College gives you a lot of freedom, but it also comes with responsibility. If you are a student, it is important to consider saving your money. Due to the rising tuition costs, saving might seem difficult, but it is possible.
How you manage your money in college can prepare you for life outside college. You gain a better understanding of your finances and budget. You don’t need to go to extremes to save money. We will discuss some simple ways to save money and prepare for your future.
Let’s get started!
Create a budget
One of the first steps to saving money is creating a budget. Having a personal budget allows seeing what money goes where and how much you can spend in a given period. Most people make monthly budgets as they are easier to track.
Starting a budget in college will help you prepare for financial responsibilities outside the college. You will learn to balance your paycheck against your bills and other expenditures.
You can make your budget as detailed as you want but always include the main expenditure items in your budget.
Don’t buy new textbooks
Textbooks are quite expensive, and many students purchase new textbooks for their classes. Once you have your booklist, look for any used copies or even older editions. In this way, you can save money and use it for other expenses.
If you can’t find anyone on campus selling their last-semester books and there are no used books available at the bookstore, you can always check out Amazon. Amazon offers a variety of textbooks as rentals, or you can even purchase used copies.
You can also try other college student-recommended websites such as Chegg or Barnes & Noble’s textbook service.
Use student discounts to save money in college
One of the biggest benefits of student life is access to student discounts. When you are a new student, you can get deals on several things, including clothing, movie tickets, concert tickets, book stores, etc.
Whenever you try to purchase something, always first check to see if they offer a student discount. If you don’t see the advertised discount, you can still ask the retailers. You can also search online for student discounts offered.
Many websites geared at college students list retailers offering students discounts. Try to go through these lists before making a purchase. Just be careful—just because something has a student discount doesn’t necessarily mean it is the cheapest option.
Create a free checking account
If you haven’t already created a bank account, you should create a free checking account. Most checking accounts often have additional fees; however, there are many cases where banks waive these fees for college students.
Having a free checking account will set the baseline for you to save money. If you keep all your money in hand as cash, you are more likely to go through it quickly. With a separate account, you can keep your savings in the bank and keep the spending money with you. This way, you’ll be able to budget and save money throughout your college years.
Work in college
Working in college is a great opportunity for many students. If you can’t travel off-campus, there are always plenty of jobs available on-campus for students. A student job gives you extra money and prepares you for life after college. A college job is an essential experience for many students.
When working a student job, you tend to be more focused on earning money than just spending. The money you earn can be saved and used for emergencies. College jobs also teach you valuable life skills such as business communication and problem-solving. These traits are important when you graduate from college.
Apply for scholarships and grants
Scholarships are a great way to reduce the cost of going to college. You can even apply for some scholarships and grants during your college years. You can apply every year until you graduate.
Tuition fees are just one part of the amount that goes into your college education. There are several other costs, such as your housing, food and other essentials. A scholarship can reduce the financial burden and make it easier to save money.
Many colleges have scholarships that often go unclaimed or have few entries. If you dedicate your time to scholarship applications, you will find (at least) one that cuts your cost.
Consider alternatives to owning a car
Having your own car might seem like the best option; however, car ownership comes with cost. Especially if you live on campus, consider alternative options like public transportation or ride-sharing to get around and outside your campus.
Many colleges are situated centrally in town, so you don’t have to go too far off-campus to get all your necessities. You can also use a bicycle to travel these short distances.
If your college is not situated in a college town or you want to travel further away from campus, you could take advantage of ride requesting services such as Uber and Lyft. These alternative travel methods aren’t cheap, but if used infrequently, you might still end up saving money compared to car ownership/use which comes with costs such as gas, insurance, parking, and unexpected repairs.
Limit your restaurant meals
Try to avoid eating at restaurants as much as possible—take advantage of your college meal plan if you have one. Most first-year students must purchase a meal plan, which makes meals convenient and affordable. Eating out quickly adds up, taking up a huge amount of your budget.
Most college meal plans offer a variety of different eating options. You can coffee, a full meal, and everything between. If you find yourself disdaining the college coffee, instead of splurging at local coffee shops, consider investing in a good coffee maker—just make sure you’re allowed to have one if you live in a dorm. Cutting down unnecessary expenditures will help you save money.
College is an important time to learn money-saving habits. These habits can help you in the long run. There is no one right way to save money, so try different methods to see what works best for you.