College life can be expensive.
Between the tuition and book fees, rent, food, and phone bills, you’ve got a lot to think about financially.
College is a great time to learn about yourself, try new things, and meet new people. But it’s a little tough to do when the budget gets tight!
Follow these smart college tips for saving money, and you can start your future off on the right financial foot, and still have money to spend on a fun night out every once in a while!
Money Management for College Students
1. Consider Housing Costs
When you’re planning for college, remember to factor in travel and housing costs.
If you’re not living at home, housing will be one of your biggest expenses.
Consider how possible it is to live at home, rent-free, or at an extremely reduced rent. And don’t forget the potential expenses for the commute from home to classes every day.
If living at home isn’t an option, because of geography, consider an apartment with roommates, rather than spending money on a dorm.
Dorms come with an inflated price, thanks to their convenience to school.
So join a few room share sites, and try apartment living to save cash. Just be sure to look for places that include utility costs!
2. Make Use Of Your Student Discounts
If you’re in a university or college town, you’d be surprised where you qualify for student discounts.
Clothing, electronics, even the grocery stores often have special deals if you bring your student card. Get to know the area, and what offers are available to you as a student.
Sometimes, even pubs and clubs have special student-friendly discount nights.
You can save a lot more than you expect, and it really helps with the monthly bills, when you know which days of the week you can catch a break!
Read also: 4 Money-Saving Rules Every Student Should Live By
3. Ditch The Car
If you own a car, the second biggest monthly bill is generally your car payments.
Between fluctuating gas prices, insurance, and car payments, keeping your car on the road is a huge drain on your finances.
There are better ways to get around. Try car sharing with roommates, join a carpool at your school, or make use of public transportation, which is proven to be less expensive than car payments on a year-by-year basis.
4. Save on Books and Equipment
Books and equipment are always expensive, no matter the field you’re studying. Textbooks aren’t cheap, so it’s a good idea to get them used when you can.
Most college bookstores have a buyback policy. If the book is in good shape, the school will buy it back and sell it at a hugely reduced rate.
You can also join textbook sharing communities online, where former students gather to swap textbooks.
Laptops, tablets, and other tech gear are essential for college success. It helps keep you connected to your classmates and your profs and makes work a lot easier.
Just like you can get a huge deal on your books, there are online retailers that specialize in cheap and refurbished tablets and laptop computers that can save you hundreds of dollars. Especially with student discounts!
5. Find Cheap Ways To Socialize
College should be a time of forging relationships and making connections. But it should also be a time to try new things, and have the odd adventure every once in a while!
Most of your friends are on a tight budget too, and they’ll love the opportunity to find a cheaper and easier way to hang out.
Watch movies online at home, instead of going out. Hang out at the beach instead of a pool. Go for a run, instead of paying for a gym membership.
Throw parties at home, instead of at a club, and go out for dessert or coffee, instead of dinner. There are plenty of little ways to hang out, no matter what your budget.
6. Monetize Your Skills
Keeping to a budget is all well and good. But you can’t draw blood from a stone, right?
The best way to ensure you’ve got cash on hand is to make more of it. If your class schedule makes working tough, try finding ways to monetize the skills you already have.
If you play an instrument, you can advertise teaching lessons.
If you are a decent writer, you might choose to help with essay writing and formatting.
Your campus may even offer admin and tutoring work to top students. So keep your grades up, and put your name out there. You’d be surprised how easy it is to make extra cash!
7. Keep a Budget
It seems like a no-brainer, but an important part of living the frugal student life is making a budget and sticking to it.
Carefully document expenses every month. Keep receipts. Come tax time, you might be surprised at the refunds being a student entitles you to.
Hold on to any student loan documentation, and make a note on your calendar for when bills are due. That means no late payment fees, which saves you money overall.
Make sure to leave some room in the budget for spending and saving when you can. That way, if something does happen, you won’t be left with your accounts completely emptied.
8. Look Into Your Tuition
Student loans can follow you for years. But they don’t have to.
Smaller colleges tend to have lower tuitions, and often are more likely to offer scholarships and bursaries, due to less competition.
If you’re determined to go to your dream school, familiarize yourself with the finance department. They may be able to help you find scholarships or grants you’re not aware of, to help you in your studies.
Always check with your school’s student loan office for updates on your government-issued loans. Policy changes can happen at any time, and impact the funding you’re entitled to.
College is expensive. Your student loans might lead to debt, but your living expenses don’t have to. With these few simple tips, you’ll find you’re able to enjoy college life without worrying so much about bills and debt. Best of all, you’ll develop great financial tips and tools that will see you through not just college life, but your life beyond.
About The Author
Ken Hyden is an avid tech geek, incurable entrepreneur, and charming introvert. He owns several online businesses, including the popular Bestseekers.com.
Stock Photo from WAYHOME studio @ Shutterstock