As if moving away from home, having to adjust to a new lifestyle, and dealing with class schedules, course work, and exams wasn’t difficult enough—dealing money matters can strike fear into hearts of most college students. Even with scholarships and other types of financial aid, everything from food, textbooks, transportation and entertainment will cost you money. But don’t worry, here are some easy ways to save money and avoid the constant panic of being broke.
- Budget your money and get organized: Keeping receipts of everything you spend is a great way to monitor where your money is going. It might seem like a lot of work, but just try it for one month and at the end of it you will see where your money went. You will find that there are many ways to cut back on unnecessary expenses: Take your daily Starbucks coffee for $4 – that adds up to $120 per month! You will then be able to create a budget. Start with a general monthly budget, then split it up into different spending categories for each week. i.e. $50/week dining out, $50/week for entertainment, etc.
- Textbooks: Every college student has to buy books. New textbooks from university stores can be pretty expensive, and total costs per semester can go up into 4 digit numbers. So before you go ahead and buy new books from the store, ask classmates or anyone else on campus who may already have one. Ask them to share books or even borrow them. If you can’t borrow them, buy used college textbooks. Make sure that you keep the books you buy in good shape, that way you can sell them once the semester is over or you no longer need it. Another alternative is using ebooks or free textbook alternatives like Boundless, which also has great study guides and other helpful materials to ace your class.
- Food: Check out your school’s meal plan and compare food quality, how much and how often you eat, and how far away the cafeteria is. Make sure it will be worth it before signing up. When going to the grocery store, try to buy store brands and get free store membership cards to receive coupons. Also, do not shop hungry. You will buy more and hence spend more. Carry a snack like an apple or a granola bar in your bag. Be creative and team up with your roommates or friends to cook dinners instead of going to more expensive restaurants.
- Make use of Student Discounts: Many local stores and businesses will offer discounts to students. Your student ID will usually let you safe up to 15% on anything from movie tickets, to computers (Apple) and even hair cuts. Sometimes students discounts are not posted. In those cases always make sure you ask.
- Travel and Transportation: Instead of driving to class and spending money on gas and parking, check out if the college has shuttle services, which are usually free, or look into local bus or subway systems. If public transportation is not an option, try to carpool with friends, or combine your way to class with a mini workout and just walk or bike! When it comes to traveling, bus and train companies like Amtrak and Greyhound offer discounts for student travelers while STA Travel can get you cheaper flights.
- Find a job: If your busy class schedule allows some spare time, a part-time job is a great way to make some extra cash and will allow you some flexibility with your spending. There is a variety of things you can do, such as: tutoring, waitressing, volunteering for medical studies, and of course, saving up during the summer. You should also check out your college’s vacancies, where you can find jobs at the library or teacher assistant positions.
- International Student tuition payments: For all of those students who come to the U.S. from abroad, don’t bother with crazy bank wire transfers to pay for your tuition fees. peerTransfer processes tuition payments for international students without the hassle. It doesn’t only let you easily pay in your own currency with a few clicks, it lets you save money offering a best rate guarantee.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Alan Cleaver.
This is a guest post by Nadine Lubkowitz at peerTransfer.
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