10 Ways to Save Money at College
by Emily Harrison
Published April 28, 2010 | Updated August 7, 2015
College can be expensive. Between textbooks, tuition, and the cost of living, college can seem like it's all about spending money. Even with the help of scholarships and financial aid, expenses add up quickly. But with some careful planning and these simple tips, you can avoid the poor house and still get your degree. These 10 money saving tips for college students will help you stay under budget and spend smart when you go back to school.
How to Save Money at College:
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- Use Student Discounts
When you are shopping or looking for fun activities, be aware of student discounts. You won't always be able to pick and choose where to use them, but opting for the discounts when they're available will help your bottom line. And if you aren't sure if a discount is available, it never hurts to ask. Did you know Overstock.com offers free Club O memberships to students and teachers? You can learn more about Club O Classroom here.
- Track Your Spending
Keep track of what and where you are spending. It's always helpful to budget out your money at the beginning of the month, so you'll know how much money you have left as the month goes by. Keep in mind that banks usually don't post charges or credits on the weekend, and make sure you look out for the little fees from your bank or credit card. These little things at the wrong time can add up to big problems.
- Save with Water
Instead of buying expensive drinks from a vending machine between classes, drink water. It's healthier and much cheaper. Keep a reusable water bottle on hand, and if the tap water at your residence isn't great, buy a water filter. The one-time purchase will quickly pay for itself.
- Don't Drive
Between gas, car insurance, and regular or unexpected maintenance, a car can be a huge financial drain. Save money by leaving it at home. Parking on campus can be a hassle, too. If you'll be living on or near campus, get a bike or plan on walking. They're' great exercise and refreshing ways to get around. For longer trips, use public transportation if you can. Your wallet, and the environment, will thank you.
- Don't Go Crazy on Spring Break
Spring Break is, no doubt, a great time in every college student's life. But if you aren't careful in planning it, Spring Break can be a major, and unnecessary expense. Plan to go with a group, so you can share hotel and transportation rates. And remember, if it isn't in your budget, simply don't go. Skipping the trip and having a chill staycation can be just as fun.
- Save Your Receipts
Not only will saving your receipts help with tip number two, but it is a great habit to get into if you itemize your taxes. Organizing your receipts into categories, such as food or travel, will also help you to see where the majority of your money is going and where to adjust your spending.
- Comparison Shop
When buying supplies you need for your classes, like textbooks and electronics, make sure you check around for the lowest price. The school bookstore might be the most convenient, but you can almost always find the same items for less money online or secondhand. Check local classifieds or student networks for big discounts on used textbooks.
- Eat In
Whether you have a meal plan or not, you'll find that keeping food on hand is much cheaper than going out to eat. If your dorm allows it, get a small refrigerator to keep healthy foods and snacks (like fruits and vegetables) for when you need a pick-me-up. If you're lucky enough to have a kitchen, pick up one of the many cookbooks designed especially for college students. They are full of tips on how to make quick, cheap, and healthy meals.
- Print Smart
Most colleges and universities have allowances for printing papers and making copies. If your school doesn't, or you need more than the provided allowance, save money by buying remanufactured ink refills for your printer. They work just as well as new refills, but are much less costly.
- Be Balanced
Make sure you budget some money for your personal entertainment. DVDs and popcorn for a movie night are a great idea. If you need more than an occasional date with your television, subscribe to an affordable streaming service to feed your interests. Remember, there is more to college life than just studying. Taking some time for yourself will help you relax when things get stressful.