College is exciting because it’s the first time you get a taste of independence. And because of this independence, you really begin to learn and understand the value of money. However, students, even those with part-time jobs, may have a limited budget, and it is their responsibility to figure out ways to save money in college. And to make it work, you have to keep track of your expenses and be savvy spenders so you can pay their bills, have enough to eat, buy textbooks and other educational paraphernalia, and keep part of your money in savings.
Here are a few things to help you make that happen.
7 Ways to Save Money in College
1. Save on textbooks
You don’t need to buy new textbooks. Unfortunately, those things can get very expensive. According to the National Association of College Stores, the average college student pays $655 annually for books and other supplies. Depending on your major, the amount can be either a little less than that or much higher. So, if you want to save on college books and other materials, it will take some planning and creativity. Here are some ways to make it happen:
- – If you know someone in your college or university who took the same subjects you are about to, try to ask if you can borrow their books or buy them for less. Watch out for book exchanges on campus, as well.
- – If you are too shy to ask, purchasing second-hand books online is another option. Explore online e-commerce sites that sell used items, such as textbooks.
- – You can also opt for a digital copy of your textbooks一it will cost much less, plus it’s more convenient because you wouldn’t have to lug heavy books around all the time.
- – Explore free books and check if your required textbooks are on public access. One example is Project Gutenberg, which houses thousands of free textbooks for everyone to download and use.
2. Choose the right bank
Usually, banks around college campuses offer bank accounts tailored for college students. These savings or checking accounts will have little to no minimum balance and have lower fees. Constantly monitor your spending and ensure you do not overdraft, as overdraft fees can be costly. Here are a few pointers for choosing a bank while in college.
- – Your bank must be insured by the FDIC or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. This way, you can rest assured that if the bank fails, you will not lose your money — up to the amount prescribed by the law.
- – The bank you choose must also have robust digital capabilities. Everything is online now, so your bank must always cater to your convenience.
- – Choose banks that are well-reviewed by users. A simple Google search can give you an idea of the branch’s customer service.
- – Avoid banks that charge too high. Get to know how much overdraft, penalty, ATM, and monthly maintenance fees they charge.
3. Pay interest while in school
The monthly payments for student loans usually start six months after you graduate from college. However, your loan accrues interest while in school, making your original loan blow up by the time you graduate. One way to save money down the road is to pay off the interest on your student loans while in school. This way, you can save thousands of dollars in accumulated interest. $10 or $20 a month can help you save. Here are a few reminders that might help:
- – When taking out a loan, avoid overborrowing. Some lenders may offer to lend you more money; just say no. This will increase your interest and the chance of defaulting on your loan.
- – Check your budget before paying for the good of your loan while in school. Paying the loan interest while in school is optional and only advisable if your budget allows it.
4. Be wise with credit
You must develop good credit this early. Bad credit will follow you around like a bad stench for years. It can affect your chances of getting good jobs and low loan interest. A bad credit score can also give you a hard time renting an apartment, signing up for utilities, securing loans, and insuring vehicles and homes.
When looking for a credit card, take the time to read the fine print and shop for the best terms. Look for the following:
- –APRs that are below 15%
- – No annual fees
- – A grace period of at least 25 days
Pay your credit card dues on time and be wise when spending money using your credit card. Remember, the interest in these things can get pretty high. So live within your budget — this is an excellent skill to master early on.
5. Student discounts can help you save
Another one of the best ways to save money in college is to use your student ID for discounts. Ask for student discounts wherever you go. You’d be surprised at how many stores actually offer it.
- – Tech discounts. Apple and Microsoft offer college students great deals to get a laptop at a lower price.
- – Entertainment. When you want to take a break from all the schoolwork, take advantage of student discounts in movie theatres, museums, and music venues.
- – Food and drinks. Even coffee shops around your campus will offer student rates to college students. Your favorite sandwich shop may also give you student discounts.
- – Subscriptions. You can have reduced membership fees in streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix, as well as journals like New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
6. Make use of campus amenities
Get to know the amenities that your college offers. Then, take the time to tour the campus, and you will find out that you can definitely use several amenities covered by your tuition.
- – Campus gym. Why pay for an expensive gym membership when you have access to your college gym? What’s great about it is that you can work out in the morning or between classes. Ask if they offer group fitness training and styles if you love working out with a group.
- – Social activities. There are also a lot of choices when it comes to social activities like free movies and even motivational sessions with high-profile speakers. If your school is currently meeting online, they may host free digital events and webinars.
- – Physical and mental health services. Probably one of the most critical benefits college campuses offer is health services. If you are feeling sick, utilize the health services provided by the school. In-house counselors are also available when you need to talk about personal issues and mental health concerns.
- – Career services. Colleges and universities also offer services that cater to your job search and networking needs. You can seek your academic advisor’s help to know how to avail of these services.
7. Generate extra income
Be creative and find ways to make money while studying. Earning extra bucks is always a good idea if your schedule permits it. There are lots of ways to get extra income in college. Here are some of them:
- – Tutoring other students. If you are excelling in a particular subject, consider offering tutoring services to fellow students. You can ask your department head or employment office for prospective students.
- – Edit or proofread students’ work. If you are adept in grammar and composition, you can monetize by offering this service to your peers.
- – Apply as a campus tour guide. If you love talking to people and showing people around, let your admissions officers know that you are interested in welcoming new students aboard.
- – Work as an assistant in campus recreational facilities. If you love the gym or are a good swimmer, you can apply to the campus’ recreation department as part of their staff.
- – Get a temp job. You may also opt to work off-campus. Seek the help of local employment agencies to learn about companies needing part-time employees.
- – Try out vlogging. A lot of people find Youtube a great way to earn money nowadays. Why not try your hand at it? It may take a while to build a following, but it is worth the try if you have spare time to make and edit videos.
- – Sell used items. If you have used clothes and accessories that are still in good condition, sell them! You earn bucks, and you declutter your closet, too. A win-win.
There is no hard and fast rule in saving money, whether while you’re studying or already out in the field after you graduate. The list above contains just some ways to save money in college. But one thing is for sure: it takes discipline to keep your finances in check.
Regularly check your budget and run the numbers before making any big purchases. Cut back on things that are not necessary. Find ways to save even small amounts of money — when they pile up, you’ve done your future self a great favor. Always bring your school ID with you because with it comes power — powerful discounts, that is.
And most importantly, have fun in college! The real world after it is tough, to say the least. Make your college life a good training experience for the real world, and make the most of this exciting part of your life.
If you need expert advice on finances and loan options, our team is here to help. Contact us today!