Oh, the joys of being a broke college student. How I remember the days of living on a work-study salary and “grocery shopping” at home whenever I visited. For most college students, being broke comes as a component of those four years. However, there are still ways to budget and save money while in school. Since it is the start of a new school year, there is no better time to put these tips to use than now.
- Look for student discounts in grocery stores and drugstores, restaurants, online, and more. To receive the majority of these discounts, it is as simple as showing your student identification card. If online, you might need to enter your school email address. Many of these discounts are 10% off purchase, or possibly a free item. According to bestcollegesonline.com, some of the stores and businesses that offer student discounts or freebies include FedEx, Sam’s Club, Apple, Amazon (with Amazon Prime Student) Subway, Jiffy Lube, and AMC Theaters. Also, some places provide discounts for members of different honors societies. It never hurts to ask and you might be surprised at the amount of savings you can accumulate.
- Invest in reusable and versatile items. When it comes to packing for college, it is important to only pack items you need and will use. Make sure this includes reusable things, such as mugs, plates, and clothes. You will save space and money by bringing things that can be utilized multiple times. In addition, you will be able to create different purposes for these items. Lastly, invest in products that are durable and will last for at least four years. With clothing, look at your closet and think about the pieces that can be used for any season and any event. Sell the pieces you don’t need, no longer fit, or you haven’t worn in at least several months. That way you’ll have more money in your pocket and more space in your closet.
- Take advantage of school resources. Trust me, you don’t need to eat off campus for every meal. Put your meal plan to use and eat in your college’s dining hall. However, when choosing a meal plan, be realistic and don’t overestimate or underestimate how much money you’ll need. You don’t want to have too little or too much left over at the end of the semester. Keep a small stash of the necessities and snacks in your dorm room. It is helpful to have a small refrigerator to keep perishable items, for times when you are unable to visit the dining hall or campus store. Also, take advantage of the free services your school provides, such as workout facilities, computer and printing assistance, and student health. You don’t need to have a printer in your dorm; instead, print in the library. A simple tour around campus and a talk with student services will give you insight into the (free) resources offered. Lastly, colleges and universities provide transportation for one main purpose: to help students get around, and you need to benefit from it. Instead of wasting gas and time driving on campus, take your school’s transportation system from place to place. Another option is walking or riding a bicycle.
- Keep a spare change jar. I’ve been out of college for about three years and I still use this tip. Collect your leftover change from your wallet, pants pockets, backpack, etc. Then, every so often, count it up and cash it in at the bank.
- Budget and look for ways to earn income. Budgeting is a skill that comes in handy at any time and is never too early to learn. While in college, use apps and websites, such as Mint, to track your income and expenses. Having a job in college can be tough for some students, but it is possible. Other ways to bring in income is through your talents. Are you an excellent proofreader or could you tutor in your favorite subject? Think about how you can turn those abilities into money.
College can be a fun, memorable time in a person’s life. It can also be a time when money is tight. However, by putting the tips above into practice, any student will be able to have money in their wallet.