Most college students are living on a budget. If not, they’re likely students getting themselves into a cycle of debt. While neither is fun or easy, you can become smarter about the way you spend your money. Keep in mind that the key to financial success is being aware of how you’re spending your money. Also, know that there’s a difference between being cheap and having spending savvy. There’s nothing wrong with living within your means, rather than beyond. Stretch your dollar further with the following money-saving tips:
1. Always pay bills on time to avoid late fees.
2. Buy or rent used textbooks and sell last semester’s books back.
3. Don’t make impulse purchases.
4. Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.
5. Limit the number of times you eat out monthly.
6. Cut out vices – smoking and binge drinking are terrible for you and expensive.
7. If you have a credit card, pay it off as quickly as possible. (It’s good to establish credit, but a bad credit score follows you everywhere.)
8. Walk, use public transportation or ride a bike instead of having a car.
9. Live with others so you can split rent and utilities.
10. Cut out expensive cable packages you don’t need.
11. Consider more basic phone packages or plans that include unlimited texting with free incoming calls
12. Don’t buy the most expensive college meal plans. Figure out what you actually consume and get the correlating package.
13. Shop where they offer student discounts. There are so many places that offer discounts to students with a school ID.
14. Look into a campus gym versus a gym in town. Many colleges offer memberships for free or at a reduced rate for students.
15. Sell what you no longer use or need. There are plenty of stores and web sites, like Poshmark and Craigslist, where you can sell your used clothing, furniture or tech items.
16. Don’t buy unnecessary school supplies. Why buy cumbersome notebooks when you can type on your laptop? It’s better for the earth anyway!
17. Don’t buy books you will only need for a short period of time – check them out from the library instead.
18. Take advantage of what your campus has to offer in terms of activities, rather than spending money on going out. Many campuses have an array of museums, offer movie nights and other social events for cheaper or, sometimes, for free.
19. When planning meals, make dinner with friends and split the cost of groceries. Often times, you’ll be cooking too much for one person anyway!
20. Skip expensive spring break and summer trips – look into alternatives, like volunteering, instead.
21. Wait to get a pet until after college – a pet can become very expensive. Not only do you have another mouth to feed, but veterinary bills are costly. If you love animals, there are plenty of shelters that need volunteers.
22. Go to class. You’re paying for it and skipping is like throwing money out the window!
23. Drink water. It’s free and better for you, anyway.
24. Make your own coffee. While coffee shops are convenient, they charge hefty prices that really add up over time.
25. Open a savings account that earns interest. Credit unions have fewer fees and are great for students.
26. Never take out a loan for anything that’s unrelated to your education.
27. Don’t buy music. Use the free services like Spotify or Pandora offer.
28. Look into class requirements and the options for testing out of classes. Why pay for a class you could easily test out of?
29. Consider becoming a resident advisor. Many get free room and board.
30. Avoid buying name brand items. Purchase generic items whenever possibl e. They are exactly the same item, at a highly reduced price. You can even check the ingredients to make sure!
31. Use a free tool, like FinAid’s Student Budget Calculator or the one offered by Mint.com, to keep track of your finances. It’s harder to be frivolous when you see where your money is going.