7 Ways to Save More Money in College
BY DAVID GUITIERREZ
College is an expensive time; you’ll be paying for tuition, and possibly room and board, and you’ll be so busy with school work you won’t have much extra time to devote to a secondary job. If you want to get by, affording textbooks and supplies throughout your education, and still end up with a pocket of funds to get you started in the real world when you graduate, you’ll need to learn how to save your money effectively. But how can you do it in such demanding circumstances?
Starter Tips for New College Savers
If you don’t have much experience saving money, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Up until now, you probably haven’t been responsible for your own expenses. Fortunately, there are a few simple strategies that anyone—even those with no financial knowledge or experience—can employ to start saving money in college:
- Buy used. First, buy everything used (if you can). For textbooks, you’ll end up paying $50 instead of $300, and for dorm fixtures like desks and furniture, you’ll pay a fraction of what you would pay for new materials. Generally, there’s no advantage to buying new; you might get products with fewer dings and scuffs, but the price differential isn’t justified. Book Finder and similar sites are ideal for tracking down used copies of the textbooks you need—and be sure to check your campus bookstore, too!
- Look for free items and giveaways. College campuses are full of free items—if you know where to look. On move-in and move-out days, wander the streets to see what pieces of furniture and other items people are dumping on the road. This is a time for people to get rid of things they don’t need, so look for clean items you could use, and pick them up. You can also find free items (and free food) at many college events, so be aware of things going on in your area.
- Pool resources. If you can, pool your resources whenever possible. You can chip in on a piece of furniture with a friend, or buy food together in bulk to keep costs down. Most importantly, try to live with other roommates—it will reduce your rent to a fraction of what it would be otherwise, and you’ll probably have a better experience (or at least more stories to tell).
- Prioritize your health. If you’re young, you may feel invincible, but it’s important to be proactive with your health. Invest in health insurance and dental plans, or insurance alternatives, so you can protect yourself if you fall ill or become injured. Make little investments, like buying healthy foods and personal hygiene items, so you can keep yourself in peak condition. These aren’t the areas to cut costs.
- Cook your own meals. After a busy day of classes and studying, you’ll probably be tempted to pick up some fast food or order a pizza. It may seem cheap at the time, but the cost of regular meals out can quickly add up. It may be a bit more time consuming to go out, get groceries, and cook your own meals, but you’ll probably pay a tenth of what you would pay otherwise.
- Take public transportation. Having your own car gives you a sense of freedom and independence, but the cost just isn’t justified if you’re living on or near campus. You’ll have to pay for the car, insurance, gas, and routine maintenance, which can easily add up to hundreds of dollars a month. A single public transportation pass will be far less expensive—and better for the environment.
- Take advantage of campus offers. Pay attention to what your campus offers for free, and try not to pay for things you could get for free. For example, your campus probably has a gym, so you don’t have to pay for your own membership, and it probably has a library, so don’t pay for books unless you have to.
Drawing Up a Budget
If you have a line of income from any source, it’s a good idea to draw up a budget. Set strict limits on what you’re allowed to spend for various categories, including rent, groceries, transportation, and entertainment. Track everything you spend money on; chances are, in the first month, you’ll be surprised how much money you spend in each category. Once you have a better understanding of your incoming and outgoing cash, you can come up with even better strategies for saving—and by the end of your college career, you’ll have a miniature nest egg you can use as a down payment for your first apartment, or a way to cover moving costs to your next big adventure.
David Gutierrez has worked in the field of web design since 2005. Right now he started learning Java in order to get second occupation. His professional interests defined major topics of his articles. David writes about new web design software, recently discovered professional tricks and also monitors the latest updates of the web development.