College is generally one of the best times in anyone’s life. Friends, parties, sporting events, and just about anything else you would want to do are right at your fingertips. Unfortunately, millions of students per year find it difficult to simply find the money to go to school, let alone indulge in all of the tantalizing things that come with being a student. With tuition only getting higher and the cost of living going up, figuring out little ways to save money will go a long way in helping create the best college experience possible. By simply following the tips we’ve compiled below, you’ll be well on your way to keeping a healthy budget while going to school and in the future. Keep reading to see the best advice out there for saving money in college.
Top Tips For Saving Money
- Forget the Car. Most of the things you’re going to need to do in college can be accessed by foot. At worst, you can order the occasional Uber or Lyft to get you from Point A to B (probably the safer option, too!). If you need a car for a few days, you can always kindly as a friend, or take the train or bus. You’ll be saving money on insurance, gas, and any unpredictable events that could also plague a car owner throughout the year.
- Ditch the Credit Card. Okay, so you might not be able to completely ditch your credit card. BUT, you can definitely be more conscientious with what you charge to the little plastic thing. Be sure to pay off the balance in full each month and try to find cards with the lowest interest rate possible to help you save on fees.
- Remember Your Student ID. The world is chock full of discounts, and not just ones for seniors. Most restaurants in your college town and most businesses have some type of student discount, you just might need to ask. By keeping that student ID handy, you can flash it quick and enjoy some great savings at countless stores.
- Eat Smarter. Your school cafeteria might not always offer the healthiest options, but if you have some type of meal plan, they’re definitely offering the most bang for your buck. Try swiping into the cafeteria right around the time they’re switching over from breakfast to lunch. That way, you’re basically getting two meals for the cost of one swipe. You’re learning something at college after all!
- Buy Used Books or Rent. This one is an absolute no-brainer. Those psychology and science textbooks are notoriously high-priced and you’re realistically never going to look at them after you’re done with the class. There are a ton of great places to buy and rent used books-even your campus library. Take a look at any online groups for students at your school, too. Your peers are always looking to make some money back by selling books to students taking the course next semester. Chegg and Amazon are also great places to find used books and rentals.
- Find Strength in Numbers. Your friends and/or roommates are going through many of the same ups and downs financially that you are. Whether it’s a Netflix subscription or food costs, consider splitting the bill equally with your crew. Maybe you wind up paying slightly more in certain scenarios, but by splitting costs, everyone wins.
- Earn Passive Income. Whether its earning money by playing mobile games or taking surveys, or through cashback programs like Rakuten, there are easy ways to earn money in your spare time and by buying the things you’d be purchasing regardless.
- Consider Your Housing Options Carefully. The prevailing thought tends to be that living off-campus saves money. While it definitely can be the case, you need to really break down all the associated costs with living in an apartment versus a dorm. You may be splitting costs with roommates, but you may also be paying for cable, internet, heat, hot water, gas/electric, and other utilities that you didn’t even think about when you signed your lease. Distance from campus may also drive up your costs as you’ll be paying for gas or public transportation. Living off-campus can be a very viable option, but think things through and always plan on the higher end of your spending estimates being true before making your final decision about where to live.
- Look for Those Scholarships. It’s no kidding that there is literally hundreds of millions of dollars of unclaimed scholarship money available each year. It may take some time and digging, but apply for as many scholarships as you can to drive down your tuition costs.
- Make Your Interest Payments. If you’ve got student loans, paying them while you’re in school may seem to fly in the face of why you got the loan in the first place. However, by paying down interest while in school, you will literally save tens of thousands of dollars in the long-run.
There’s No Magic Formula
And that’s just fine! There’s no one definite way to save money while you’re in school. Some options above may sound perfect for you while others might not be viable at all. The best approach for you may be different from the next person, but by keeping your educational goals and monetary goals in focus and doing the best you can, you’ll find yourself having success more times than not. College really does fly by, and by creating great financial habits while you’re in school, you’ll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of success.