Attending college may offer you some of the best years of your life, especially if you intend to live on campus. Tuition and cost of living, however, is not precisely economical, regardless of your major or your choice of university.
Have you ever heard anyone say “I’m as broke as a college student”? There’s a good reason for that saying. Most college students aren’t earning enough money to make ends meet, or they spend what money they do have rather poorly because they weren’t taught money management skills in high school.
We’re going to show you 20 different and effective ways to save money while in college:
1. Create A Budget And Stick To It:
This first rule goes for ANYONE trying to save money, not just college students. If you don’t know where your money is going every month then, you’ll never know the true potential of your saving power! You need to budget to find out where you can make some cut-backs and save money. Use this free online budgeting tool: http://www.onlinebudgetadvisor.com/. You can also track your purchases through free Smartphone Apps.
2. Open A Savings Account:
Establishing financial discipline is one of the best ways to save money while you are working your way through college. Open a savings account with your current bank and begin depositing at least $25 each week into it. Saving a bit of money from each of your paychecks or each week is a way to ensure you have a financial safety net in place in case an emergency arises.
If you are ever in an auto accident, find yourself stuck without transportation, or in need of emergency grocery money, you will have a savings account to rely on in tough times. Opening a savings account and committing to saving money each week is also a way to discipline yourself when it comes to parting with your money, versus managing your money effectively and beneficially.
3. Pay Off Your Student Loans ASAP:
Paying off your student loans as quickly as possible is extremely important, regardless of the amount of loan debt you have taken on. Invest your free time in learning a new skill or trade to take on additional part-time work once you have completed your classes for the day. Working traditional retail jobs or a minimum wage job is also an option while you are enrolled in school, although it may be more stressful financially while paying off your student loans in a timely manner.
4. Buy In Bulk:
It is also important to buy in bulk, especially when you are in school full-time and working with an extremely limited budget. Visit a local Costco, Sam’s Club, or consider shopping online with bulk websites or services such as Amazon. Purchasing foods and toiletries along with other necessities in bulk is not only a way to save money, but it is also useful to save time, providing you with additional free time or more time to work.
5. Swap Your Car For Public Transportation:
Whether you choose to live on campus or near your university, ditch your car in favor of public transportation if possible. While not all colleges may offer an array of public transportation options, many do. Cut the cost of maintaining your vehicle, paying for gas, and paying for auto insurance each month by opting for public transportation instead. In addition to cutting costs and saving money, reduce your carbon footprint by taking a shuttle, bus, or underground subway.
6. Purchase Used Textbooks:
Save money by purchasing your textbooks from former students or try renting the textbooks that you need online. There are many practical ways to save money on this necessary expense. If you’re looking to save the maximum amount of money possible, consider trying a variety of different methods until you find the solution that works best for you. Check out this great article from The Simple Dollar: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/how-to-save-money-on-college-textbooks/
7. Live In The Dorms:
I know it doesn’t sound the greatest thing in the world, but you can save a ton of money by living in the dorms instead of renting an apartment off-campus. Unless you can find a really cheap place to rent and some friends who can live with you and help with the rent, it’s probably a good idea just to stick with the dorms.
If you choose not to live on campus due to the cost or location, consider getting a roommate or rooming with another individual who is also attending the same university as you. The more roommates you live with, the less you will be responsible to pay each month to cover the cost of rent and utilities.
8. Cook Your Own Food:
It doesn’t have to be all Ramen noodles or PB&J sandwiches for you. School meal plans can be really expensive though, and if you’re NOT eating 3 or more meals a day in the cafeteria, you could be wasting money. Try cooking some of your own meals a few times a week. Look for cheaper alternatives or shop in bulk stores and use a microwave, crockpot, Instant Pot, hot plates, or an electric griddle to make some great meals and save money.
Plan your meals ahead of time to prevent overspending when it comes to dining out or ordering in. Dedicate one day a week to grocery shopping, cleaning up your dorm room or apartment, and prepping meals for the upcoming week. If you want to pursue a lifestyle of healthy eating, prepping meals in advance is a must.
9. Use Your Student Discount Everywhere:
Your student ID grants you discounts on items such as food, movie tickets, computers, and books, to name just a few. Student discounts can also be beneficial when it comes to traveling because many companies like Amtrak or Greyhound offer discounts for student travelers. Don’t be afraid to ask everyone if they provide student discounts because it could save you a lot of money in the long run.
