College is expensive and sometimes it is a struggle to make ends meet with the cost of tuition and living expenses. It almost seems as if you’re always short on cash, but don’t worry you are not alone. Saving money in college can be a challenge, but these 5 tips will help you get started, whether you are on your first or last year.
1. Don’t buy new textbooks
Most of your professors will have a textbook they will want you to use for the duration of their class, and it will be up to you to acquire it in time for lectures and assignments. While it may seem tempting to buy a brand-new book instead of the used one from three years ago, resist the urge. You are not a Magpie, and shiny does not mean better, only more expensive.
Instead of purchasing a new book, check at your school bookstore or online for used versions and rent them. The price of a used books is reduced, and unless the textbook is something you know you will use long after the class has ended, you pay less if you rent. Your savings can be significant when you are able to rent used books for most of your classes.
2. Cook instead of eating out
College life is busy, and sometimes you just need a change of pace. Instead of dining at the cafeteria again, you decide to order out from that new sushi place downtown and dessert from the pastry shop. An occasional treat for yourself is fine but it does add up with delivery fees and tips, and you’ll find it is a quick way to drain your account.
Sometimes you are not in the mood or have a craving for something else besides the usual meals served at the campus cafeteria, then consider cooking a few simple meals for yourself. While buying all the ingredients may seem more expensive than ordering a meal, it can be cheaper since you’ll probably have enough food for more than one meal. Plus, it’s also healthier for you too!
3. Set aside a budget
Impulse shopping is something that plagues all of us at some point in our lives. You’re walking down the street and see something on sale, or you just “have to” buy this amazing item you saw at the mall or online. Without a way to manage your expenses you may often find yourself short on cash. Budgeting is a great way to control your spending urges while still making sure you have enough to buy your necessities.
Write a list of your monthly bills and other needs such as toiletries and groceries, then estimate the amount of money it will cost to pay for all these items. You can throw in a little extra cash for one nice dinner out and emergencies, but from there you have a monthly budget to help track your expenses.
4. Walk or use public transportation
Uber and Lyft are amazing apps that everyone loves to use to get to places faster, but they can also be expensive depending on where you are and the time of the day you’re going and how often you use them. To save money, instead of Ubering or Lyfting everywhere, consider using different methods of transport instead.
Google Maps gives great estimates on transportation modes and the time it will take to get from one location to the next. Some schools have partnerships with the local transit systems that let their students ride for free during the school year. Biking or walking are also great alternatives for shorter distances, plus they are a great way to get to know a new city and get exercise at the same time.
5. Use money saving apps
Using rebate apps such as Shopkick or Ibotta will save you money when you go shopping for groceries and other items. They are a great way to cut down on spending while sometimes earning a bit of cash back. There are plenty of similar apps as well that will let you save money such as Honey or Checkout51, so look them up and see which works best for you.