College is an excellent choice to learn a skill in a practical setting and gain hands-on experience to bring into the workforce. Going to college is also a significant investment that can plunge a student into debt before they have a chance to make a decent income.
It is essential to enjoy the college experience as much as possible, but it is also important to make prudent choices to set yourself up for success in the future.
Learning skills like budgeting and becoming financially literate will ensure your debt doesn’t weigh you down once you graduate.
The following are 10 strategies for college students to save money with work and self-discipline.
Live at Home if You Can
If you are going to college close to home, and if your parents will allow it, stay at home if you can. It is tempting to gain that independence, but you could be spending a lot of unnecessary money doing so.
Living on campus is quite pricey, and student houses can be crowded and costly. Even if you must pay rent at home, it will most likely be a lot less than if you were living elsewhere. You will also be able to save money on food, utilities, and other bills.
The more you can avoid sinking further into debt by making small sacrifices, the better off you will be in the long run. If you cannot live at home, finding roommates will help divide the expenses, so you do not have to pay for everything yourself.
Avoid Having a Car
Having a car is excellent and convenient, especially if you have a bit of a commute to your school. However, if you can avoid having a car when in college, it would save you a tremendous amount of money. Having a vehicle usually means paying high rates for parking, plus gas, insurance, and repairs.
Many schools will offer either a discounted student bus pass or include a bus pass in your tuition. While you are paying for it one way or another, it feels like it does not cost anything because you are not paying for it outright. Take advantage of getting this public transportation at a low rate as much as you can.
If you need to get somewhere faster, many other options depend on where you live. You can, of course, rely on Uber or Lyft in a pinch. It would also be wise to research whether there are any car-sharing services in your area. These are becoming much more popular as people do not want to own cars like they used to.
Car sharing essentially allows you to rent a car for an affordable price. There are designated pick-up locations where you go to get your vehicle. You pay based on how far you are traveling and how long you plan on having the car. There are memberships where you can pay a monthly fee to get great rates on these services.
Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Being a student can have many perks. Many banks have student accounts where you will pay little to no fees for having accounts open. Depending on where you live, you may also get a discounted bus pass if you must rely on public transit to reach places.
A little bit of research into local businesses in your area can go a long way to finding discounts on things you might need or want, such as food, restaurants, clothing, and entertainment. Some businesses will have special days when you can get a student discount.
If you cannot find anything definitive regarding a student discount for a place you like to frequent, it does not hurt to ask. Just ensure you always have your student identification on you.
Apply for as Many Scholarships and Grants as You Can
Scholarships and grants get underutilized more than you might think. Many colleges offer their portal to apply for specific scholarships and grants through their website. There are also many external websites to apply for scholarships and grants of all kinds.
It sometimes takes a little bit of work to apply for scholarships and grants, such as writing an essay or submitting documents. However, the result can pay off.
Scholarships and grants are free money that can help you out tremendously in college, and you don’t have to pay any of it back.
You can qualify for scholarships or grants for just about any reason you can think of. Some are for specific programs, for minorities, volunteer work, or getting into particular fields. Do not forget to apply for them every year as well. They are not just for when you begin college.
Be Smart with Your Credit Card
If you have never had a credit card before starting college, it would be wise to get one. Opt for one with a rewards program or no annual fee. Rewards can help you redeem points for using your card for several goodies. No yearly fees ensure you aren’t spending money just for simply having a credit card.
Having a credit card is essential to start establishing a good credit history. It can be dangerous to have if you are not disciplined with it. Remember that you must pay back whatever you use on your credit card, so it’s not ideal to go blowing it on a shopping spree or expensive nights out.
To build credit, use your card to purchase what you need for college such as books, food, and bills. Even if you can buy these things with cash or debit, use your card. You can then immediately pay that bill. A rewards card will also help you earn extra points for items you have to buy anyway.
Be Smart About Where You Work
It would be friendly to all choose what jobs we work, but it is not that simple. However, being smart about where you choose to apply can be beneficial in so many ways. If you have no choice but to work in college, it can quickly become a distraction from your studies. Or you can end up getting burnt out by having too many things on your plate.
If possible, look for a job on campus. There are usually endless opportunities to work at your school. You can work in food services, the library, student government, and more. These jobs may not give you a ton of hours or may not pay a high amount, but they can be enough to help you get by.
Working on campus can also have its advantages because your employer would better understand balancing work and school. They would be more aware of your schedule and your commitments to your studies.
If working on campus is not possible and you need another way to earn some money, consider looking for online jobs. This will allow you to work from home or on campus from your laptop or computer and will most likely offer more flexibility in terms of your schedule. You can look for freelance gigs for something you’re interested in, tutor, or be a virtual assistant.
Research Your Textbooks Before You Buy Them
Textbooks can be one of the biggest money pits you will deal with in college. Books are costly, and they do not get much use. Chances are, you will use it for one class, and then it will collect dust on your shelf.
There may be classes that require textbooks because they are special editions. You should look online before purchasing the book to see if anyone is selling it or if you can buy a digital copy. There is a chance you could rent it. Your school may discourage you from doing this, but that is only because they aren’t making money off the sky-high markups.
Make it a habit to take good care of your textbooks as well. Keeping your textbooks in as mint of condition as possible will make it so you can resell them for as much as possible. Of course, you probably will not get the total price back for them either way. However, making at least some of the money back on your textbooks is a win.
Take Full Advantage of Amenities and Events on Campus
Going on a campus tour is worth it if your school offers one. You can learn more about what your college offers than if you were to explore independently. Because colleges want to offer their students the best experience possible, they will often have various amenities and events for students to participate in.
Many schools have gyms, insurance plans, doctors, and counselors, for example, where fees are either part of your tuition, or you get them for free for being a student. Use these services as much as possible, so you don’t have to pay for them elsewhere. A quick search of your college website will help you discover amenities you may have had no clue about.
Similarly, schools often hold various events throughout the year that offer complimentary food, drinks, and even prizes to win for participating. It is always worth it to attend these events. You often do not have to do anything other than show up to get free stuff. The few bucks these events could save you can add up over time.
Start Saving Money Now
It may seem impossible, but if you can square away even a few dollars a month in a savings account, you would be surprised at how much this could help you after college. Not only will it inspire you to be more aware of your money, but you will have a small nest egg that can help you start your life after school.
Even if you save $5 or $10 a month during your college years, every little bit helps. You may not be able to buy a house, but you will have some security knowing you have a little bit of money saved up should you need it.
This will also help you create healthy money habits that will serve you later. Even if it is not a lot, saving money is essential to having a good relationship with money. Once you start earning a better income, you will already be in the habit of saving. You can start saving more to secure your future. Click on the link to learn more.
Don’t Feel Pressured to Participate in Everything
Part of the fun of college is going to parties, spending time with new friends, and indulging in new experiences. However, you should not feel pressured to do these things all the time just because everyone else is doing it or because you think you must because you are in college.
Giving yourself the time and freedom to have fun occasionally is essential for your mental health. Doing this in excess can not only distract you from your end goal of getting an education, but it can also eat away at funds that could be used more wisely.
College can be a memorable experience filled with many lessons, challenges, and new endeavors. It can also throw you into the depths of debt if you are not careful. With some tips in your tool belt and an optimistic attitude, you can get the most out of college while saving money.