College is very expensive, and we have all come to know that as students. If you don’t have the financial help to get through the semester because you spent your savings on paying tuition, it makes it difficult to pass by, especially when you are in need. For students who do have a job, it might seem like you are living paycheck to paycheck. But do not worry, my experiences through college and working a part-time job has taught me the valuable lesson of how to save money! Be smart about money and consider the tips below to help save more money each semester.
Carpool to school.
If you don’t live on campus, getting to school can be a super stressful. Parking passes can cost a paycheck or two, and gas prices seem to be forever rising! Try to find a classmate, roommate, or friend and offer to split the cost of a parking pass and gas. It can be fun to have a traveling buddy!
Walk or bike.
Another alternative is walking to campus (if it is a short enough distance). Investing in a bike is also a great option. The money spent on a bike will equal out when you are riding it daily, and can be cheaper than gas or a parking pass! Plus, walking or riding your bike is a great way to get your body moving before class!
Pack a snack.
When you are hungry and walk into the school’s cafeteria, of course you want to buy everything in sight! Who cares if a measly peanut butter sandwich cost $10.00, your body needs to be fed! Try packing yourself breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner to keep you clear of the cafeteria. You can also buy snacks in bulk to pack for in between classes! Try to stay away from the school cafeteria, it can be a danger zone for your wallet.
Brew your own coffee.
Some students pull all-nighters with the help of five or more cups of coffee. What better way is there for the school to make money? The on-campus coffee shop, of course! I am sure you can find coffee shops scattered around school, and a small cup of coffee can cost almost $3.00! Do yourself a favor and make your coffee at home for under a buck, and you can make it just the way you like it!
ALWAYS opt for renting textbooks! They’re can cost hundreds of dollars, and it is cheaper to rent and return the book once you are done with it. Check out Chegg.com or Amazon.com. These are two trusted websites and companies for renting textbooks. There is even an option to get textbooks as an “e-book”, which is even cheaper (and very convenient)! Don’t wait for books to ship and don’t worry about sending them back. Plus, paperless is better for the environment!
Sell used textbooks.
There are times when textbooks are not available anywhere and searching for used textbooks has resulted in nothing. If you have to buy textbooks new, do some research to see where you can find the best price for the book. When you’re finished with the textbook, sell it back to the bookstore, or another student who needs it for the next semester. Some schools even have Facebook groups or bulletin boards where you can advertise what books you are selling.
Find free Wi-Fi.
Take advantage of the free Wi-Fi on campus. Schools usually require a school I.D. to get access, but that’s something that you have already as a student! It’s a plus if you forgot to pay the Internet bill, just head over to school and get some homework done or take a Netflix break.
Use the school gym.
If your school offers a gym or fitness center, make sure to sign up! Most schools go through a process of having a fitness assessment and filling out some easy paperwork to become a member. You can work out, swim, do yoga, or meditate, and then hit the showers. Make sure to renew your membership every semester to get access!
Utilize dollar & thrift stores.
These are some of the best stores to shop at! Not only because it helps you stick to your budget, but also because you never know what’s in store for the day. You can get snacks, school supplies, clothes, and so many other things. Do not be afraid or embarrassed, you can find vintage dorm decor and even cute clothes at thrift stores!
Most cities have a recycling center where you can turn in plastic bottles, cans and glass bottles for its recycling value. This is a great way to get gas money! You can even take the extra bottles and cans left out from your next door neighbor’s party last night. Have fun with it and enjoy the extra money in your wallet!
Rent with a roommate.
Rent is more manageable when you are able to split the cost. If you like living with others, this can be a great option, the more the roommates, you have the less rent each person has to pay! It can be fun to live with friends!
Live at home.
Students can decide if they would like to live on or off campus. If you’re attending a school in your home state, consider living at home and commuting to school! Staying with your parents throughout college years can be helpful when it comes to saving money. Living at home can save you thousands of dollars each year, including rent, food, utilities and more!
Save with your student I.D.
Your student I.D. can score you some awesome deals and discounts… just for being a college student! Ask around your hometown for recommendations of places that have deals for students. You may be able to find a discount at a local movie theater, restaurants, coffee shops, and more! Check out this awesome list for ideas where to get student discounts!
Pay bills on time.
This seems like a no-brainer, but let’s be real… it can be hard to remember! Be strict with yourself regarding paying your bills on time. Late payment fees will increase your monthly payments, and that is more money coming out your pocket! Make a list of all of the monthly bills you have to pay (rent, utilities, tuition, Spotify, credit cards, etc.) and add the due dates to your calendar as an easy reminder!
Find and attend free events.
Keep an eye out for posters on campus or other advertisements in the area for free movie nights, festivals, concerts, events or parties. Grab your friends and have fun!
If you’re looking to save a little bit of money, these tips can be helpful for anyone, not just college students! Share how you save money in the comments below!
Elizabeth is a 22 year old senior attending California State University, Fullerton majoring in Sociology. She volunteers at the Department of Social Services and is a part time worker as a coordinator, a gym fanatic, a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a best friend, and a go getter! You can find her on her blog, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest.