Being a college student may sound fun and all, considering you get more independence and time to reflect on your own actions. But with all that freedom coming your way, there also comes responsibility. That, because you will have to fend for yourself financially.
Seeking post-secondary education is a very rewarding thing to do, but the costs of it are high. That’s why we think you should create some ground rules that will help you save money and manage your time in college just fine. Here are some of the most relevant college life hacks that will help you do that.
Tips to Save Money in College: Some Life Hacks for Students
Buy or rent used textbooks and sell last semester’s books
You can identify many of your fellow college peers who are probably doing the same. Of course, it is better to have some very important textbooks as your own. But if there are others that you think you’re only going to be using throughout one year, then rent them or sell them to somebody else. Besides that, try not to buy any additional school supplies. If you are determined to save, you don’t need fancy notebooks when you can write on your laptop instead. It’s even environmentally friendly.
Don’t make impulse-based purchases
You know those times when we shop simply out of boredom? Whether it’s food or clothes, try not to follow that instinct. For instance, do not go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. And if you’re going to shop, do it where they offer student discounts. Luckily, many places will provide discounts, and it’s enough that you have a school ID to prove you’re a student.
Try to reduce your drinking and smoking
Bad habits die hard, indeed. And it is tough to refrain from drinking once you’re all into that college life. However, if you set your priorities straight (while being sober), you will understand how significantly you can save by reducing either drinking, smoking, or both. It takes effort, but you could invest all that money in something more relevant, say, a trip on the weekend
Always pay bills on time to avoid late fees.
We’ve all been there. We have all skipped a round of bills to pay, wasting that money on something else. We think we will compensate next month, and when next month arrives there are new things that we need to cover financially. So to avoid this feeling of suffocation and chaos, make sure you pay your bills on time. Furthermore, if you have a credit card, pay it off as quickly as possible too. Clearing these things off can provide one with an enormous sense of organization.
Do not use a car
It may sound lifesaving, to have your own car and to be able to go places anytime you want to. But cost-wise, fuel, maintenance, and everything related to having a car is far more expensive. Instead, you can choose to walk, ride a bike, or use public transport. These things add up to a healthier lifestyle, keeping you active through the days.
Share your rent
There are countless benefits to sharing rent with other people. Except for the rent money, you will also split the payment for the utilities related or cable packages you all decide to use. Depending on if you’re sharing an apartment with friends or strangers, you can also plan joint meals and split the cost of groceries.
Make your own meals
If you are going to eat alone, then do it your way. Think long term, and stop surrendering to the fast-food industry. Find some time within the day to make your own meals, with the groceries you already have on your fridge. This way, you control your consumerist mind-set and decide to eat consciously.
Use your campus gym
The gym downtown may offer one or two fitness tools more than the one your college does, but if you’re trying to save, does it matter? If you’re really committed, then you can stay in shape using what you already have at your disposal. It is very convenient to use a campus gym, as many colleges offer memberships for free or at a reduced rate for students.
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Sell what you don’t need
You don’t want to add up more chaos to your room, by keeping things you simply do not use anymore. And why do that, when you can earn money by selling them! There are plenty of stores and websites that will allow you to do so, such as Poshmark and Craigslist. You can sell your used clothing, furniture, dishes, or tech items. Many students need cheap, used stuff as they are all on the same page as you – looking to save up money.
Attend the social activities from your campus
It may not sound like so much fun, but sometimes one has to take advantage of what your university has to offer. And they may turn out to be surprisingly fun. Many campuses have an array of museums, they organize movie nights and other social events for lower prices or, sometimes even for free.
Look for affordable spring-break options
You do not have to follow a crowd of classmates who are risking it all and wasting their money on an expensive spring break. What you can do instead is to search for more affordable places nearby, or even look for volunteering options abroad. There are many organizations in some of the most touristic places that can take you in for a certain time, covering your accommodation and food. You even get a fulfilling experience along the way.
Avoid keeping pets
As tempting as it is, getting a pet, maybe you should wait until after college. A pet can be very expensive, as it will feel like you will need to provide for two people. Not to mention the veterinary bills that will follow.
Attend all your classes
I know it sounds like a piece of corny advice, and you might be thinking what does this have to do with me saving money. Well, when you think about it, the fundamental purpose of your college experience is for you to absorb as much knowledge as possible. And by skipping classes for which you’re already paying for, it is not the smartest thing to do.
Stick to water
Whether the purpose is avoiding expenses or investing in your health, sticking to water only is your best possible alternative. It is free and keeps your brain flowing productively, which all those sugary sodas do not.
Make your own beverages
However, if you’re aiming for some sugary drinks or caffeine, get a blender and make your own drinks back home. You can even brew your coffee and store it for further usage, to avoid spending money on the coffee shops nearby. You must treat yourself every once in a while, though, as we know, it is hard to refrain from caffeine doses nearby while being a student.
Track your finances
Keeping track of where you spend your money is a life savior. To do this, you can use available online tools like Fin Aid’s Student Budget Calculator or the one offered by Mint.com. Once you see where and how you’re spending, you will certainly become more self-disciplined when it comes down to managing your money.
Avoid buying famous brands
You can procrastinate your fancy lifestyle when you have a career in place. But since you’re now focusing on your studies, it is more convenient to buy more generic items whenever possible. Surely you can get decent things with reasonable prices, that are just as good and healthy but that are not necessarily named by a famous brand.
College is hands down the best years of your life! Enjoy it while it lasts, and come out with as little debt as you possibly can.
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