Easy Ways to Save Money in College

These days, college is not cheap. Tuition costs have skyrocketed. Housing costs have gone up as well. So what is a college student on a fixed income to do? Here are some ways you can save some green while getting a higher education. 

Eating (and drinking) can consume your wallet

One of the biggest everyday expenses that most college students don’t think about is meals. Here are some ways to cut your food bills.

  • Invest in a coffee maker: If you drink only two cups of coffee a day, that can be $7 a day for coffee, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up to $210 per month. 
  • Stock your dorm fridge: Every Sunday night, go to the grocery store and stock up on food for the week. Most students are exhausted during the week and opt to eat out when the fridge is empty. Having food at the ready helps curb what you spend on eating out. 
  • Drink before you drink: Drink before you go to the bars. (Not that we condone drinking.) Alcohol from the store is cheaper than alcohol you pay for at the bars. 
  • Do meal prep: Some dorms offer communal kitchens. Pick a day of the week and cook one big meal that you can then divide into your dinners for the week.

Used is the new new

If you are in college, there is no reason for you to buy anything new. (Unless it’s food. Definitely buy food new.) Here are some used items you can pick up. 

  • Books: It’s common sense at this point that you should buy your books used, but it bears repeating. 
  • Electronics: Many tech companies will refurbish old versions of their electronics to sell at a discounted price. Apple is known for this. So get a refurbished Mac or iPhone instead of a new one. 
  • Furniture: If you are moving into a new apartment and need a couch, check out places like Craigslist to find people selling used furniture for cheap. 
  • Other amenities: All the appliances in your kitchen should be used. Your bike? Used. Your TV? Used. Your new stylish outfit? Used. Your mattress and linens? Well those should be new. But everything else should be used.

Keep your finances in order

This may be hard for a college student, but tracking your finances can help you save a lot. Many students haven’t been taught the ins and outs of banking, credit cards and lending, which means they generally aren’t aware of the fees that you can rack up with any of these. Here are some things to look out for:

  • Avoid banking fees: Look for a bank that won’t charge you fees to have an account. Many people don’t realize that some banks will charge fees on their checking and savings accounts, or take on fees if you don’t have a certain amount of money in your account. Know what the fees are and avoid them at all costs. 
  • Pay your credit card off every month: If you have a balance on your credit card at the end of the billing cycle, the credit card company will charge you interest on that amount. That’s throwing good money away every month. Clear your account each month, and pay on time, otherwise you’ll also be charged a late fee. Some student credit cards offer limited fees. 

Use those student discounts

Repeat after me: Student discounts are awesome. Many students don’t take advantage of these discounts. Here are a bunch of items, stores and activities that offer student discounts.

  • Movies
  • Computer software
  • Clothing stores (J.Crew, Banana Republic, etc.)
  • Book stores
  • Restaurant chains
  • Gyms
  • Hotels & other travel companies
  • Professional sports

Amazon also offers great discounts for students. 

Grab all the freebies you can

College campuses are a hotbed for free events. When you are looking to let off some steam, check your school’s calendar to see if there are any free events happening. 

  • Art shows: You may not have refined tastes, but these shows are a great place to meet people and socialize. Some even offer free food or drinks.
  • Theater: Some colleges allow students to attend theater shows on campus for free. 
  • Sporting events: Some schools with the more popular teams may charge students for tickets to the games, but most college’s let students attend for free. 
  • Music: Many colleges will offer free admission to students for a wide range of music events, from a Battle of the Bands to the school’s orchestra.

College is a stressful time, and keeping your mind financially focused can be asking a lot. But if you keep these tips in mind, hopefully you can save a little money that can help you pay off those student loans when you graduate.

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