Affording student loan payments and college tuition can already be quite a challenge. This guest post by Bob Lotich, who writes for ChristianPF.com, shares some great ideas to cut costs for those of us facing education-related expenses.
When you’re balancing work, school, and your social life, it can be difficult to stay on top of your budget. Just when you sit down to crunch some numbers, another assignment pops into your head that you forgot to do, or a friend invites you over for popcorn and a movie. Whatever the case, saving money doesn’t have to be such an overwhelming chore if you put these 10 tips to good use. Once you get the hang of things, you’ll barely notice that you’re doing the finances! It’ll just be a part of everyday student living.
How College Students Can Save Money: 10 Money Saving Tips:
1. Monitor your monthly expenses.
Every month, you need to sit down and write down all expenses you might have during the month. For example, this may include:
- Room and board
- School supplies (books, computer costs, etc)
- Personal (Hair cuts, toiletries, etc)
- Gifts/charitable giving
- Emergency fund contributions
Make sure that your expenses are less than your projected income for the month. If you have a variable income, it would be a good idea to project income equal to the worst financial month you’ve had in the past 6 months. Be conservative in your estimates, you don’t want to get half way through the month and realize you’re out of cash!
2. Buy and borrow used textbooks.
Textbooks can be expensive — very expensive! When you’re spending hundreds of dollars on new textbooks every few months, that really adds up! It can be easy to walk into the bookstore and grab what you need, but with a little extra effort, you can save thousands of dollars over the course of your education.
Find any students who have previously taken the class you’re attending. Ask your teachers if you can use older editions of books, and borrow as many textbooks as possible. The investment of your time into finding bargain literature is well worth the effort. Maybe even consider renting textbooks with a site like Chegg.com. You can also check out these Chegg coupon codes and helpful links.
3. Get a debit card that pays rewards
Many college students start themselves off to a terrible financial start by getting into credit card debt. You can avoid this and earn some great rewards by using a cash back debit card that will pay you for using it.
4. Dine at the cafeteria.
Fast food and eating out can really drain your bank account. Instead, try getting deals at the cafeteria! Many colleges will offer discount cards for low income students and bundle meal deals if you ask.
5. Seek student discounts around town.
Even though you’re on a strict budget, you have to still find time for fun! Going to the movies can be expensive — try asking for a student discount! Theaters and entertainment venues often provide a healthy discount for those dedicated to their education.
You can also find great discounts on insurance from your local agent. Occasionally, insurance companies will provide discounts with proof of high grades.
Everywhere you go, ask if there are any student discounts. You’ll find that you can save a great deal of money on computers, entertainment, insurance, food, and more!
6. Find flexible, high-income jobs.
To help pay your tuition, fees, and other miscellaneous costs, finding a great side job can be the difference between failure and success. It’s important to seek something that doesn’t have set hours — you choose when to work! School is your main focus. Organize side jobs that you can easily place on your calendar.
7. Ask for roommate accountability.
Sticking to your budget isn’t always a piece of cake. Sometimes, it can be more like pulling teeth. Few people are self-motivated, and most need some sort of accountability. If you have a roommate, explain to them the financial plan you’re on and ask them to check in on you every so often. Make sure this is something they are happy doing, and you’ll find more motivation to stay on track!
8. Stay busy, spend less!
One of the best ways to save money in college is to stay busy with your schoolwork! The more involved you are in activities that don’t require expense, it’ll be easier to save those dollars! Try joining clubs and sports that won’t break the bank.
9. Keep transportation simple and inexpensive.
To save big on transportation, live on campus. The less you have to travel the better, as vehicle maintenance, fuel, car insurance, and other costs can represent a large portion of your budget. If you have to travel, try a bicycle and only drive when absolutely necessary. Make use of the resources you have around you!
10. Actively seek career opportunities as you learn!
Just because you’re in school doesn’t mean you have to wait for graduation to start exploring career opportunities. Attend occupational fairs and seminars. Talk with business owners in the community. Network! Network! Network! The more groundwork you do in college, the better off you’ll be when you hit the streets with your resume.
It’s admirable that you’re attending college, but merely attending is not enough. By utilizing these top 10 tips, you’ll be well on your way to greater financial health and will have built a solid foundation you can stand on throughout the rest of your life. Your education needs to be a beneficial process. Don’t let mismanagement of your personal finances weigh down your opportunities. You can be successful. Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning and positive financial habits. You’ll be so glad you did.
Do you have any other money saving tips for college students?
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