When people tell you that college is the most exciting time of your life, they fail to mention that having fun is also very expensive. If you’re a college student and don’t have a good system, you are about to have a myriad of troubles with your budget. The internet is simply filled with advice that helps you save that money. If you take a peak, you’ll find saving money tips like ‘don’t buy your textbooks but borrow them instead’, or ‘don’t go with your friends to the cinemas, rent a DVD and watch it at home’.
Who does this at college, really? Textbooks are obligatory, but even though the cinema isn’t, you sure won’t lock yourself inside your home and never go out with friends. That being said, you need a smart way to save some money or make extra money in college. This is actually doable and this article will tell you how.
1. Save the Money You Have
Most college students have some money in them when they start college. Whether it is your savings from a summer job or a little bit you got from different members of your family, you probably have something in your pocket or on your bank account.
It’s best that you start there – with the money you already have. Save that money by following these steps:
- Find a free checking account and put your money there (banks often waive their fees for students)
- Get a no-fee credit card (available to students)
- Don’t defer or be late on your student loan payments
These may be obvious, but if you actually follow them, you can use the trick for all the money that pass through your fingers during college years.
2. Get a Part-Time Job
Most college students get a part-time job to earn something extra and cover their expenses. This isn’t just good for your budget, but will also teach you responsibility and other life skills. Also, it will look great in your resume when you finish college and are ready to get a full-time job.
3. Apply for a Scholarship
You don’t have to think of this in high school. There are plenty of opportunities to apply for a grant or a scholarship in your first, second, or any other year of college. Even if you don’t believe you’ll get it, apply for different scholarships. Some have few entries because of such thinking, so you might get lucky after all.
4. Save on College Expenses
It is no secret that college is expensive. So, in order to learn how to make a budget, you should first determine what it is that makes you lose most of your money. Naturally, the first place to start is your college expenses. Here is how you can save on these expenses:
- Use the library instead of buying all the books, software, programs, etc.
- Get used textbooks instead of new ones, or rent them
- When you’re done with them, resell the textbooks to earn some money
- Ask for computer software and hardware education discount at the store
- Print your papers on campus
- Rely on technology for note-taking and reading (a Kindle can be a great investment)
5. Save on Drinks and Food
This doesn’t mean that you should eat less or eat junk food. On the opposite, you can eat healthier and better when you make the right money choices. Check out the college meal plan at your campus, dine in the good dining halls, find the happy hours at healthy restaurants, enjoy restaurant promos and finally – learn how to cook your own food!
6. Cut Back on Alcohol
Unless you are a nerd or hate alcohol, it’s probably a big part of your college life. College students tend to drink often and a lot. If you take the time to calculate how much you spend on booze every month, you might be shocked with the results.
We don’t say that you should stop having a drink or two with your friends, but try not to do it too often or too much. Drinking can seriously break a budget.
7. Avoid the Temptations
Temptations are all around. You’ll be tempted to buy from many shops and advertisements, dine in classy restaurants, not to mention join every party you hear of. But, this is the time to get serious and responsible. Don’t be too strict to yourself, but try to avoid the temptations whenever possible. You need to save some money to pay off those loans and invest in your education or business. For example, writers at Edu Birdie are currently saving money to start their own business.
8. Find Student Discounts
There are so many places that offer discounts for students today, you’ll hardly pay the full price for anything. But, you need to show more interest and find what these places are and where they’re located. If you need to buy something, look for a store that has a student discount and buy it there. If you want to dine in a restaurant or watch a movie, ask around and see where they have a discount for students.
9. Save on Transportation
You’ll have to move around and very often, you will have to spend some money to do so. You can’t be walking around all the time, but what you can do is use transportation wisely. Here is how you can do this:
- Find out if your campus has free shuttles that will get you around campus or home
- If not, get a student pass and use public transportation instead of your car
- Sell your car to avoid the temptation, cut down on gas and maintenance expenses, and get some extra cash
- Find a place close to campus to cut down on travel expenses
10. Save on Living Expenses
Finally, you can also save on living expenses. Instead of living on your own, find roommates and split your cost. Moreover, don’t spend a fortune on decorating. Be creative and find some interesting DIY ideas. After all, you’ll probably not live in the same place once you graduate, so you really don’t have to invest a lot in decorating.
Of course, there’s also the option to live at home if your home is close to your college. You won’t get the freedom you’d have if you live with roommates, but it will certainly be cheaper.
College years are memorable and exciting, but unless you learn how to save your money, they’ll become extremely challenging. You don’t have to get rid of all the commodities, but you should definitely reduce the small luxuries that slowly kill off your budget.
We hope that these tips will help make you more financially independent.
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