10. Buy Cheap Drinks:
Now, this goes without saying, but we’re talking about anyone who’s 21 and over here. Buy the really cheap beer like Keystone, Schlitz, Pabst Blue Ribbon, etc. and buy it in bulk if you can. If you are not a fan of beer, then maybe try cheap wines or cheap liquor. If you mix it with enough juice or pop, you usually can’t even tell that it’s the cheap stuff, but your wallet will thank you! We know drinking is a part of college, and it’s usually a very costly part, but it doesn’t have to be.
11. Entertainment Can Eat Up Your Budget:
Concerts, movies, art crawls, culture exhibits, restaurants, late-night parties, cab fare, new outfits, and more can really add up and take a big chunk out of your overall budget. While these things are fun and make lasting memories, try to limit how many you do per month, or find a cheaper way of doing things. Check out free local events in your area and carpool with someone that owns a car. You can still have fun without spending a ton of money.
12. Take Cheap Transportation:
Instead of driving everywhere and spending your money on fuel, parking passes, and possible parking violation tickets, look into the local bus schedule or the subway system. If there is a transportation service that is run by the college, take advantage of that because you’ll probably be able to ride for free with a Student ID. If a transportation system doesn’t exist, try to work out class schedules with friends that own a vehicle and carpool. If you’re close enough then just walk or bike to class and get some exercise while saving money.
13. Find Ways To Make More Money:
A part-time job is a great way to bring in extra income, and it will give you more flexibility with your money. Working in a restaurant or delivering pizza can bring in some awesome tips. You can also tutor students in a subject that you excel in and make some money on the side. Only do this if working will not interfere with your studies. You and/or your parents are putting in a lot of money for your college education, so you shouldn’t let your grades suffer because you need more party money.
14. Use Credit Cards Wisely:
College students will receive many credit card offers, and while it’s a good idea to open credit so you can build a strong credit history, it’s more important to use that credit wisely. It’s probably a good idea to start out with a Secured Credit Card first and see how you do with that before opening an unsecured credit card. Be super smart with your first credit card and don’t abuse it. If you choose an unsecured credit card, make sure that you open a card with a low APR (Annual Percentage Rate) if you can, and look for other perks like NO annual fees, 0% APR for 18 months or 5% cashback rewards.
15. Become A Resident Advisor:
Aside from tuition, room and board are going to be your next biggest expense. At some schools, room and board costs even more than tuition. Hey, they’ve got to pay for those ungodly expensive dorms somehow. Students who work as Resident Advisors frequently get free or significantly reduced room and board in exchange for their work. Considering that the average full-time student attending an in-state public school pays $10,230 per year in room and board according to The College Board, working as an RA can be one of the most lucrative gigs on campus.
16. Understand Your Class Fees:
It’s important to know the fees for each class that you are taking. Some classes might have higher fees because of the special equipment needed or for other reasons. If it isn’t a required class, then you might want to consider taking a more affordable class instead. Look closely at your schedule and the associated class fees; ask an advisor if there is a more affordable option that will still give you the credit you need.
17. Get Good Grades:
Certain courses may require a specific grade to count toward your degree, and you might need to meet a grade point average requirement to enroll in a certain course or even graduate. Retaking classes you failed the first time means you’re ripping up money because you’ll have to pay for that class again. Try your hardest to get the best grades possible and this will have you save money in the long run.
18. Curb Late Night Hunger Cravings:
If you’re in the dorms and don’t have access to a stove, stock up on foods that don’t require one: oatmeal, granola bars, trail mix, cereal, sandwiches, salads, and microwavable pasta, pizzas, rice, and dinners. This way if your meal plan is used up or the cafeteria is closed, you can still eat without ordering out or picking up fast food.
19. Social Media Is Your BFF:
Your college might post important information on free events or deadlines for scholarship applications on their Twitter feed or Facebook page. The city or town you’re living in might post information on free things to do in the area, so be sure to follow them as well. It’s also a good idea to follow local businesses, like restaurants or grocery stores, for coupons and deals.
20. Utilize Free Campus Amenities:
You want to have fun in college, but sometimes fun events or activities come at a high price. Before you spend money out on the town, check out what activities or events there are on campus. There’s usually a lot available for free, from concerts, to movie nights, to fitness classes, or open-mic nights. You can use the health or athletic center, academic activities like study groups, counseling services like meditation or therapy, and so much more. Here are a few ideas: https://www.campusbooks.com/blog/use-campus-amenities/
While saving money as a college student is not always easy, it is possible with plenty of hard work and a commitment to your financial security and wellbeing. Using a few of the above tips, learn how to effectively save money as you work towards your degree and a better and brighter future for yourself.
You might have to get creative and start to live more frugally, but it will all be worth it went you graduate with little to no credit card debt. It’s going to be hard enough juggling those student loans; you don’t want to add high-interest credit card debt into the mix.