There may be more sophisticated meals than a bowl of ramen noodles and a cup of cherry Kool-Aid, but when you’re in college, expensive dinners may be off the menu for a while.
And that’s okay. Most college students are on a budget, and if they’re not, they may be racking up credit card debt or working two jobs to make ends meet. Others may have hit the inheritance jackpot by being their grandparents’ favorite. (If only we could all be so lucky!)
Regardless of a student’s financial situation, here are nine money-saving tips smart students know.
1. They don’t buy brand new textbooks
Sure, brand new textbooks are glossy and smell like fresh printer paper, but buying new textbooks at full retail price is a rookie mistake.
Smart students will buy or rent used textbooks at a fraction of the cost. They may also borrow books from their friends and sell them online or back to the campus bookstore when they’re done with them.
2. They use their student ID for discounts
Nothing will get you a discount faster than flashing your badge — your student ID badge, that is.
Despite the unflattering picture an overworked librarian took of you, your student ID can be the key that unlocks the door to many student discounts. From computer software and insurance to gym memberships and cell phone plans, companies everywhere want to cut college students a break. Not sure if a company will honor a student discount? Flash the badge and find out!
3. They use budgeting apps
These days, money is harder to keep track of when it’s used in the form of plastic cards. A swipe here, a swipe there — who knows what the balance is by the end of the day?
Smart students use apps like Mint.com to keep track of where their finances are going and how much they need to save for specific purchases.
4. They pay their bills on time
Late fees are not pleasant, but fortunately, they are avoidable. Along with budgeting, students who never miss a payment due date are not only preventing unnecessary stress, but also a bad credit score. Setting up automatic payments is a great way to never miss a deadline on recurring bills.
5. They’re easily (and inexpensively) entertained
Not having enough money for entertainment doesn’t mean you have to be stuck at home staring at the ceiling. Smart students get creative with their entertainment by going to dollar movie theaters, visiting local parks and touring through museums.
Other ways students save on entertainment is by skipping the expensive cable packages (who needs 900 channels anyway?) and opting to stream their favorite TV shows through the Internet instead. Playing board games is another fun activity for the frugal student, since the only money spent is Monopoly money.
6. They share housing and utility costs with roommates
For many students, roommates are simply a part of life while they’re in college. They can be annoying, yes, but they can also drastically cut the cost of living when rent, utilities and other household expenses are split between two or more tenants.
This might be helpful to keep in mind next time your roommates leave dishes in the sink.
7. They buy generic brands
If you were blindfolded and given a taste of Heinz Ketchup and then a taste of Great Value Ketchup, do you think you could tell the difference? Most store brands mimic name brands so well that the only discernable difference is a well-known logo.
Smart students save a lot of money every month on groceries, clothing and other living essentials by skipping over the fancy labels and buying their generic equivalents.
8. They save on transportation
There are many ways students can save on transportation costs, including carpooling, taking the bus, walking or bike riding. Consider buying cheaper gas for your car and getting all your errands done in one afternoon so as not to be driving all over town on several different occasions during the week.
9. They shop at thrift stores
Macklemore isn’t the only one popping tags at thrift stores. Smart students find great deals all the time without stepping foot in a department store.
Check out this article that explains why you should be shopping at thrift stores, including the fact that they’re cheap, they’re chock-full of valuable items and, because they offer so much variety, they help you create your own unique style.