”?!?! How on earth can it be time for another year of college classes to begin….and where has summer gone?!?!

As these last few days and weeks tick away, you may find yourself wondering what you should do before you leave your high school/hometown friends and embark on the journey that is college.

There are two camps you’re probably teeter-tottering between: do you save your pennies or do you take advantage of the remainder of summer and go crazy at the expense of your wallet? I wish there was a clear answer, a Buzzfeed quiz or a magic eight ball that would tell you exactly what to do…but sorry, there’s not.

My last summer before college, I worked at a florist in my hometown, Hickory, NC. I would cut flowers, take orders, go on deliveries, make arrangements and stare out the window longing to be outside and free of responsibility. Then once every two weeks, when my paycheck arrived, my heart would skip a beat and the sound of punching the clock was music to my ears.

However, the summer after my sophomore year, I worked from home. This meant that there were fewer hours. So, I went out to eat, visited more coffee shops, revamped my closet and lost track of my bank account. At the end of the summer, I was regretting a few of my decisions and impulse purchases. Yikes.

All of this to say, the grass will always be greener on the other side. So, no matter which side of the fence you’re leaning on, find a balance.

Hopefully you still have some of your graduation money tucked away somewhere, but don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket! There are unexpected expenses that college brings, and you’ll want to be prepared for those.

For instance, eating is a very social experience in college. If you want to hang out with your suite mates or a group of friends, typically you’ll go out for brunch or dinner. Everyone is busy but everyone has to eat, so why not eat together! These meals are packed with laughter and memories but, unfortunately, it can get expensive very quickly.

You’ll also want to constantly buy your team’s gear for home games and to show off your school pride. Comfort color t-shirts are my weakness. After three years at UNC, I have an entire Carolina blue load of laundry. Every event I go to, I buy the t-shirt. The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one…right?

Let’s not forget about textbooks. I try to block this out of my memory. Two times a year when I have to go to the student stores to pay for my textbooks, I make a deal with the devil, count my pennies and pray I’ll be able to re-sell my books at the end of the semester. If you’ve been there, you know.

There are plenty of reasons you’ll want to save some of that graduation money or any funds you’ve accumulated from mowing lawns, babysitting or working that summer job. But, it can’t be all work and no play!

When you do spend your money, enjoy it and don’t feel guilty. With that being said, it would be wise not to spend your money on frivolous things. Limit how many times you go to Starbucks, keep track of how often you’re going out to eat, and shop the sale racks!

My favorite ways to spend and the best advice I have on how to spend money during this last month would be to make memories and not buy items.

Here are 10 of my favorite summer activities that are cost-friendly and fun!

1. Visit your local Farmer’s Market–you’d be amazed at the things you’ll find!
2. Wake up early and go on a hike in the mountains and watch the sunrise at the top.

Take a hike in the mountains.
3. Buy (cheap) lawn tickets to your favorite band’s concert.
4. Visit a friend that lives in a different city for a few days and let them show you around their hometown.
5. Grab your friends, pack a picnic and go to the park for an afternoon.
6. Check out an art museum or science center near you or perhaps in the town where you’ll be attending school.

Visit a local museum or science center.
7. Find a great book to read. My recommendation for a summer book would be All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
8. Exchange $5 with a friend, go to Target and you each buy the other person something that is $5 or less.
9. Again, grab your friends and plan a day trip to the North Carolina Zoo for a day!

Visit the N.C. Zoo.

10. Find a Pinterest recipe and make dinner for your family. Yum!

The memories you make will be worth more than a new pair of jeans or a venti Starbucks mocha plus, your bank account will reach new heights.

There are plenty of exciting and cost-saving activities that you can do during this last month of summer before college. You don’t have to spend a ton of money before you leave home and best of all, the memories you’ll make will be priceless!

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