Many students are feeling the hurtful pinch of rising tuition costs and living expenses while in college. However, the great news is that you don’t have to be a starving homeless student. There are a ton of ways to save money and keep more of your hard earned cash instead of spending it, and we have come up with the ideas to help you!
Don’t buy new textbooks.
Textbooks can be horribly expensive. Before spending the ridiculous price, check out other alternatives so you don’t burn a hole through your jeans. The cheapest idea would be to borrow books from a fellow student or your university’s library. If that doesn’t work, check out buying used textbooks at Amazon.com or rent them from Barnes & Noble, or Chegg’s textbook service. Another smart option would be to order digital textbooks through sites like iFlipd, which actually offers a pay-as-you-go model. We don’t ever want you to pay more than you need to for school. Research these other options so that you can save as much money as possible!
Save money on your new laptop.
Look for discounts and tax-free days before you buy your next computer. Apple, Dell, and Adobe are among those offering reduced prices to college students. Most campus bookstores also offer discounts on laptops to incoming students. Also, protect your investment by considering a lock for your laptop and also installing the latest antivirus software. The last unfortunate thing that can happen after getting a brand new laptop is to have a virus destroy it.
Watch it with credit cards.
Getting a credit card is extremely easy for college students. However, paying it off isn’t always extremely easy. If you do choose to get a credit card, get one with the lowest interest rate, and only charge what you can pay off. It’s very important to remember this hint, because too many people get into the habit of buying things that they can’t actually afford. Also, be sure to pay off the full balance on time each month to avoid late fees. This will help build your credit and keep you from being a victim of credit card debt that so many students fall to.
Watch application fees.
Some scholarships renew each year, if you take the time to reapply. Be sure to get your applications in on time instead of having to lose the money that you are qualified to earn.
Limit eating out.
If you purchased the meal plan at school, use it as much as possible. Of course you want to eat out once in a while, but don’t make eating out a bad habit. The costs add up quickly! Save even more by stocking your mini-fridge with snacks and soft drinks from the grocery store instead of the vending machine or convenience store. I know a three course meal can be very appealing, but I promise your wallet, mom and dad, and, body will thank you later.
Choose housing carefully.
It’s typically cheaper to live on campus in the dorms instead of living far away. If you live on campus then you don’t have to spend money on transportation or a lot on food if you have a good meal plan. Make your housing budget go even further by splitting the cost with a roommate or roommates. Unfortunately, some housing places charges extra to park a car. If you don’t need your car, find somewhere to park it for free or forget it at home and take the bus, borrow a friend’s vehicle, Zipcar, or Uber. You can help save the environment and save your bank account.
Stay focused on your classes.
The reality is that many students don’t complete their degree in four years, and every additional semester is another big expense. Be sure to take advantage of university resources such as tutoring and academic advising to help you stay on track to graduate on time.
Use campus amenities.
Before you spend money downtown, check out what activities your campus already has. Typically, there are a lot of free nights at your school. Some examples of these activities might be movie nights, an ice cream bar, or fitness classes.
Get a coffee maker.
Chip in with your roommates to get a good coffee maker or Keurig instead of forking over money every morning for an expensive latte from Starbucks. It’s amazing how fast little expenses such as coffee adds up.
Buy in bulk.
It is a great idea to get a membership card for a store like Sam’s Club or Costco, where you can pick up nonperishable items and toiletries in bulk to save some money. You can buy bulk of so many products and then it will last you for a long time instead of having to make a grocery run once a week.
Monitor cell phone usage.
Signup for a site like My Data Manger or WhistleOut.com. These websites alert you with a notification if you exceed your monthly usage and will analyze your cell phone bills to make sure you have the best plan in place. Also, minimize your data usage by using Wi-Fi as much as possible. Try to stay off of your phone if you don’t need it when you aren’t on Wi-Fi.
Start paying off interest now.
If you took out loans to help pay for college, make in-school payments (even just $10 a month makes a difference) to help you save money.
Visit a local bank or credit union.
Ask about their checking and savings accounts designed for college students. They usually have a minimum balance and lower fees. Be sure that the financial institution you choose doesn’t hit you with big charges for things like using the ATM. Community 1st Credit Union offers a checking account called “Kasasa.” With a Kasasa account, you are able to get a refund for the ATM charges you receive. It’s also important to use online banking to track your account balance and avoid overdraft fees. If you want to learn more about Kasasa accounts, click here!
Check the labels.
Buy clothes that can be machine washed/dried to avoid costly dry cleaning bills.
Say goodbye to cable.
There are so many shows you can watch online for free or just a few bucks a month. Some examples would be Hulu or Netflix. You could save a lot of money throwing your cable away and using these online streaming sites instead. Besides, you shouldn’t have a ton of time to watch television in college anyway! 😉 It’s important to study and get your homework done before or by the due date.
Ask for student discounts wherever you go to get lower rates on everything from meals to car insurance to travel. Be sure to bring your student ID wherever you go so that you are able to access these discounts. If you don’t carry your ID, some stores won’t let you qualify for the discount. Hundreds of big brands like J.Crew as well as local shops and restaurants offer money off when you show your student ID.
College is a time to learn, meet new people, and have so much fun. If you aren’t smart with your money, the fun can be eliminated very quickly. Be careful on what you’re spending your hard earned money on. Good luck and study hard.