College is one of the first major steps toward entering the “real world,” but it’s wise to practice self-sufficient and self-sustaining habits even during this time. This is true for staying physically and mentally well, crafting strong study routines, and knowing how to budget and spend money wisely.
This last idea addresses one of the most difficult tasks of getting though college: keeping track of your finances as you deal paying for tuition, room and board, and more. There are, however, ways to budget and save money so you aren’t worried about sustaining yourself through the semester. Here are a few tips for saving money as you make your way through college.
Track What Purchases to Budget
One of the best ways to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by finances is to track what you purchase then make the changes accordingly. Having everything laid out will not only give you an idea about what you spend money on regularly but will also lay the groundwork for the way you can budget later. Organize your spending by logging what you purchase on a notebook or spreadsheet then evaluate what you put down. Where are you spending most of your money? What can you cut down on or even go without? Start by making small changes to start getting into the habit of budgeting before moving on to larger aspects of your finances. Also, remember these changes don’t have to be permanent, though it’ll still be healthy to practice good spending habits in general.
Find Opportunities for Saving Money Everywhere
There are multiple ways to save money while in college, whether on everyday items or on your tuition. Good options for making the most out of your college experience includes scholarships for your major (which can encompass all the major areas of college spending), fellowships, and grants. It is also a popular option to have a room or rent an apartment off campus. Here are a few other money saving tips that can save you a lot in the long run.
- Buy textbooks second-hand instead of paying full price. There are tons of textbooks in online pdf format for free as well.
- Limit how often you order food, eat out, go to bars, etc. Meal planning is a great option as well, packing a lunch to take to class can save money spent on food that’s close to campus.
- Try public transportation. Many campuses offer free bus passes for students. There are also many bike and scooter rental companies becoming more and more popular in different cities.
- Start (or create!) a side hustle that brings in some extra money, allowing you to save on necessary expenses. If you have a car, meal delivery services are quick and easy to use. If you have a creative passion, making and selling on Etsy is always a great option, as well as a creative outlet.
Be Mindful of Bills
If you aren’t living on campus and also have to focus on rent and utilities, be careful that you are keeping devices unplugged when they are not in use. It is a responsible choice to keep your AC and heater off or at a steady temperature. Usually, 72 degrees is the sweet spot for AC units. Taking shorter showers will help save money on your water bill. If you are a frequent gym goer, take advantage of gym showers.
Look for Discounts
Discounts can come in multiple forms for college students. Students can often use their IDs or student cards to get a discount on certain purchases, whether it be in businesses around your campus or other services. Most online shopping services give discounts to students. Services such as Spotify also give students discounts to use their music streaming service.
College is the first big leap in life towards your future. However, it definitely does not have to be the biggest financial burden along with it. Making little changes in daily spending habits can take some relief away and college can become a far more enjoyable experience.