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Tips for Saving Money in College

By Gabriela Salazar
  • 13th September 2019
  • Lauren Bachelder

College students are always juggling due dates, meetings, exams, and work, often leaving their finances neglected. Even during the first year of college, the habits you develop are the foundation of your future. The earlier you start saving money, the better your future will be, especially if you plan to buy a house. But even if you don’t have any bad spending habits, it is still a good idea to plan ahead and prepare for financial emergencies. We want students to know how to save money living on their own.

These tips are only a preview of what you might discover on your own, and we hope to motivate you to find how you can save in your college town.

  1. Create a budget
    Even though budgeting can be a little intimidating, it’s an essential step in taking control of your finances. After all, a budget is simply a plan for how you spend your money each month. To make a budget, add up all your anticipated spending for the month (Ex: rent, utilities, groceries), then compare that to how much money you make. You can also include allowances from your parents or scholarship awards for textbooks and other housing costs. The goal of setting a budget is to make sure your assets are always higher than your liabilities (expenses). If you’re in the red, that means you’ll need to cut back on your expenses. Today, there are tons of budgeting apps that are designed to help students save money. One of our favorites is Mint because it helps users set a budget, track spending, and helps with goal-setting. Best of all, it’s free!
  2. Find free food on campus
    It may not seem like it’s worth it, but students will quickly find that the cost of food eats up a lot of money. Luckily, there is free food on campus for those who know where to look! First, most college students pay for meal plans as a part of their yearly fees. Even though the Chick-fil-a may be calling your name during every lunch break, make sure to take advantage of the dining halls and avoid spending extra money! Another easy way to find free food is to attend campus events or meetings. Professors and student organizations know to use food as a way to attract students to an event or meeting. The best way to find food is to follow organizations on social media and your university’s social media accounts. They will usually post where students can come get their snack on.
  3. Use your student ID for discounts
    Most students don’t know how useful student discounts can be at local businesses and beyond! You can get discounts at museums, movie theatres, retail stores, subscription services, and even downloadable software such as Microsoft Office via your school’s website. Even if you’re traveling internationally, your discounts still apply!
  4. Fill out the FAFSA every year
    If you haven’t filled out the FAFSA before, here’s a guide to filling out the FAFSA and why it’s so important to do so every year that you’re enrolled in school to take advantage of financial aid. Filling out the FAFSA is surprisingly painless! Yes, it may take some time to gather all the information you need, but it’s worth the time! Most people don’t realize that even if you don’t get grants or scholarships for one year, it doesn’t mean you won’t get any in the future! The truth is that financial situations change, and those changes need to be reflected in your application. The bottom line is that if you don’t fill out the FAFSA, it could end up costing you more money to attend school.
  5. Don’t buy new textbooks.
    Textbooks can be incredibly expensive, especially if they’re bought new. Students should highly consider renting, downloading ebooks, or buying used versions instead. Most professors will tell you the cheapest way to get the books you need, such as purchasing an older edition. Always check your University’s library and see if they have a copy of your text. I always rent my books through Chegg because you can return them for free, and your books come with little goodies like coupons and Tide Pods!

We hope these tips can help keep your money where it belongs…in your bank account!

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