Save Money in College – Student Money Life Hacks
College kids and money are two things that typically don’t go together, it’s more like college gets and student debt that goes together. At such a young age it is the perfect time to start taking your financials seriously and learning about money. You’ll find that there are tons of ways to save money in college, some are very easy and don’t require much work or thinking.
I feel like I harp on this in every post, probably because it is so important. Budgeting is the foundation to good personal finance. Whether you’re a millennial or baby boomer, you should have a budget. It is better to start late than never but the earlier you start, the better. Millennials and college students have a huge advantage here.
Amazon Prime student
In my opinion, Amazon is towards the top of the lists of ways to save money. It is also easy to spend extra money if you don’t have self-control. Amazon Prime student is prime at a 50% discount for students, so you still get all the great features. They also offer a 6-month free trial. If you are unfamiliar with Amazon Prime, some of the great features are free 2-day shipping on many items, streaming of TV and movies, music streaming, unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos, and more. It is a great service and worth the money in my opinion, especially at the student discount rate. You’ll see I mention Amazon a couple times later in this post to get good deals.
This is one of my favorite ways to save money in college. With savings, it is better to start small than do nothing at all. People think you have to sock away a big portion of your income to save but that’s not true. I’ve mentioned it a few times now but that’s because I love it so much but Acorns is the perfect solution in my opinion. It’s an easy way to save because everything is automated so you just sit there and watch.
It may sound outdated or annoying but coupons are still a great way to get savings. You can use old-school methods of clipping from weekly flyers if you get the mail or use an app like RetailMeNot. RetailMeNot is great and I use it whenever I go out, before checking out I’ll jump on to see if they have any coupons for that store. Sometimes they have nothing but sometimes they have some good ones.
Don’t buy new textbooks
College tuition is crazy enough, on average, students spend around $1,300 a year on textbooks. There is no need to buy new books. There are options out there to either rent books or buy used. Let’s be honest, after you’re done with the class you will more than likely never use the books again. A couple of great options to purchase textbooks and save money areÂ eCampus andÂ RedShelf. You can buy new or used textbooks, rent, and even sell books back to them. It’s a great way to save a lot of money. Another great resource to buy used books is good ol’ Amazon. Make sure you shop around and compare prices before buying textbooks.
Save money on aÂ new laptop
In today’s world, your computer is your world in college. You will do everything on it. You may not even need textbooks because you can get etextbooks instead. So you need to make sure you don’t skimp here. At the same time, that doesn’t mean you have to overspend on a computer. There are plenty of resources to get a good computer at a competitive price. From refurbished resellers to companies that offer good discounts to students. I’ve put together a list of a few worth checking out.
- There are many more and I will be sure to update this as I find them.
Watch it with credit cards
Another one of the great ways to save money in college and life in general. Credit cards can be dangerous when you have little to no income and need to buy stuff. Buy now, pay later but if you don’t have the money to pay it off at the end of the month you’ll find yourself digging a deep hole. Make sure you stick with your budget and only buy what you can afford.
Limit eating out
This is one of the best ways to save money in college. Depending on where you are eating out, you could save money but you could also spend a lot more than you should be. If you are sticking to fast food places and ordering value menu items, while it may be unhealthy you’ll find yourself eating pretty cheap. And it also isn’t that unhealthy, if you stick to main menu items like burgers and avoid soda and french fries or other unhealthy sides, you’re ok. Plus, the soda and fries are expenses you should avoid. Get 2 burgers and a water instead of a meal deal.
Back to the point, you should avoid dine-in restaurants as much as possible. For one, they are generally more expensive, meals are typically $10-15 if not more. Plus, you’ll have the added expense of tipping. You could have 3 to 4 meals at a fast food place for the price of 1 dine-in meal.
Buy meal plan that fits your eating habits
Typical meal plans cost thousands of dollars per semester and most limit the number of meals you can eat per week. You need to take 30 minutes and go over the numbers and see if its a good option. Many meal plans are mandatory for a freshman but when you get the chance, see if it’s better to just pay for food yourself. Depending on your living situation, it might be better to grocery shop and make your own food. Maybe it’s better to eat Subway. Or maybe one of the meal plans is a good fit. You need to figure out what is best for you.
Choose housing carefully
Similarly to meal plans, some colleges require students to live on campus their freshman year, if they don’t live at home. But after, you might be better off finding an apartment off campus. Room and board typically range from around $8,000 to over $12,000 a year. You might be better finding an apartment when 2 or 3 friends and splitting the cost. You have to evaluate everything including transportation and whatnot to see what fits your budget best. You could probably get costs down to 1/2 of that living on campus.
Buy in bulk/split with roommates
A simple way to save money here, buy in bulk when you can. Lots of college students tend to use lots of the same thing so see what your roommates buy and if you can, buy it in bulk and stash it in your dorm or apartment. Savings may not be huge but everything counts when you’re in college.
Use campus amenities
Colleges offer tons of amenities for you to take advantage of. From libraries and computer labs to gyms and game rooms, some school even offer things like movie theatres and pools. So take a look at what they offer and see what you can take advantage of. You can save a lot of money by entertaining yourself with things you already pay for instead of going off campus to get the same things. So this could give you many ways to save money in college.
Get a coffee maker
This is a simple wayÂ to save money in college but it can add up to hundreds in savings every month. The average cup of coffee probably costs $2 to $3? Think about how much you spend every month buying coffee before class. I mentioned in a previous article about buying a good coffee maker and making your own. Get a nice big insulated coffee mug too so it stays warm for most of the day. If you want, take it a step further and calculate how much you save every month and invest it with an app like Acorns, now you’re not only saving but you’re investing too.
Skip cable – Use Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon
Straight up, there is no reason to get cable while you’re at college. Most of your time should be focused on your school work and studies, extra time should be spent working and enjoying the college experience. You’ll have plenty of time for TV when you get out of college. If you want to have some sort of TV/movie options, I would first recommend Amazon Prime as I mentioned multiple times earlier has several great benefits. If not, I would suggest either Hulu or Netflix. Both are good services and only about $10 a month which is a fraction of what cable costs.
Ditch car for public transportation, walking, or biking
In terms of ways to save money in college, this might be a little hard for some. Or it might be a way you’re actually saving money (living at home and commuting). There are a lot of costs that come with owning a vehicle such as the actual cost of the car, maintenance, repairs, registration, gas, etc. so if you can avoid having a car, it could save you a lot of money. If you live on campus, you really don’t need a car and when needed, you could use public transportation. Take a look at your situation and see what you can make work.
Ask for student discounts
There are tons of places that offer discounts for students, sometimes they advertise them but sometimes you have to ask. It takes 2 seconds to ask and could save you 10% or more. There are also lots of places online that offer student pricing with the use of a .edu email. So always look to see what a company offers and if you don’t see something, just ask.
Ways to Save Money in College Final Thoughts
As you can see, there are a ton of ways to save money in college and there are more than I haven’t even listed. It is important to start small and see where you can save money, slowly add more and more methods. Before you know it, your personal finances will be looking really good. Millennials face a significant challenge in today’s world of personal finance but it’s nothing they can’t deal with. Start early while in college and set up a good financial foundation.
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