When you’re a college student, the last thing you want to think about is saving money. At this stage in life, it feels as though there are a million things that cost money.
Not to mention campus activities, dorm parties, and social events don’t exactly come cheap either. However, as with anything else in life, you can not get something for anything.
In order to maintain a balance between work, school, and social activities while living on your own for the first time, you need to be frugal with your spending.
This can be difficult at times but definitely worth the effort as it will lead to greater long-term financial stability.
As a college student, there are plenty of expenses that can be cut back on or eliminated altogether so that you have more cash available for essential expenses like books and tuition.
The following are some tips on how you can save money as a college student:
Create a Budget
The first step toward saving money as a college student is to create a budget. Writing down all of your expenses will enable you to identify where you can save money without feeling like you’re being deprived.
Once you have a clear picture of how much money you’re spending each month, you’ll be able to identify areas where you can cut back in order to free up more cash for saving.
When creating a budget for your college expenses, try to keep the following items in mind:
The cost of books is one of the biggest expenses that college students face each semester. The amount you spend on books will vary depending on your program of study. There are a few different ways you can save money on books:
- Textbooks are often available and used through websites such as Amazon or Chegg. You can also rent used textbooks from your campus bookstore.
- Keep in mind that the money you spend on books is an investment in your future and should be treated as such. Rather than splurging on brand new, expensive textbooks, purchase used books and save the money for something else.
Eating out can quickly add up to be a major expense so it’s important to reduce the amount of money you spend eating out. There are plenty of ways to save money on food and eat healthier meals at home. Some ideas include:
- Buying in bulk. Many grocery items can be bought in bulk and stored in your dorm room or kitchenette. This will help to reduce the amount you spend on food each month.
- Eating more meals at home. This will not only reduce the amount you spend on food each month but will also allow you to save money on dining hall meals. Eating at home is healthier and less expensive since you have more control over what ingredients go into your meals.
Track Your Spending
Once your budget is set, track your spending to see where your money is going. This will give you an accurate picture of where your money is going and enable you to make adjustments as necessary.
There are a number of apps and websites that make it easy to track your spending. Alternatively, you can use a notebook and pen to keep track of your expenses.
This method is not as convenient as the other options but it’s a good way to get in the habit of tracking your spending.
Make a habit of eating food at home
It’s easy for college students to fall into the habit of eating out for every meal. Dining halls sometimes become monotonous, and it may seem like it’s less expensive to eat out than to eat at the dining hall.
However, eating out for every meal can quickly add up to be a major expense. In some cases, it can even be more expensive than eating at the dining hall.
To save money, make a habit of eating food at home. This will not only reduce the amount you spend on food each month but will also allow you to save money on dining hall meals.
Eating at home is healthier and less expensive since you have more control over what ingredients go into your meals.
Plan ahead for textbooks
The average college student spends $1,200 a year on textbooks. It’s easy to rack up a large bill when purchasing textbooks since many of them are available in print format only.
Fortunately, there are ways to save money on textbooks and avoid racking up a huge bill. One of the best things that you can do is plan ahead.
Start looking for textbooks as soon as your syllabus is released. If your syllabus lists the name of the textbook you’ll be using, start looking for it online.
Some textbooks are listed by ISBN number but most of the time, it’s easier to search for the title. This will enable you to find the cheapest option for purchasing the book.
You can also use websites like Chegg or Amazon to rent textbooks. This can be a good option if you don’t think you’ll need the book after the course is over.
Walk to class Or Ride A Bike
Depending on the distance between your dorm room and the place where you attend classes, walking can be a great way to reduce transportation costs.
If walking is an option, try to use it to get to class. Not only will this save you money but it will also provide you with time to decompress after a long day at school.
Another option for saving money on transportation is to ride a bike to class. If you live close enough to walk and your campus has decent weather throughout the year, this is an excellent option for saving money.
Keep in mind that it may be necessary to purchase a bike lock to secure your bike when you arrive at class.
Pack Your Lunch
It’s easy to get used to eating lunch out and overlooking the amount of money this can cost. Eating at home and packing your lunch can help to reduce the amount of money you spend on food.
This will not only save you money but it will also allow you to be in control of what ingredients go into your food. While there are a number of ways to save money by packing your lunch, there are also a few things to keep in mind:
- Be creative. While it’s important to keep an eye on your expenses, you shouldn’t feel as though you can’t eat well. There are plenty of ways to make inexpensive, healthy meals that are just as good as the ones you get at restaurants.
- Don’t fall into the trap of purchasing expensive snacks. Many convenience stores sell overpriced snacks so avoid buying from these places and make your own food instead.
Negotiate your rent.
If your rent is more than you can comfortably afford, try to negotiate with your landlord. Tell them what you’re able to pay and ask if they would be willing to reduce the amount due.
Be honest and upfront about your financial situation so they know exactly why you’re asking for a reduction. It’s important that you don’t be pushy when negotiating with your landlord.
If they aren’t willing to work with you, look into other properties where you might be able to get a better deal. Alternatively, you can try to find a roommate to help bring your expenses down.
This can be a great option for bringing down your monthly expenses. When looking for a roommate, try to find someone who has similar financial circumstances as yourself. This will help you to avoid disagreements about money and who’s expected to pay for what.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Each year, there are thousands of college students who experience financial hardship that leads to debt and delayed graduation. If you are having trouble affording the cost of college, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are a variety of programs available that can provide you with financial assistance.
The best thing you can do is to be proactive and start looking for assistance early. This will help you to get everything in order before you’re too deep in debt.