How to Save Money in College: 20 Best Tips

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Being a student comes with a ton of expenses. According to research, for the 2020-2021 academic year, public two-year in-district students spent an average of $18,550, while private four-year students spent $54,800. 

Most of this cash is spent on tuition and reliable online homework help websites such as EssayPro or Studybay. The rest goes to accommodation, food, and leisure. Is there any room for a student to save?

According to Max Malak, a business consultant, there are several avenues for students to save cash. Here are some clever ways to cut down on your spending as a student and save more for later.

  1. Buy Used Textbooks

Textbooks are costly and account for one of the largest spendings after tuition. Therefore, before going to the campus bookstore and buying a new textbook, consider borrowing one from the university library or a fellow student. If that’s impossible or too inconvenient, then purchase a used textbook.

Used textbooks offer more value since they cost less, and you can still sell them to enrolling students as they join college and recover most of your cash.

2. Make Use of Your Student ID

Most brands and businesses favor students. They get great discounts on most items at various stores, including food, clothing, and tech. Therefore, ensure that you always have your student ID when shopping or making a purchase at a physical or online store.

For instance, Apple, Adobe, and Autodesk have great offers for their products when you buy using your student ID. 

3. Use Credit Cards Sparingly

Your credit score as a student is essential for better access to cash while in college and a better financial future with financial institutions. If you opt to get a credit card while in university, ensure your spending is as lean as possible.

Moreover, choose credit cards with very low interest rates, such as no-fee student credit cards. They help you avoid hefty late fees and accruing expensive credit card debt that can damage your future credit score.

4. Choose Affordable Housing

Living in dorms is often cheaper than off-campus accommodation. If you have to live off-campus but are tight on budget, consider getting a roommate. You can split accommodation and, if possible, food costs for more affordable living.

5. Use Cashback and Rewards Programs

Cashback and reward programs are an excellent avenue for reducing your spending on essentials such as food by earning money every time you spend. For instance, some stores such as Rakuten and Payce allow you to earn cash for items such as laundry detergent, snacks, and food. 

You can cash in the rewards later after spending on the stores.

6. Cook Food Often

Most college students use meal plans. However, a few unlucky people can’t afford to pay for campus meals. In either case, cooking food is the more affordable option. Besides expensive university meal plans, eating out can also quickly burn a hole in your pocket.

7. Use Freeware and Shareware Applications

Most software companies bundle their software either as freeware or shareware. Freeware is software that’s bundled free for all users, while shareware is initially bundled free but costs money for later upgrades and extras.

Using either of these will save you cash and give you ample time to save for an upgrade in the case of shareware.

8. Make Use of All Campus Amenities

Most universities bundle free or affordable amenities with their fees. These include free or discounted healthcare, childcare, activities, counseling, or a library. Make use of these amenities whenever possible to avoid spending a lot of cash on them outside the facility.

9. Buy a Bike Instead of a Car

A car offers a lot of conveniences, but that comes at a heavy price in terms of initial costs and recurring car maintenance fees. If you live far from campus and need a reliable means of transport, consider getting a bike instead. If available, you can also use public transport if you live far from the campus.

10. Take Less Bottled Water

Bottled water can become quite expensive to buy in the long term. One study shows that it can cost upwards of $1,095 annually to buy bottled water compared to a minimum of less than a dollar annually on tap water. 

11. Use Comparison Sites

The internet is great for students to learn and save money. Before making a purchase, you can visit several price comparison sites and select the most affordable retailer. These sites can also give you an idea of how much a product or service you’re about to buy from another third party should cost.

12. Get a Job in College

Most college students have to work while studying. Getting a job earns you extra cash while teaching you invaluable life skills such as business communication and problem-solving, which you’ll use later in your career.

13. Avoid Being Late on Payments

Late fees are not only expensive but also cause your underlying balance to inflate as well. For instance, the bank can increase the underlying balance by $30 for each payment you miss. That’s a lot of money for a university student. 

14. Create a Solid Plan for Your Classes and Degree

Before joining college, ensure you have a concrete plan for your classes and degree. You should spend little time shuffling through classes, trying to find “what you love.”

You should also try avoiding extra classes or semesters. They’re often quite expensive and consume a lot of your precious time.

15. Be Careful with Student Loan Borrowing

It is impossible to avoid taking student loans with inflating education costs. However, be careful how much you borrow. Too much borrowing can strain your budget, leaving you with little to save. Also, remember that student loans balloon into your life after college, affecting how much you earn while working.

16. Avoid Impulse Buying

Impulse buying is one of the leading causes of overspending. You can easily buy food or clothes out of boredom, cutting deep into your monthly or semester budget. Instead of buying on impulse, work with a strict budget that explores the more affordable buying options students get, such as discounts from particular stores or brands.

17. Use the Campus Gym

Most campus gyms are seldom well-equipped with the latest fitness tools. However, they cost far less and are often cheaper to access by foot compared to off-campus options.

18. Sell What You No Longer Need

Some of your property becomes redundant as you progress with your education, such as textbooks and other learning materials. You can recover your cash by selling these redundant items and decongesting your room in the process.

19. Attend All Classes

Paying for tuition is very expensive. Not attending classes is washing all that money in the drain, with the possibility of paying more later in terms of extra classes, tuition, or an extended semester. To be a budget-conscious and successful student, you must attend all classes and fully use the resources available during teaching hours, including your professors, lecturers, and tutors.

20. Avoid Buying Famous Brands

It is tempting to start having a fancy lifestyle while on campus. Resist the urge to buy famous brands until you have a steady career that can afford such brands.

21. Save Money and Be a Successful Student

You can be a bright and successful student by making wise money choices. You will save money and fully utilize the resources made available to you by the college, putting you in a better position to kickstart your career with less debt and a healthy credit score.