Often times, spending money for students in college is sparse. Between paying bills, buying textbooks/meal plans, and paying tuition, there’s not much money left over. There are those lucky students whose parents pay for everything for them or give them a weekly allowance, but even that can be hard to budget. And if you take advantage of your parents, they won’t keep giving you money. But it’s easier than you think to cut back and save some money to have on the weekends. Here are some tips, with information from Fastweb and Howstuffworks, to help you budget and have cash in your wallet (if only a little).
Buy used textbooks or share with a friend, and sell them back. A great source for comparing textbook prices can be found at studentrate!
2. Alternative Transport
Find alternative transport instead of having a car. Walk, bike, take a subway or bus, there’s always alternatives.
3. Meal Plans
Choose your meal plan carefully based on how much you eat and how often. If you don’t eat 21 meals a week, don’t get that plan. There are lots of options for a reason.
4. Student Checking Accounts
Open a student checking account, which usually waives a lot of fees, and keep careful records about what you spend to avoid over-drafting. Look for ones that offer you interest to help you earn some money over the years.
5. Credit Cards
If you have a student credit card, pay it back on time. You don’t want to have that bad credit for the rest of your life. But be careful of which card you decide to get, you don’t want to apply for one that will cost you all of your money in fees.
Pay all of your bills on time. This avoids late fees.
7. Find FREE events
Find fun, free things to do like play sports in a park, have a picnic with friends, or cook dinner instead of going out to a restaurant with a date.
8. Cell phone plans
If you can’t be on a family cell phone plan, then get a basic plan that has unlimited texting and free calls. Studentrate has discounts at Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint.
9. Grocery shopping
Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry or you’ll end up buying a lot of food you don’t need. (Yes, I have done this.) Avoid impulse buying in grocery stores and anywhere else.
10. Student Discounts
Ask places if they have student discounts and shop at those places. You’d be surprised at how many places offer discounts when you have a student ID.
Make meals with your friends and split the grocery bill. I know from experience that most recipes you make will be enough for more than just one person anyway. And it’s more fun to cook with someone than by yourself. Be sure to use leftovers!
12. Buy bulk
You can freeze things like chicken and hamburgers for a long time, and you’ll always have something easy to just pull out of the freezer in the morning to let thaw before dinner.
13. Unnecessary spending
Don’t buy unnecessary things. I’m referring to things like books, notebooks, etc. Most teachers now allow you to bring laptops or tablets that you can take notes on in class, and if you’re only using a book for a couple of weeks, it’s easy to just rent it from your local public library.
Sell things you don’t need anymore. This will help you earn a little extra cash and there are tons of sites like Craigslist, and even Facebook groups, designed to help you sell it.
15. Live off campus
Living off campus can actually be less expensive than living on campus depending on the choices you make. Live with other people so you split expenses like rent, bills, and food; and be sure to conserve. Don’t take hour-long showers or leave the lights on when you’re not using them.
16. Spring Break
I know everyone wants to go on the Spring Break trip to a beach resort, but there are lots of other ways to get to go somewhere cool and not have to pay tons of money. Look into volunteer trips to places like Costa Rica.
17. Drink water
It’s free at restaurants and I’m sure every college in America has water fountains. Splurge on a water bottle, mine was only $12, and it lasts you way longer than a soda or plastic water bottles.
Use things like Pandora or Spotify that you can use for free. Or if you have the new iPhone update, they now have iTunes radio.
It may be trendy to have a Starbucks logo on your cup, but you won’t be looking trendy when you have to mooch off your friends because you spent $7 on a coffee every day.
20. Be an RA
Be a resident advisor, and you can get free room and board. This isn’t a viable option for everyone, of course, but it can help financially.
21. If you have the time, find a job.
There are a lot of on-campus jobs that don’t require you to do a lot, like working the service desk at the library. This will give you time to do your homework. Or find a local restaurant or store that’s hiring.
The more scholarships you win, the more money you won’t have to pay for college, allowing you to spend it elsewhere. Studentrate has scholarships you can apply to here.
Don’t spend money on costly cable packages. Are you really going to use DVR? Do you need to have every single sports channel? Just because you want it doesn’t mean that you need it.
Cut out vices – things like smoking, excessive drinking, etc. Not only are they bad for your health, they cost a lot too!
25. Limit how many times you eat out.
I know we all get tired of the cafeteria food or making food for ourselves, but it really helps save you a lot of money to avoid eating out at restaurants except for special occasions.
Really, the best thing you can do to save money is to stay on top of your spending habits. If you know how much money you have, you’ll know how much you can spend. And if you notice that you’re making a lot of unnecessary purchases, you’ll be able to (hopefully) reel it back. If you aren’t paying attention, however, you’ll end up still making those impulse buys and won’t have the money to pay your bills, resulting it many more problems.