It costs a lot to attend college, and it isn’t getting any cheaper. There are ways to save money though, and lessen the burden of your education. Some of them will even make your experience better, so before you study those textbooks, study this list for you to learn how to save money in college.
15 Effective Tips on How to Save Money in College
1. Visit Cashbackbase to Shop Online
Shopping online regularly can quickly dry up your wallet. Why not visit some deal sites to save money in college? Simply sign up on Cashbackbase, and you can save up to 100% in getting what you want for daily life.
2. Don’t Buy New Textbooks
Textbook editions are changed every couple of years, but in most subject areas, the contents change very little. Buying used textbooks, even if they are an edition or two out of date, usually works just fine. If the edition was used last year, or even last semester, you might even find one that is a current edition and in good shape.
Keep it clean and tidy, and you can even sell it onward when you’re done with it for even more savings.
3. Save Your Spare Change
Put a cup or bowl in a safe place and drop your loose change into it at the end of each day. When the bowl is full, or when you need some extra cash for an emergency, count it out and cash it in.
Most automatic change counting machines are convenient, but they charge anywhere from 5% to 15% of the money counted. That means changing in $20 worth of change will only give you $19 at the most, and as little as $17. If you’re really pressed for time, this might be okay, but rolling it and taking it into the bank lets you keep 100% of it. If you have a lot, that’s worth the time.
4. Always Ask for Student Discounts
Many businesses, restaurants, and services give discounts of anywhere from 5% to 10% – sometimes more – to students.
If you are going out with people who aren’t students, use your student discount in lieu of a tip – the others will get a deal on their meals, can compensate for it, and still get a discount.
Keep in mind that banks offer student accounts too. These seldom give good interest rates, but they have low or waived fees.
5. Limit Your Eating out
It’s always tempting to take a break by eating out with friends, or to grab something quick at a café and avoid taking the time to prepare and carry a meal from home. As much as this seems a good idea at the time, it can easily add up to almost as much as your rent over the course of a month!
Instead, spend a little more on groceries that you love, and focus on enjoying preparing special food as a break from studies. You might even want to create club with friends, taking turns preparing a particular kind of meal, or making a variety of meals as a group.
You’ll save a lot on food costs, and maybe on entertainment expenses too!
6. Live with a Roommate
Choose the right roommate and you can cut your expenses in half. Not just rent, but broadband, certain household goods and groceries can be so much cheaper when shared out.
A roommate can also be a built-in social outlet, but be careful. A best friend isn’t always a good roommate. Someone you don’t know as well is often more courteous as a roommate, and keeps boundaries better. Make sure your roommate is as dedicated to studies as you are though, and social time can mix with study time, making the hours of reading and memorization less lonely.
7. Make Coffee Yourself
Coffee shops are fun and relaxing – but no one ever calls them cheap. Treating yourself to a high-quality coffee machine (or French press, Turkish coffeemaker, etc.) and some luxury beans may seem like a big outlay, but when set beside a semester of receipts from any of the major chains, it quickly shows itself to be a better deal.
An added bonus is that you can make your coffee right at home, saving travel time and avoiding the potential drains on time and money that going out for coffee can bring.
8. Make Good Use of Credit Cards
Choose a card with a low-interest rate – preferably with some rewards from Amazon or some other retailer you might use – and then be very careful with it. Pay it off each month, if you can, to avoid fees, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking of your credit limit as if it is money in your pocket. It’s not; it’s a debt.
9. Choose the Right Bank
Shop around a bit to find the right bank for you. There should be a branch in easy travel distance from where you will live or attend classes. You should have a bank machine nearby that is accessible at any time, and doesn’t charge you any fees to withdraw cash.
Many banks have student accounts and even student credit card offers. Finding an account that won’t charge you fees, and will help you with managing your finances, is a worthwhile reward for an hour or two of shopping around.
10. Pay Your Bills on Time to Avoid Penalties
Bills need to be paid anyway, so pay them on time – or even a little early – to avoid fees and interest. A great deal can quickly turn sour if charges are added to the ticket price.
Credit card fees, overdraft penalties, and other expenses can add up, often almost invisibly, over the course of your education. They’re needless expenses, and a little care can avoid them entirely.
11. Shop Wisely
Don’t buy things you don’t really need, and don’t buy the first thing you find. Take advantage of companies that offer student discounts, but be aware that other stores may have the items at a lower price, even if there isn’t a discount for being in school.
Buy non-perishable items in bulk when you can. The money you save will be the same as getting some of it free – but make sure you don’t over-extend and lose the savings to credit card interest or other fees.
12. Monitor Cell Phone Usage
Get an inexpensive plan and stick to it. Set your phone to pick up free WIFI from your home, your school, and even your friends’ homes. That way you’ll use as little data or other chargeable services as possible.
Most phone plans offer unlimited calls and texts, and many included unlimited streaming for their more expensive plans. Choose wisely.
13. Use Public Transportation
If you can get away without a car, do it. Above the regular expenses of a car – the payment, insurance, registration, etc. – there are less visible ones. Even if it doesn’t break down, things wear out. Tires, headlights, filters and other parts need to be replaced. A faulty light will cost you to replace it, and a fine for not doing so is even more. Add to this the cost of fuel, giving rides to friends, parking, etc., and public transportation becomes an economic, but most of all very predictable, expense.
14. Take Advantage of Campus Activities
Most schools have events happening all the time, and most of these are free to students. Become a fan of a school team – or play on one yourself. Join a film appreciation club or other activity you enjoy. These activities will fill a social need, cost nothing, and make your educational experience richer.
15. Carry a Water Bottle Around with You
Water is cheapest from your tap, if feasible in your area, from a filtered pitcher in your fridge, or from a grocery store. Buying water from restaurants, cafes, or vending machines will increase the cost exponentially. Keep healthy, hydrated, and economical with a decent water bottle to hand at all times.
3 Bonus Tips for College Students to Make Money
1. Sell Used Stuff
Go through your old stuff and see what you never use any more. DVDs, clothing, toys, books – virtually anything that is in good shape – can be sold online. You may not get much for any single item, but all together it can add up to a tidy sum, and you’ll clear out a lot of old junk while you’re at it.
2. Become a Tutor
If your strengths include academic or teaching talent, put your background knowledge and teaching skills to work for you even before graduation. Students who are a year behind you, or are struggling in areas where you access, will pay to get your help – and you’ll reinforce your knowledge and skills in the process.
3. Drive with Uber or Lyft
These innovative companies have done more than just disrupt the taxi industry – they’ve provided a super-flexible way for people to earn money, full time or in their spare time. To drive for these companies, you need to be at least 21 years old, have a year or more of driving experience, pass a background check, and drive a car made in 2007 or later.
Making more money is one way to make college more affordable, but saving money is just as good – it can fit any schedule, and you can’t get fired! Using a combination of earning more, spending less, and freeing yourself up to concentrate on the studies at hand, will increase your chances of success in college, and decrease the leftover burden when you’ve finished. This will help you to get on with the business of earning a living and building a life – without the added burden of inflated debt and stress.