Your college years may be one of the most financially stressful times in your life. As expensive as going to college can be, the financial challenge may be compounded by the fact that many young adults are managing their finances for the first time. You may not know how to properly manage your budget or to spend wisely, and this can make an already tight situation even harder to deal with. Here are some useful tips for how to save money as a college student that may help you through this time in your life.
You Can Save Money as a College Student if You…
While there are many expenses that college students simply must incur, such as paying tuition and buying textbooks, there are ways for you to reduce spending in most aspects of your life. When you know how to save money as a college student, you can decrease the amount of financial stress that you are feeling. In addition, you may even be able to enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle and focus more substantially on your studies.
1. Shop Around for Books
Depending on the types and number of courses that you take each semester, you may easily pay $500 to $1,000 or more on books as well as studying materials, special calculators, school supplies and more. The most common place to buy these items is at a campus bookstore, but this is not always the most affordable option.
Bonus read: Scholarship Owl Review
You could use the Internet to shop around and compare prices, but remember to include sales tax and shipping costs in your comparison. When you want to know how to save money as a college student, you could also rent your books rather than buy them. Another idea is to read reviews about specific instructors or classes online, and this is because some reviews may mention textbook pricing.
2. Get a Roommate
In many cases, it is more affordable to live on campus in a dorm, but this is not always the case. Compare off-campus housing costs against on-site dorm expenses rather than make an uneducated decision about where to live. Consider the cost of utilities, food and other expenses when making your comparison. All housing expenses should be examined when deciding which option is most affordable.
Regardless of how or where you plan to live in your college years, keep in mind that getting a roommate is usually a smart idea. A roommate may pay for half of your housing expenses. If you are renting an apartment, the roommate may purchase half of the furnishings and other household items that are needed for additional financial savings.
3. Ditch the Car
A car is often viewed as a necessity, but this is not always the case in college. Your vehicle may come with a monthly loan payment, fuel expenses, maintenance costs and auto insurance. If you ditch your car, you could save hundreds of dollars per month or more.
If you live on or near campus, you can walk, ride a bike or take the campus shuttle to school. During those rare times when you need to venture off campus, ridesharing is always an option.
4. Use Student Services
Learning how to save money as a college student requires you to examine the many services that your college offers. Your tuition may include free or reduced cost healthcare through the campus clinic. Another example is copying and printing services. Many colleges give you a specific number of free copies or printed pages each month.
Student services vary by campus, but they can save you a tremendous amount of money. Understand the services available to you so that you can take full advantage of them. Remember that affordable cafeteria food is also a type of service available on campus.
Bonus read: How Much to Save for College
5. Avoid Eating Out
Eating out is common in college. After all, you may live in a dorm and get tired of eating cafeteria food every single day. You may be too busy to cook or to go grocery shopping. Eating out may be convenient, but it can cost a small fortune.
For example, if you eat out at lunch one day, you may pay $10 or more. If you head to the grocery store with that same $10, you could buy bread, cheese and sandwich meat that give you a week’s worth of lunches. Plan ahead for meals so that you avoid eating out when possible.
If you live in a dorm, consider buying small snacks that you can keep in your room. You can also invest in a mini-fridge and microwave so that you can prepare some meals on your own.
6. Pay Cash
Many young adults get at least one credit card in college. It is common for college students to graduate with thousands of dollars of credit card debt. Credit cards do not simply delay the payment of your expenses for another day. They also charge you interest on any balances that you carry forward.
Interest charges can be a huge monthly expense, and this expense is entirely avoidable. Using cash for purchases when possible will eliminate or reduce interest charges. Otherwise, pay your entire credit card balance in full each month.
7. Learn How to Comparison Shop
If you are not currently comparison shopping, you may be spending more money than you need to on specific items. Comparison shopping is easier to do now than ever before because of the Internet. Get in the habit of comparison shopping before making any type of purchase.
In addition to comparing prices, you also should look at discounts and coupons that are available. Take advantage of free shipping offers and other promotions to save additional money.
8. Consider Used Items
When you learn how to save money as a college student, you will inevitably be frugal. However, you will still need to make numerous purchases over the years. Buying new products is common, but remember that there are numerous high-quality used items that may be available at a fraction of the cost.
Before buying any new items, get in the habit of looking for affordable used alternatives. This holds true for everything from clothes to cars and more. This tip can help you to save money, and it also has environmental benefits that you can feel great about.
While your college years can be financially stressful, you can see that there are many steps that you can take to reduce the burden of your cash situation. By doing so, you may be able to concentrate more fully on your studies. When you want to know how to save money as a college student, remember that you could combine multiple tips provided here for maximum benefits.