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It’s not easy to save money when in school.
Course fees can be thousands every semester or more, depending on the college. Books certainly aren’t getting any cheaper.
And even though cutting all unnecessary expenses is smart financially, we still want to enjoy ourselves. College is the priority, but there are also benefits to having fun on occasion.
Saving money while getting an education isn’t an impossible task. It just requires a full commitment.
It’s not something we can do when we feel like it. Successful savers turn it into a habit.
Ready to spend less and save more? Here are the best ideas we’ve found for students who want to save their money.
Choose Housing Wisely
There are two things we look for when it comes to housing:
- As close to campus as possible
The ideal situation is living with parents in a home near campus. Rent is usually the biggest monthly expense, and we can save quite a bit by living rent-free.
Living close to campus is just as important as what we pay in rent. Here’s why:
- Less time commuting leaves more time for schoolwork and a job
- We won’t spend as much on gas
- There’s less temptation to skip class when we have a short commute
If living with parents isn’t a realistic option, then we should look for room rentals or split a place with a roommate. These will both be much cheaper than getting our own apartment.
Cut Those Costs of Living
Minor adjustments in how we live can make a big difference.
If we run our heat all day during winter and our air conditioning throughout the summer, we’ll end up with costly utility bills. That doesn’t mean we need to shut them down and suffer. Turning them down a notch or two will keep us comfortable and cost us less.
It’s convenient to buy a coffee in the morning and a sandwich at lunch, but these add up quickly. Making coffee and meals at home is an easy way to save, and they usually taste better anyway.
A car usually isn’t the only way to get to school. Here are a few cheaper options:
- Public transportation, such as buses and subways
- Riding a bike
Limit Spending on Entertainment
Small purchases are the biggest hurdle when it comes to saving. It’s easy to rationalize these because of how little they cost.
Entertainment subscription services are one of the most common expenses that college students can cut.
Netflix runs about $10 per month if we want to watch in high definition (HD), and no one is satisfied with standard definition (SD) anymore.
What about music? The premium version of Spotify costs about $10 per month, as well.
If we want the convenience of Amazon Prime, the student version costs $49 per year, or just over $4 per month.
Alone, those little expenses may not seem like much. But together, they add up to hundreds every year.
How many of these do we really need? A Netflix or Hulu subscription is more than enough, and if our parents have a subscription, we can use theirs free of charge.
Many of the music streaming apps have free versions.
Students often forget about the library, but it’s a great source of entertainment. There are often movies available, TV shows and of course, plenty of books.
Be a Savvy Shopper
If we go to the store and buy everything we need with no research, we’re probably spending twice as much as necessary or more.
Fortunately, there are all kinds of ways to pay less for the products we need, such as:
- Buying generic brands instead of brand name products for food, toiletries and medications
- Renting textbooks or buying them used on Amazon, the campus bookstore or from other students
- Getting supplies off-season for a discount, such as purchasing a sweater in the summer since it will cost less then
Don’t Forget Student Discounts
Many businesses offer student discounts. It can pay off to bring our student IDs everywhere, as it’s an easy way to save 10 percent or more on certain purchases.
Some places even let students in free of charge. This is common with museums, where being a student often gets us out of the price of admission.
Credit cards can either be a useful tool or the fast track to debt. When used responsibly, a cashback card is a great way to earn money back on every dollar we spend.
Most cashback cards offer at least 1 percent cashback, and many earn higher rates in specific spending categories.
As a student, it’s harder to get a credit card, especially without stable income. There are still the following options, though:
- Having a parent cosign on the credit card application
- Paying a cash deposit for a secured credit card
- Getting a student credit card
The key with a credit card is paying the balance in full every month. This way, we avoid any interest charges while reaping those cashback benefits on all our purchases.
Be a Model Student
Tuition is almost always a student’s biggest expense, which means the best way to cut costs is by earning a grant or scholarship. Doing well will improve our odds of scoring financial aid.
Since we’re investing all that money, it’s in our best interest to go to every class and get our money’s worth. Absences can also negatively impact our grades.
Grades should always be the number-one priority. Not only do better grades improve earning potential, but it’s a waste of money to retake a class because we didn’t buckle down and study enough the first time.
Balancing a frugal lifestyle with being a great student, while maintaining some semblance of a social life, can be a challenge.
But the challenge is well worth it. When we use those tips to save money while attending school, it puts us in a better position later in life.