Financial Preparation

Money Saving Tips for College

Starting college is one of the most exciting and important experiences in a young adult’s life. It’s a time to take everything you’ve learned in high school, from your parents, and from living so far, and venture out on your own. If you’re attending a college far away or out of state, staying on campus is a whole new world of freedom and independence.

stack of dimes

But, going off to college is also a time of learning new skills and maintaining your responsibilities. Between classes, extracurriculars, and a social life, you might not have time to work a lot, making money for you living expenses. Part of learning to be responsible is also about learning to make smart financial decisions.

Spending wisely doesn’t have to be complicated or overly difficult. Here are a few simple things you can do to save money in college:

1. Used where you can

Even if you’ve gathered everything you think you need for college, you’re probably not totally prepared. Things like textbooks and other extras for classes cost a lot of money. Also, furnishing dorms or off-campus housing can be an expensive task. Go used where you can to save money. Buy used textbooks on Amazon, and shop for used furniture at thrift stores or on exchange sites like Craigslist.

2. Make it yourself

Stopping for a pick-me-up cup of coffee and breakfast sandwich on the way to class is a great way to start your day. But making this a habit can really cost you. If you spend $10 every morning on coffee and breakfast, that’s over $50 a week, and $200 a month. Wouldn’t you rather use that extra $200 somewhere else? Brew your own coffee at home and take it to-go in a travel mug. Stick to the dining hall (or making your own) for breakfast to cut the costs.

3. Cut the extras

Between classes and activities, you’re probably busy enough. Do you really need the best cable package with 1,000 channels? Instead of paying for the highest cable and phone packages, downgrade your services. Also, ask for special student discounts on these services. You can often get even more discounts just be explaining your situation.

4. Use the amenities

outside view of a college campus building

You might think all the cools kids live off campus. But sometimes living off campus isn’t smart. With an apartment, you also have to pay things like electric, water, heat, and more. You also don’t have access to a meal plan or extras like the gym or facilities. Living on campus doesn’t seem so bad when it can save you thousands of dollars every semester.

5. Make a budget, stick to it

Most young adults don’t budget because they don’t know how to. Using an out of sight, out of mind philosophy with money management is the worst thing you can do. Ask your parents or older siblings for help creating a real budget. Also, when it’s time to pay taxes, don’t fly by the seat of your pants. Use a tax preparation service to file correctly. A tax service can help you find education expenses to claim and ensure you’re doing it the right way.

6. Go to class

When mom and dad aren’t around to keep tabs, you’ll be tempted to cut class and let your responsibilities slide. And when you have to wake up early for a morning class, you’re not thinking about the bigger picture. Which is why skipping a few classes here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal. But, you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars a year for your education – so use it. Don’t let laziness and a social life get in the way of your investment in your education. The last thing you want is for your investment to suffer from your irresponsibility.