“I am a sophomore, and I do my best to balance my study and private life. Tons of homework and bills for textbooks make me depressed sometimes, nothing to speak of other aspects of my college life: food, rent, and all those payments. Plus, I want to spend time with my friends and girlfriend, go to cafes and cinemas, and attend parties! After all, YOLO! No?” (Jacob, 20)
Yeah, Jacob, I’ve been there, too.
Parents, loans, credit cards – they were all my best friends. It seems I wasn’t alone in the problem, too: according to the 2017 UK National Student Money Survey, 8 out of 10 students worry about having enough money. They also mentioned rent, food, and social activities as the three most cost-intensive fields.
What surprised me most is that, a lot of students don’t understand their loan agreements or repayment terms. When I was in college, I thought I was that only one who couldn’t get how all that financial stuff worked out. Now I know I wasn’t alone!
Now to be serious:
Students need help with money management. The Web is full of articles sharing tips like “don’t eat out,” “rent DVDs instead of going to cinemas,” “don’t buy textbooks but borrow them from senior students,” etc. Really? Do they believe students won’t eat out or go to cinema with friends? Yea, right…
Students these days are thinking outside the box. I know that for sure because I work with them. In fact, students like Jacob inspired me to write this article to reveal unconventional tips on saving money that would help him and his peers make ends meet.
5 Tips To Save Money In College
To save money in college, consider the following:
1. Develop Good Habits
Maggie McGrath from Forbes shares tips on developing habits for college students that will not only help them to manage money while studying, but also teach them how to save in the real world after graduation.
Among them include, but are not limited to:
- re-selling used books;
- living with roommates to share rent;
- using summer money all throughout the year;
- walking to class instead of using transportation;
- taking part in activities – like student flash mobs – to get experience, not things;
- taking help from org, ZenPen.io, and other free tools to save time and money on college assignments.
2. Get Organized
Most students need about four years to earn their bachelor’s degree (shame on me, but I needed six). With high tuition fees, wouldn’t it be better for young people to get organized and plan carefully to graduate as soon as they can? After all, it may help them save money in college.
Tracking ALL possible expenses can help you get an understanding of how much you’ll really be spending. Afterwards, you can consider which ones are worth cutting out of your budget entirely.
3. Use Money Calendars
With dozens of online resources and mobile apps available, it would be great to try traditional paper calendars again. This will allow you to write about plans and other activities related to money.
I used such calendars to take note of:
- bill payments dates
- dates for scholarships
- dates for social activities that need money (parties, movies, etc.)
- upcoming expenses related to school (textbooks, courses, etc.)
4. Don’t Ignore Coupons
This is my favorite trick to save money in college! I tried to find and use them whenever I could.
Many websites provide discount codes for different deals that are tied to online applications or browser extensions. Just activate them to get the notifications.
Isn’t that enough reason to go shopping online? Check Coupons.com listings more than a hundred offers, or try the extension called Honey to save cash.
5. Use Apps
Millennials are also known as the mobile generation. I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find a student who doesn’t have a smartphone, laptop, or another device that caters to apps. Use them to help you save money.
These are a few must-tries:
- Mint can help you create budgets and even track your credit score.
- RetailmeNot will help you find coupons and cash back opportunities.
- Doxo can schedule your payments with just one login.
There are dozens of apps to help monitor transactions or check your bank balance. Just decide on the features you need and have fun looking for the best one.
Back in college, I was always thinking outside of the box and being creative and inventive – sorry, but if I don’t sing myself, who will? – with saving money. With my financial illiteracy, I was yet able to budget on everything.
I lived with a roommate to share rent. I cooked at home to take food with me rather than to go out for lunch every day. Plus, I never bought anything without asking for discounts.
I think it was because I understood I had no skills in money management, so I just tried to compensate this gap. But as a result, I have many tricks up my sleeve.
Among them are:
- Don’t buy textbooks. Instead, borrow them from your library. Or, you can rent them, which is less expensive anyway.
- Don’t be lazy to work while in college.
- Attend free events on campus for entertainment.
- Choose low-cost hobbies, such as reading or running.
- Pay in cash. This trick helps you avoid the impression that you don’t spend much money as you don’t see it.
How about you, do you have any good tips to save money in college? Don’t hesitate to share them in the comments section. Let your peers know the best ways to cut costs in college today.