There is no denying that a college degree program can be an expensive investment, but it is just that – an investment in your future. Making good financial decisions is important throughout your college experience because those decisions will follow you long after graduation.
The following money saving tips can be of benefit to any college student.
1. Check for College Student Deals
Many colleges offer a variety of discounts for their students. For example, if you are looking to purchase software for your computer, your college may offer substantial discounts on products such as the Microsoft Office Suite or Adobe Creative Suite.
Many restaurants, movie theatres, apparel stores, fitness clubs and entertainment attractions offer discounts to college students who present a student ID.
2. Shop Around for Textbooks
While some colleges have moved solely to e-books, some students are still in need of textbooks for some of their classes. It is a good idea to shop around for textbooks to find the best price. Colleges often offer textbook buyback opportunities that can provide funds to go towards textbooks you need for the following semester.
Fellow students may also be interested in trading or selling their textbooks, which could be a better deal for you.
3. Utilize Student Bank Accounts
Avoid paying fees associated with checking accounts by signing up for a student checking account. These types of accounts can exclude withdrawal fees, minimum account balances and more. Some banks and credit unions also offer student savings account with similar benefits.
4. Carpool or Use Public Transit
If you are attending a college where you will be traveling to and from the campus several times a week, consider carpooling with fellow classmates. Setting up a schedule where you take turns driving to campus can be beneficial for all involved. Be sure to compare class schedules to ensure you and your fellow carpoolers need to be on campus during the same times.
Public transit is another great option for college students looking to save money. Depending on where you are attending college, transit options from buses to light rail trains may be available.
5. Seek Grants and Scholarships
Grants and scholarships are always something that college students should look into. There are many different opportunities for students. Check with your college’s financial aid department as they should have a list of available opportunities.
6. Plan Your Weekly Meals
If you are going to be on campus for one of more meals, be sure to plan accordingly as buying food each day can get expensive. Consider your meals each week and be sure to include snacks. If you are attending a college that offers meal plans, compare the plan costs to what groceries cost to determine if participating is worth the cost.
7. Find Appropriate Employment
Of course, if you are looking to make money while in college, getting a job is a great way to do so. Depending on how many classes you are taking or how demanding your class schedule is, part-time vs. full-time employment is something you should consider.
Some colleges offer employment opportunities to students on campus and will work with you to build a schedule around your classes.
8. Don’t Sign Up for Multiple Credit Cards
While credit cards can seem like a convenient way to purchase items you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, they can be dangerous. Signing up and using several credit cards can damage your credit score and set you up for financial hardship far beyond your college years.
9. Create a Realistic Budget
It is important for anyone to manage their budget and luckily it is not as difficult or overwhelming as you may think. The easiest way to do so is by writing down all of your monthly expenses and subtracting from your total income. This will give you a rough estimate as to how much “extra” money you have.
A better idea may be to use a personal finance service, such as Mint, which connects with your financial accounts and gives you a detailed look at your budget.