July 2, 2018

Money Mistakes You Can Avoid as a Law Student

6 common money mistakes you're making in law school that's driving you deeper into law school debt, and how you can avoid them. How to save money in law school. How to minimize your law school debt. law school budgeting. law school saving money. law school tips. law school advice. law school blog. law student blogger | brazenandbrunette.com

Happy July everyone! Today I am SO excited to feature a new and amazing blogger from Legally Blonde and Broke! I always get so excited when I see a new law school blog, but then am disappointed when they never post a second post 😔 But not this blog!! Not only is she posting lots of new content, she's posting some great content, too. Like today, where she's taking over ze blog and is talking all about 6 things you can do to avoid spending too much money in law school!

You can find her on 
A little bit about today's writer,
Current Law School: Northwestern School of Law (Chicago)
Undergraduate: University of Wisconsin Madison
Major: Political Science
Minor: Social Work

The first year of law school can cause be stressful enough with your studies alone, but when you factor in your expenses and bills, you may worry as to how you are going to make ends meet. The ABA restricts first year students from working more than 20 hours a week - if at all. Trying to pay bills while working minimal hours can be nearly impossible. While student loans are always an option, borrowing the least amount as possible is always desirable. You don’t want to graduate law school with a significant amount of debt. Many law students make common money mistakes that are highly avoidable, spending much more than is truly necessary. Here some proven tips that can help you save money and stress less about your finances in law school.

Don’t Buy Coffee Every Morning

During my first semester of law school, I bought coffee from Starbucks almost every morning. While I did not get the most expensive thing on the menu, I was still spending around $5 a day on coffee. When you think about it – this can add up to around $700 a semester.  
One way you can avoid this is to buy coffee from the grocery store. I am pretty picky with my coffee and prefer iced coffee or cold brew every morning. Almost every grocery store carries a variety of iced coffee (and other specialty drinks) for around $5 a container. I typically use one container a week and was able to save around $20 a week just by switching to grocery store coffee. I still buy Starbucks brand coffee (which in my opinion tastes the same as from the actual café) but don’t spend nearly as much as I used to.

Rent Your books Instead of Purchasing Them

One mistake that a lot of first year students make is to buy brand new law books. These books can range anywhere from $150-300 per book. While the idea of getting a brand new, crisp textbook might be enticing – it is not worth it. 
Rental books are a fraction of the cost and are usually in great condition (I have never had a problem with a book). On top of this, many times rental books are lightly highlighted with the important rules and details from cases. This gave me a great idea of what to look out for when I was reading a case and allowed me to take notes a lot more efficiently. 

Related: How to rent law school books and Where to get the best deals on law school books

Look for a roommate instead of living alone

If you go to school in a big city, then you know just how expensive rent can be. Studio and one-bedroom apartments are some of the most expensive apartments on the market. Despite their smaller size, living with a roommate(s) is far cheaper. 
While looking for apartments in Chicago, I was able to cut my rent in half by living with one other person. 1-bedroom apartments were around $1800, while 2-bedroom apartments (that were much nicer) were around $1000/person. 
With that being said, make sure you find a roommate that will be easy to live with and allow you to study without any significant distractions. Living with someone in law school is a lot different than living with someone in college.
Even better than getting an apartment, if your parents live close enough to your law school, live at home for a year or two. This can save you thousands of dollars on rent, food, and necessities. But make sure to budget for the commute because this can add up as well.

Related: How to get free rent in law school 

Apply for scholarships offered by your law school 

While it seems like an obvious piece of advice, almost 80% of the students at my law school did not apply for scholarships that were offered throughout the year.  Typically, firms and organizations will send your school scholarship opportunities that are offered exclusively to your school or your area. Most scholarships are easy to apply for and are well worth your time.
Many students are deterred from scholarships that require a personal statement or letters of recommendation. One thing I did was obtain generic letters of recommendation from my professors that I was able to use for multiple scholarships. I also wrote a personal statement that was versatile enough to be slightly tweaked to be used over and over again. Often these scholarships will have little competition and you will have a much higher chance of getting them (& many times they offer more money).

Related: How to negotiate your law school scholarships and Where to find law school scholarships 

Work Every Winter and Summer Break

Most law students are able to find great opportunities for summer break but choose not to work while they have off for a month in the winter. Even if it is not with a law firm, working at any job while you are off of school for a month can help you save a significant amount of money. You may feel as though you would rather have a break from work and school than make money. If this is the case, then maybe choose to work part time. You can still save a good amount of money and it will keep you from feeling over-worked while you have off from school. 
What I did my first and second year was work every Friday throughout the school year (because I did not have class on Friday), as well as full time throughout winter and summer break. At times, I will admit that I felt tired and sick of working, but without it I would have struggled to pay my bills or even have the funds to have fun with my friends. 

Save, Save, Save

Law school can be a truly difficult time financially. While many of your friends have already started their careers, it can be difficult to budget and make money when you need to focus so much on school. These simple tips can help you save a significant amount of money without having to give up your favorite things. Remember to budget and plan for expenses you plan to incur. Trust me, your future self will thank you. 

Related: How to make money in law school 


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