Money Saving Tips: 10 Ways for Students to Save Money
The words “broke” and “college” are often used in the same sentence, and if you’re a full-time college student with very part-time income, you probably have a tight budget. Maybe you have a student loan or parents helping with your tuition. But when it comes to everyday expenses, such as food, transportation, books and entertainment, you’re on your own financially. These expenses can take a large part of your pay and leave little (if any) disposable income.
Don’t whine about your situation, read the following money saving tips and take action. If you’re a starving college student, here are 10 simple ways to save money:
1. Ditch Costly Habits
Do you smoke? Hit the bar on the weekends? Drink expensive coffee? These expenses can quickly add up and eat at your income. Sure, gourmet coffee from a local coffeehouse is delicious and a great way to jump start your day. But at $5 a pop, you can easily spend $25 a week or $100 a month – just on coffee. Do yourself a favor and brew your own coffee at home. An $8 pack of gourmet coffee from the grocery store will last a month or longer.
2. Budget Your Money
Some college students spend uncontrollably, and then wonder why they’re short on funds at the end of the month. Aimless spending may feel like financial freedom, but it’s the complete opposite. This is the real world, and real adults have a budget.
Decide how you will spend your money at the beginning of each month. Allocate a reasonable amount for food, transportation, entertainment and other expenses, and periodically monitor your spending to stay on track. Sign up for online banking and daily check your bank account balance. Download your bank’s app directly to your mobile device and access your account anytime, anyplace.
3. Limit Credit Card Use
There’s a tendency to rely on credit cards when you’re low on cash – don’t. It’s okay to have a credit card. In fact, acquiring a credit card is one of the best ways to build a credit score in college. However, credit cards shouldn’t be your primary method of payment. Pay for items with cash and use credit for emergencies only. The less credit card debt you have, the less you owe creditors. This frees up your money, thus allowing you to save a percentage of your income. For more information, read advantages and disadvantages of credit cards.
4. Avoid the Malls
What’s your weakness? Clothes? Shoes? Electronics? Impulse shopping is exhilarating. But if you blow money on things you can’t afford, this might affect your ability to pay bills. Think twice before you make a big purchase. Consider whether you’re able to afford the purchase, and whether you need the item. Learn how to be patient and avoid impulse shopping.
If you’re unable to control your spending, identify your triggers. For example, if you shop when you’re depressed or bored, explore other ways to cope with your emotions. Start a project, call a friend or read a book – do anything that takes your mind off shopping.
5. Don’t Keep Up With Others
If your friends spend money freely, you may feel pressured to join the fun. Don’t let others decide how you spend your money. Everyone has different financial circumstances. Maybe your friends receive a bigger allowance from the folks or perhaps they earn more money than you. Then again, they might rely on credit cards and have a ton of debt. Stop focusing on how your friends spend their money, and stop trying to keep up with their lifestyles. Stick with your personal budget and spend only what you can afford.
6. Stay Home and Have Fun
You don’t have to hit the town to have a great time. There are plenty of fun and inexpensive ways to entertain at home. In all likelihood, many of your friends share your financial troubles, and they might enjoy a night in. Plan a game night, watch a movie, order pizza or simply hang out and talk. Go to a different friends dorm room or apartment and you’ll have a new place to visit on the weekends. Get creative with entertainment. Saving money in college doesn’t mean sacrificing a good time.
7. Look for Bargains
The idea of secondhand clothes might leave a bad taste in your mouth, but imagine the savings. Thrift stores are full of gently-used secondhand clothes, and if you’re looking for a good buy, these stores are worth consideration. You can buy what you need minus expensive retail prices. This includes clothes, shoes, books, furniture, home decor and accessories. You might also consider hand-me-downs. Get with a few of your college friends and trade old clothes.
8. Machine Wash Your Clothes
Whether you’re buying brand new clothes or secondhand clothes, look for items that you can wash yourself. Dry clean only clothes are a hassle, and at $3.00 a garment, it’ll cost $15 to clean five articles of clothing. Yet, you can purchase a $5 box of detergent and wash 20 loads of clothes on your own.
9. Ditch Your Car
Every college student wants his or her own ride. But when you factor in the cost of having a vehicle, it pays to ditch your car. This is especially true if you live and work on-campus, and everything’s within walking distance. Even if you pay cash for a junker, there’s still the cost of insurance, fuel, registration, personal property taxes and maintenance. You’re a college student and the last thing you need is extra expenses.
10. Learn to Love Discounts
There is really no reason to ever pay full price for anything. Go to a movie before 5 P.M. and you’ll pay $2 to $3 less, and if you thumb through your mail or the newspaper, you’re sure to find two-for-one coupons for local restaurants. Learn how to be frugal and shop for deals. Several restaurants and retail stores encourage email subscriptions. Sign up and have coupons delivered to your inbox.