A lot of us have been there; you’re a college student, left alone to your own devices and not a clue in the world about what should do. It sucks, it’s intimidating and worst of all you feel like you’re on your own. The good news is that others that came before you know exactly what you’re going through and decided to give you a piece of advice where saving money is concerned. These days living expenses and tuition costs keep rising, creating a complex maze of financial decisions that students find themselves having a hard time navigating through.
Feels like I hit home? Well don’t worry, here are some of the tips that you will find very helpful:
Make your budget
Before you can even begin to start on saving, you need to note down your income and expenditure. Some students rely on their parents for income, some part-time or full-time jobs. Knowing how much you spend on food, transport, rent, medical expenses, entertainment, and other utilities will help you come up with how much you spend. Once you’re done, start figuring out what is essential for your survival and what is just extra and cut back on them.
Use student ID
I can’t stress hard enough about how much having a student ID is important. With a student ID, you can enjoy a lot of campus amenities free of charge like, gym, library, medical insurance, to name a few. Your status as a student won’t help you inside campus alone. There are other facilities, brands (Apple discounts for students) and enterprises you can use to your advantage out there, such as vendors, restaurants, banking services. Case in point, your student ID can get you a lot of discounts is used wisely.
Cook your own food
Let’s get one thing straight here, ordering take outs, pizzas, a trip to Starbucks isn’t going to help you save money. It’s a bad habit that will cost you in more ways than financial only. Instead, try and cook your own food, keep the leftovers in your mini-fridge (if you have one), so you can eat later. On the other hand, if you have a meal plan, then use it instead of skipping some meals that will force you to order takeout later.
Use the local library/buy used books
If you can’t access the school’s library, then you can take advantage of the local library for free. This goes for textbooks; you can spend less on used books than buying brand new (you can go as far as to borrow books from your friends). Some colleges offer rental programs, ask for them. Avoid the campus bookstore if possible as the prices are bound to be higher.
Another alternative is online websites like Chegg or Barnes & Noble’s that offer rental textbooks for a fee. Amazon also sells used books if you are still out of options.
Choose cheaper housing
As a new student, you’ll find living in campus dorms is less expensive than living off campus. Take advantage of this as some schools have a limited number of dorms. If you absolutely have to live off campus, then you can find a roommate and split the rent.
Use local public transport
Parking tickets, speeding tickets, fuel costs, repair costs, insurance costs, overall maintenance, all these don’t seem like something you want to get yourself into. The public transit, on the other hand, is cheaper and if you have friends, then you can always borrow one of their cars.
All the budgeting will be for naught if you don’t work on your spending. If you have a credit card (which is quite easy to get as a student), set a spending limit that is within your level.
If you absolutely have to start, then spending wisely. Use coupons, buy things in bulk, especially clothes. If it’s a laptop you want, you’re better off getting a refurbished laptop than buying a brand new one from the shop.
Start clearing your student loans early
One of the biggest obstacles to a student’s future is debt. As a student, you are entitled to student loans to help you pay for your school, tuition, and other costs associated with campus life. In the end, most students end up with a large sum of student debt that they have to pay. Funnel, however little extra cash you have into paying your loans early. If possible, use additional earnings or some of the savings you make from working the extra jobs. Every penny counts in the long run, and you won’t regret the results.
To some students, campus life means nothing without its parties, concerts, shows. Most of these are entirely free, and you can keep yourself entertained and still save. A lot of these if not all events are posted on the school website, community pages, flyers, or through word of mouth
Other students prefer spending their time entertaining themselves indoors. So instead of getting cable, there are other cheaper ways to get entertained with your favorite TV shows and movies such as Netflix and Hulu. Subscriptions like Netflix even have a one-month free subscription before charging you a few bucks a month.
Work hard on your studies
All the entertainment, jobs, and other activities can take away a lot of focus from your academics. The result is failing to complete the usual four-year degree course but instead, spend more years due to repeating semesters. Every year you spend in school due to flunking is another year you have to spend as a student. So, stay focused in classes, use the school’s full resources that are at your disposal such as tutoring, academic advising. You can even join or form a study group that can help you stay on track in your studies.
Making the right financial decisions can be a lifesaver for a student who is looking to spend less and save more. Having the right tips can make a difference between having a future filled with debts or living comfortably and even earning a little extra on the side. Earn more, spend wisely, save the rest, that should be your mantra from now own and everything will work out for the better.