10 Smart Ways College Students Can Save Money
Being a college student is, of course, an exciting time, one that’s filled with new experiences, friends, adventures, and the transition towards becoming a fully-fledged adult. However, there’s no avoiding the fact that it’s not exactly a time where you’ll be flush with cash. Quite the opposite: this may be the first time in your life when you really need to live with next to no money. Before college, it’ll have been your parents who looked after you; afterwards, you’ll have a job, and can pay your own way. The in-between stage when you’re actually at college? That’s when you’ve got to live frugally.
Fortunately, there are two things in your favor. The first is that at least there’ll be many other people in the same boat as you. The second is that it’s entirely possible to live a full life even if you don’t have a lot of money, and especially so when you’re at college! In this blog, we’re going to take a look at a few ways that students can save money. Take our tips, and you’ll have a great time without stressing (too much) about your financial situation.
Figure Out a Budget
The best, most effective way to improve your financial situation when you’re at college is to get a firm grip on things. The simple act of figuring out a budget can prevent many headaches from development. So how do you do this? It’s straightforward enough. Just take a look at how much money you have to spend each week or month (which is easier for you to calculate), and then take a look at your necessary expenses. Once you’ve covered how much you need for housing/food, you’ll see how much there’s left over for things like entertainment and socializing. So long as you stick to your budget, you won’t find yourself in any serious financial trouble (providing you’ve calculated it correctly).
Find The Cheap Spots
The good thing about college towns is that local businesses know that college students don’t have all that much cash to spend, and so they price things accordingly. There’ll be some places that offer discounts for students; it might only be 10% or so, but it’s better than nothing. You’ll find that there are a lot of deals to be had on food in cafes and places like the cinema. There’ll likely be specific student-only nights where there are reduced prices. Find out where these spots are, and you’ll never have any need to go to the more expensive spots. If you’re new in town, then just ask around — a student who’s in their second year will know all the best places to visit.
You might be used to driving from A to B, but if you’re going to be paying your own bills, then you probably won’t want to be spending all your money on gas. There’ll be times when it makes sense to get into your car, but as a go-to option, it’s best to be avoided. One of the smartest investments you can make as a new student is to buy a bike. Yes, it’s an expense, but one that’ll save you a lot of money in the long run. There are other advantages to having a bike, too — you’ll find, for instance, that you’re fitter and have a better sense of the city when you cycle as opposed to driving.
Growing up, it’s highly that you didn’t take the expenses of the home all that seriously. After all, you weren’t the one writing the checks each month. But now you’re on your own, you’ll need to get yourself prepared to reduce those costs. There’s no point spending extra money if it can be avoided! And in the home, it can most definitely be avoided. It’s easy enough to reduce your energy costs, for example, just by doing things like turning off lights when you’re not using them and drying your laundry outside, rather than in the machine. All these things require is a little bit of care, yet they can save you a significant amount of money each month.
Technology and Software
We’ve gotten this far into the article, and we haven’t even mentioned the primary reason why you’ll be going to college: to learn! And to do that in this day and age, it’ll be important that you have a laptop and other tech, and software to help too. When you tally up all these costs, it can be a pretty eye watering sum. However, don’t forget that there are always ways to reduce these costs. You might want to look at any help programs that your college offers. If there’s nothing that catches your eye, then look at buying second-hand. There’ll be a lot of laptops that are practically new, which cost much less than store-bought options. For the software, don’t automatically go for the big names. Instead, look at open-source software. This is free.
Of course, there are some expenses that are unavoidable if you’re going to live the college life to the fullest. For example, you’ll need a smartphone and a data plan. If you don’t, then you’ll find social life much more difficult — and who knows what you might miss out on? As with everything else, there are ways to make these sometimes expensive expenses much cheaper. You can use the same trick you used to get a laptop for a smartphone. You don’t need the latest iPhone; a recent model will do just fine. For your data, look at plans that are aimed specifically at students. Halfcooked reviews best Student SIM, so you can find the one that’s right for you. You’ll enjoy staying in touch with all your new friends much more when you know that it’s not costing you the earth.
We tend to think that everything is digital these days, but that’s not the case. While many of your materials will be hosted online, there’ll likely still be some textbooks that you need to buy. And truthfully, this can be a bit of a scam. Publishers know that students need their book for their course, and since they have the monopoly on the publication, they can charge what they want. That’s good news for their bottom-line, but a disaster for students, who have to pay even more to learn — and that’s on top of the already high cost of tuition. Fortunately, there’s a space where publishers can’t control the market: the second-hand market. Whatever book you need, do a local search. You’ll likely find that there are plenty of students from the previous year who are happy to sell you their used books for a fraction of the cost.
Going to college will be a series of ‘first moments.’ And in some cases, there’ll be people who are making their first meals. Their parents used to make them for them! As with everything else, new college students will discover that the cost of eating well can certainly add up to a pretty penny. But that doesn’t mean that they have to. There are many, many ways to save money on the cost of eating well. In fact, some of the healthiest ingredients are among the cheapest. So when you arrive at college, look up some cheap and healthy recipes, and hit the stores. Also, just the act of learning how to cook can make a big impact on your bank balance — if you only have limited skills, then you’ll end up getting takeout more frequently. And while that might look cheap, it all adds up!
Free Events and Activities
You’ll be studying a lot, sure, but who are we kidding? You’re also at college to have a good time. While there’ll be times when you’re happy to spend an evening at a friends home, there’ll be other periods when you want to do something fun and exciting. Alas, that can cost a lot, or at least it can if you’re not looking in the right place. No matter where you go to college, you’ll find that there are plenty of fun and cheap goings-on around town. Even things like museums and other cultural spots will have free admissions at select times. There’ll be a lot of free events during the spring and summer months, too. As well as free events, you’ll find that there are places that offer college student discounts for entry.
Forget the Brands
Yes, forget them! You might like to buy branded shampoo and things like that, but when money is tight, it’s best to go for the non-brand options. If it helps, they’re usually the exact same product, it’s just one has a famous name and one doesn’t. We understand that you probably won’t want to wear no-name sneakers and so forth. For that, there’s another trick: buy second hand. Actually, this is an excellent money-saving tactic that everyone should make the most of, not just students trying to save a few bucks.