How to Save During Your College Years
Student loan debt currently hovers at $1.4 trillion, a stark reminder of how expensive college has become. The College Board reported that the average cost of coition and fees for the 2017-2018 school year was $34,570 at private colleges, $9,970 for in-state students at public universities, and $25,620 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. This doesn't consider extra costs such as transportation, living off campus, food, textbooks, and entertainment. Don't wait until after college to start saving money. Building a healthy relationship with your finances and learning to live within your means should start now. Plus, any money you can save now can make a big difference in the future when it's time to pay back those student loan debts (with interest). These tips will help you enjoy your college experience while saving money in the process.
Track your expenses.
You'll have the best idea of where you can save money if you start by tracking your expenses. You can easily do this by using a free app like Mint or Wallet. Once you see how much you're spending and where exactly your money is going, you'll be able to make smarter decisions.
Take advantage of free activities on campus.
You're likely already paying a fee for the gym on campus. You might as well use it rather than pay for a gym membership elsewhere! College campuses also offer a lot of free or low-cost entertainment options like movie nights, lectures, dances, and more. Take advantage of on-campus activities rather than spending money on entertainment off campus.
Be wary of credit cards.
Credit cards may seem tempting, but you shouldn't look at them as free money. While it's important to build good credit, limit yourself to one low-interest card and make sure that you can pay it off on time every month. Otherwise, you'll be stuck with late fees.
Save on your next laptop.
Some laptop manufacturers like Apple and Dell offer discounts for students. Additionally, many states offer tax-free shopping days around the end of summer, just before school starts. Think about what features you need and which you can live without. Choosing a laptop without a touchscreen, for example, could save you hundreds of dollars. You may also want to look into buying a certified refurbished laptop, such as from Apple.
Never buy new textbooks.
New editions of textbooks are published every year with price tags often over $100 each. They typically feature very few changes from previous textbook editions. Save yourself some money by purchasing a recent edition of that required textbook instead of the newest edition. You can also search libraries for your textbook, rent a textbook, or forgo a hard copy for an electronic copy of the book instead.
Get a student bank account.
Student bank accounts typically offer lower fees than conventional bank accounts. When choosing your student checking account, make sure that you consider ATM fees, maintenance fees, and overdraft fees. Select a savings account that offers a high-interest rate so that you can earn money on your account balance. Typically, student savings accounts have a lower upfront balance requirement but if you can afford it, look into other savings account options as well.
You'll be surprised by how many discounts your student ID can get you! Some examples of where you can take advantage of student discounts include movie theaters, Amazon Prime, Apple Music, Apple, Microsoft, certain car insurance plans, GlassesUSA, Express, and more. Don't be afraid to ask if any student discounts are available, since clerks may not volunteer the information upfront.
Cancel your cable.
There are so many streaming services available today that are often much cheaper than paying for cable television. Cancel your cable and choose a Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime subscription instead. If there is something you really want to see on TV, most college dorms also offer a common room with a television that you can use.
Go to class.
Seriously, you are paying for your classes, so don't skip them! That is basically the same thing as throwing away money. Plus, if you don't take your classes seriously now, it could take you longer to graduate, which means another semester (or year) of tuition and fees.
Cut down on how much you eat out.
If you live on campus, you probably have a campus meal plan. If your school offers a choice, make sure that you choose a meal plan that is right for you. For example, if you often skip breakfast or eat breakfast in your dorm room, you may be able to swing a cheaper meal plan. Whether you live on or off campus, eating at restaurants can get very expensive fast! Eat at home to save money. Many dorms even have common kitchens where you can cook. There are cookbooks written with college students in mind featuring recipes that are easy to make as well as budget-friendly.