How To Save Money While In College
Money is a particularly difficult thing to learn to manage, especially in college. It seems every time you turn around you need more of it, but with your course load and small part-time job there's never really enough cash or time. Yet learning to manage your finances is crucial because you are developing skills that you will need for the rest of your life, and frankly it's a life that will become even more challenging once you're out of school. Thankfully there are some simple and effective tips to help you get on track and stay on track.
You Can Save Everyday
You can find ways to save money every single day of the year. The best part is that you don't have to skip out on everything that's fun in life, either.
The ways you can save money are virtually limitless. Think about all of the ways you spend money. You spend money on books and tuition, class fees and lab fees, furniture and food, clothing and gym dues, and various forms of entertainment. Yet just as you are spending money on expenses such as these you can also find cheaper ways to go about things, thereby saving money.
First you should really get a handle on where the money is going by taking a look at your bank statement. Even go so far as to color code the expenditures so you can get a fair assessment of what's going where. If you're really strapped for cash you may want to consider getting rid of the gym membership or getting a cheaper one, or taking up sports in school to help you stay in shape. Are you a movie buff but broke? Check to see if your local library has free DVDs and maybe make a weekly evening of it with your friends. With just a few adjustments you can have the same fun but still save money. Again, it's imperative that you first assess where you're losing money.
Where is the Money Going?
Food is an easy way to lose money quickly, particularly if you make it a habit of eating out on a regular basis. Dining out is also one of the best ways to help you put on the Freshmen 15, too, so skip the hot wings and instead hit the grocery store.
When grocery shopping be sure to avoid going on an empty stomach and also take a shopping list with you to help you avoid impulse buys. Whenever choosing foods think of individual items that can be used in a variety of ways such as beans and rice. If you're staying in a dorm it's true your cooking options will be much more limited but that doesn't mean you have to just eat Ramen noodles, either. Just plan ahead and shop responsibly. Also try to make bigger batches of a healthy meal you enjoy so you can just heat and run.
College expenses can really rack up. If you added up what you spend on tuition and books alone, it would be enough to send your mind reeling. However, there are a few ways to cut costs without cutting corners. For instance, you could purchase used textbooks as opposed to new ones. Or, you could set up a 529 college savings plan to make the most of the money you save. You should also pursue scholarships whenever possible, as they can help tremendously with college expenses.
Racking up a lot of debt is a surefire way to lose money. It's tough enough to be facing school loans so try to keep unnecessary debt to a minimum because the interest you pay is just money thrown away. Only use credit cards when you need to, such as in the case of an emergency. Likewise, try to pay the balance off each and every month so you won't accrue any interest. Also be sure to pay your bills on time because failing to do so causes your interest to rise and your credit score to drop. Plus don't forget to keep your bank account at a certain level so that you don't run in to overdraft fees, which is just like throwing cash in the garbage for all the good it does you.
Another way you can save valuable cash in college is to avoid those last minute impulse buys. For instance, when you're at the checkout line at the grocery store, don't let the last minute items entice you. Likewise, just because you go to the mall, does not mean you need to buy something. And if a shirt is on sale, that is not an automatic excuse to buy it. Remember that it's the stores' job to encourage you to shop, and from well-placed items to savvy marketing promotions they've got this down to a science. So you simply need to outsmart them by maintaining a certain level of willpower while shopping.
From cutting coupons to utilizing a bulk shopping card, the ways to save money seem endless. And the good news is that with the right mindset you can turn being frugal into a life habit that can actually be kind of fun. Once you graduate you will have some impressive budgeting skills that will serve you well as you continue on into adulthood.