It’s hard not to talk about money when you talk about heading off to college this fall. Between the cost of tuition, books and supplies, living expenses, and having less time to work since you’re in school, it can really add up to financial disaster. Now that I’ve finally starting dealing with my student loan debt, I realized there were a lot of ways I could have saved while I was in school. So whether you’re heading off to college, going back to school, or have kids that’ll be there soon, here are 14 ways to save while you’re in college.
Easy Tips to Save Money in College
- Ditch your car.
If you’re living on campus or near your school, get rid of your car. If walking, biking, and public transportation are an option, use them. You’ll save thousands of dollars from a car payment, gas, parking, fees and registration, insurance, and major and minor repairs. Of course, consider if you’ll need the car for any job you might have or on breaks.
- Live at home.
It may not be as fun as living on your own or with your friends, but try to live at home for a few years. Besides the cost of rent, you’ll also be paying utilities, electric, cable, internet, laundry fees, rental insurance, and many more costs. If your school is close by home, consider living at home to save money.
- Take on roommates.
If your school is far away from home or you don’t have the option of living at home, take on roommates. Having a roommate or two will help you split the cost of food, utilities, cable, and of course, rent.
- Buy used instead.
Whether you’re furnishing your apartment or shopping for books, always try to opt for used items first. Shop for furniture at garage sales and on Craigslist. Shop for house wares, clothes, and more at consignment shops. Shop for your textbooks at a used book store.
- Don’t buy your text books.
Speaking of books, try to avoid buying textbooks and review the ways to save money on textbooks. Check to see if the textbook is available at your college’s library or at the local library. Also ask your teacher if the book is required or optional. You can also see if you can borrow a classmates’ book to scan the designated readings on your computer. If you have to buy it, check used book stores, Amazon, and Ebay. Try to keep the book in good shape so you can sell it after you’re done if you don’t think you will need it for another class.
- Have a budget for food.
Food is tricky in college. Many students aren’t too familiar with grocery shopping and cooking. Also, it’s tempting to over indulge on getting food delivered, picking up fast food, and spending money while going out with friends. But if you can do a little planning and be flexible, saving money on food in college isn’t hard at all. Make a budget, and stick to it. Take advantage of low cost food at cafeterias and on campus. Learn how to cook simple, healthy, quick recipes.
- Take advantage of all your discounts.
One of my biggest mistakes while I was in school was not taking advantage of all that comes to you from discounts and being a student. As a student, you can score all types of discounts like reduced admission to museums, shows, sporting events, as well as merchandise, restaurants, and bars. You can even get a discount on your car insurance if you’re in good academic standing. Always carry your student ID, and whenever you’re paying for anything, it doesn’t hurt to ask if there’s a student discount available.
- Use the perks of being a student at your school.
Besides discounts elsewhere, there’s tons of perks right at your school. Chances are there is a library, computer lab, gym, and health center that all have a lot to offer students for free. Sporting events, speakers, events, and other entertainment at your school is free and only available while you’re a student.
- Don’t take out more loans than you need.
It’s common for students to fall into the trap of taking out more student loans than they need. They use student loans to cover living expenses or even to take trips and buy unnecessary things. Really buckle down and only take out what you need.
- Work while you’re in school.
It’s rough to do, but try to work while you’re still in college. Even having a little bit of money from a part-time job will help you take out less loan money and help you save a lot in the long run.
- Live within your means.
Budgeting when you don’t have much money to juggle is rough, but it’s doable. Calculate the amount of money you have from working and leftover loan money. Find the lowest amount it can cost you for rent, utilities, bills, food, and other.
- Have a social life budget.
Similar to having a budget every month for food and along the lines of living in your means, have a social life budget. Many students spend more time expanding their social lives and hanging out with friends than worrying about school during college. Going out and having fun is important and shouldn’t be disregarded just because you’re saving money. Just change it up. Try to get your friends to do free things together instead of spending a lot of money. Joining intramural sports, going to free events around campus, and enjoying the outdoors are just a few switches for normal expensive activities. Instead of overspending at the bar or out to dinner, switch off having your friends over at each other’s places.
- Meet with your advisor regularly.
This is one of the most important things you can do to save a great deal of money. Your advisor can help you plan your courses each semester so you are not taking anything that isn’t necessary.
- Take classes at a community college.
If you can, take a few classes at a local community college before you head off to school or during summer. Community colleges are generally a lot less expensive than universities.
How did you save money during college?