Countdown to College:
7 smart ways to save in college
If you’re reading this blog, we applaud you, because that means you are on the path to continuing your education. Ongoing education and training are great ways to develop yourself professionally and keep your skills and talents on an upward trajectory.
However, it can also be expensive and difficult to manage the numerous costs of higher education. But don’t despair, it can be done. You can save and finish your degree or certificate with less debt if you plan ahead and stay focused.
So here we go, 7 smart ways to save in college:
- Buy used or rent text books
Second year students may have a rental/borrow option, so check out dorm and community campus postings for these book listings. This helps two-fold because you’re supplementing another student at a low cost option to buying your books outright.
Another option is to look into bookstores with used/rental options. The price of a used book can be cut in half or more. Rental may also be offered, which means you’re not stuck with a $200 biology book which might have a new edition published the year after, rendering it outdated and unusable.
Here are some online rental/used book retailers to consider:
- Barnes and Noble – (they offer used book listings from smaller book stores and outside sellers)
- Meal Plan
Nothing cuts into your finances quicker than shopping for food or splurging when you’re hungry. Lack of planning ahead can lead to overbuying a box of tacos you can’t finish and then you’re left with soggy leftovers that are less than appealing the next day. It’s money in the trash.
Easy tip: make a meal plan. It’s really not that hard. Take time to make a shopping list and get only what you need. Avoid buying groceries that you can’t finish before they spoil. Be sure to pick whole foods that will last and are easy options to grab on the go. In-season fruits and veggies are relatively inexpensive, quick and easy. This also helps ensure you’re eating healthy and reduces the temptation for late-nigh fast food runs or eating top ramen for all of your meals near the end of the month.
- Budget, budget, budget
Make a budget, it only takes a few minutes to run through your income and expenses to determine how much you can spend and where you should spend it. Pro tip: this helps reduce impulse buys because you already know that the $30 Big Joe Bean Bag is $10 over your “Fun Stuff Budget” for the week.
- Work Study/Internship
Many of the internships/work study opportunities are tailored to students. These opportunities can be a great way to earn extra money. The hours are usually flexible because they know you’re a student and the pay can be a stipend for extra income or credited to your tuition, helping you finance your studies.
- Carpool/Public Transit/Walk/Bike
Transportation can be costly, the fluctuation of gas prices or vehicle maintenance can really gouge your wallet so look into carpool options if you’re off campus. Students with similar schedules or routes may be interested in saving money by sharing a ride. Public transportation is always a great option and it’s usually cheaper for students; some school IDs allow for discounts or even free rides on public transportation. Finally, if you live on campus or close to campus you could consider walking or biking to class – another way to stay healthy and active! Bonus.
- Free materials from campus clinics/resources
There are tons of student resource groups both on and off campus. Be sure to see what your community offers. Often, universities give away free products/materials to students or offer discounts and vouchers.
Here are some resource groups to look for:
- Trio/Student Support Services
- Community Clinics and University Partnerships
- Minority Resource Groups
- Christian Community Resources
- Student Family Aid
- Student ID
Use your Student ID! This puppy will come in handy so use it as often as you can. Many times restaurants, salons and stores will offer a discount for students or even take university credit/currency from your student account. You won’t be able to get that student discount forever, so take advantage of it while you can!
And there you go - a handful of ways to save during college! The littlest amount saved is still that much more in your pocket and that much less in loans. Smart.