College students are notoriously broke. Most can scrape by with eating Ramen noodles every night and wearing their underwear inside out.
If this lifestyle doesn’t appeal to you, it’s time for a lesson on how to save money in college.
This might seem like an impossible feat when your schedule is already packed with 15 credits and your scholarship requires you to maintain a certain GPA.
But with a little creativity, you can debunk the broke college stigma and actually graduate ahead of the game!
Grab your calculator and let’s get into it.
1. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Senior citizen discounts aren’t the only ones available at most establishments. Students can take advantage of a ton of free and discounted items and deals if you know where to look.
Gym memberships, eateries, insurance companies, and even the Apple store all offer student discount rates. You can save anywhere from 15% to a few hundred bucks! Then, you can bank the money you saved for a rainy day or invest it in something more useful.
Just remember to always carry your student ID in case you stumble across a student discount.
2. Buy Used Textbooks
The days of spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks are long gone. Not only are there dozens of ways to save by purchasing used textbooks online, but many professors are opting for online resources instead.
Before you head to the college bookstore and spend thousands on books that are only good for one semester, do some research. Can you find a used version online for cheaper? Does the course actually require a textbook? Or can you and a classmate share the cost?
If you’ve already made the mistake of buying brand new books that you no longer need, find a reputable online site to sell them on and recoup some of your losses.
3. Find a Roommate
Splitting the cost of everyday living in college is an easy way to save.
There are pros and cons to living on campus. On the one hand, dorm life is much cheaper than renting an apartment or house off-campus. But living in such close quarters with little freedom might cramp your style.
If you do choose to venture outside the college dorms, find a roommate to share the monthly rent – or two or three! Research different off-campus housing options including small homes and apartments.
4. Limit Takeout Food
College life can be hectic and grabbing fast food on the go is all too easy. Whether it’s take-out pizza, a fast-food drive-thru or your morning coffee, try to limit how much you spend on food.
Grocery shop whenever possible and cook meals at home. Pack a lunch and brew your own coffee. All these small expenses add up. Get together with your roommates and share the cost of groceries.
Now’s as good a time as any to call your mom for your favorite recipes and learn how to cook.
5. Use Credit Cards Wisely
Uninformed college students often view credit cards as free money. They apply to multiple cards and run them up on miscellaneous purchases without realizing the bill will come at the beginning of the month.
Credit cards for college students aren’t always a bad idea – when you use them the right way.
Check out different credit card offers and find one with the lowest interest rate. Avoid spending carelessly. Only charge what you know you can afford each month.
Using and paying off your credit cards helps build good credit for the future. Not paying on time or carrying multiple high balances could lead to late fees and damage your credit score.
6. Be a Smart Commuter
Most colleges and universities limit which students can bring a car to school. Spots are limited and they usually go to the senior students.
But don’t be too bummed out – this is actually good news for your wallet.
Commuting too and from work and school can work wonders for your budget. Not to mention, it’s good for your health and the environment.
Try walking, riding your bicycle, or taking public transportation. If you do bring a car to school, try investing in a gas card.
7. Take Advantage of Campus Amenities
Looking for something fun to do on Friday night? Want to get fit and join a gym? Look no further than your college campus.
Most universities are packed with amenities just waiting for you to take advantage of.
Check with the resource center and ask about parties, fitness classes, clubs, and other free activities. Not only is this a great opportunity to get involved and make new friends, but it’ll save you a bundle!
8. Evaluate Your Cellphone Bill
If you’re in college, chances are you’re one of the 5 billion people in the world that owns a cellphone. Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest monthly expenses for most college students.
Start by evaluating your monthly bill. How much data are you using and are you being charged for extra fees and services you don’t need?
If possible, ask your parents about joining their family plan. Most services offer discounts for multiple lines. You can pay your parents for your portion of the cellphone bill while saving a few dollars every month.
9. Study Hard
Don’t forget that you’re paying to attend college. That means when you skip class or flunk out, the only person you’re hurting is yourself.
Study hard, attend class, and take school seriously. Your goal should be to get in and out of college in four years. Every additional semester will cost you more money in tuition and daily expenses.
Being a diligent student is especially important if you receive scholarship money to attend a certain university. The minute you default on your scholarship requirements you’ll need to start paying your way to stay enrolled.
Knowing How to Save Money in College Isn’t That Hard
Once you know how to save money in college, it’s actually quite simple!
By making smart financial choices and taking advantage of local deals and discounts, you can save money and graduate with your credit intact.
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