Saving money while you are in college can seem like an oxymoron. With rising tuition prices, and sky rocketing living expenses, that can seem like a distant dream. However, saving money is an important way to start your career after graduation. Getting a new apartment, business attire for your work, and dealing with daily expenses, you can dig yourself a deep hole is you aren’t careful. So, here are 10 tips on saving money while you are in college.
1. Start a Savings Account
If you don’t already have one, this is a great way to put aside some extra money, and make sure you don’t spend it. Some banks will have a minimum, but others don’t, so look for an account that will work for your budget. If you are financially struggling most of the year, then you will want a savings account that allows you to keep a low amount. Find one that works for you, and start putting away some savings to help you out once you are out of school.
Saving money can often mean that you need to make more money, so make your money work for you. Invest in stocks, or use an online trading company that will guide you through the process. This is a way to use some money to eventually make you more in the long run. This can be a risky move, especially for someone that hasn’t done it a lot. However, do a little research, and you might be in for a good payout once you are ready to sell.
*Hint: Following rising trends can be a way to buy in at a low rate and sell high, then get out quick! The Beyond Meat Company just went public, and the stock price tripled in value within three days. So, it is risky, but can make for a good payday.
3. Freelance Work
Saving money may be very difficult while school is in session, even with a job. But, you can take advantage of freelance jobs that will allow you to do temporary, or one-off jobs that can make you some quick cash. This can range from helping people to format resumes, help writing business proposals, to tutoring. Online freelance jobs are a big industry, and they can often pay well.
I got my first freelance job during spring break week and was able make $15 an hour, which was about $5 over minimum wage. So, find something that you could do and bid on the job, you might be able to make some cash to start your savings.
4. Summer Positions
Whether you want to save money for something specific, or just to have a little extra put away for emergencies, having a nest egg is always a good idea. One way to do that, whether you have a job or not, is to look for something that is seasonal. During the summer months, many places hire part time workers to help with the crowds of people off for the summer. Work a few extra hours a week stocking shelves, cleaning cages at an animal shelter, or checking tickets at a movie theater. Stash away some of that cash and it will all add up.
Grocery shopping is an obvious necessity, but you can save money by taking advantage of sales, student discounts, and other discounts offered. If you have a AAA card for your car, then you can get discounts at a lot of different places, and often times student discounts are offered at places around a college. So, pay attention to coupon books that come in the mail that give you coupons to places you live close to, and always ask if they will give you a discount for being a student!
6. Happy Hours
Staying at home, alone, may save you some money, but that is no way to live. You can still have a healthy social life without breaking the bank every weekend. Plan to have get-togethers at someone’s apartment to keep things cheap, or hit up happy hours at restaurants. You can get cheap drinks, appetizers, or even full meals at a discount. Check online to find a good happy hour near you that you can take advantage of the discounts every time you go out.
This is a great way to save money for a number of reasons. The first is that if you commute to school, this can cut costs of travel is you split it between a few people. Second, even if you live nearby, or on campus, this is still a great habit to get into. Your weekend getaways can be cut down to one car, which will keep gas costs low, and the need for car maintenance down. Plus, you are doing good by your environment by cutting down on your carbon emissions.
8. School Gifts
Another good way to save a little money, is to get all you can from your campus programs. Many universities have food pantry’s that can supply you with some staples when you run low on cash, so you can still put a bit away for another time. This can help out when you are living paycheck to paycheck, but need to get ahead.
Also, many events on campus’s will have free stuff to giveaway to students, whether it is energy drinks, coconut water, or chips. Little snacks will often be available to stock up on, so grab a few for the week and lower your grocery bill and save some of that cash for a rainy day fund.
9. Cook At-Home
Eating out while you are busy is an easy way to grab a bite, but that can add up pretty quickly. If you take a look at your monthly receipts, you might find that you are spending more than you thought. Instead, make a point to buy foods that you can take with you, like snack sized chips, pretzels, or fruits so that you will not get hungry while out and about. Then take the time to make a full meal for dinner, which is always cheaper, and save leftovers for times that you need to heat something up.
10. Live Within Your Means
It goes without saying that racking up credit card bills are not a good way to save money, but some students still fall into that trap. Buy something now, pay it off later while building your credit. Sound good, right? The fees and interest can sneak up on you, and come back to bite you, hard. This doesn’t mean that credit cards are bad, in fact, they are great ways to build credit while in school. However, overusing them and not paying the balance off quick enough will accumulate interest and you’ll end up paying more in the long run. So, live within your means, and don’t get used to overspending.