I went shopping when I landed in my college town at the start of second semester. No, I did not go to book store to purchase my textbooks nor did I swing by the worn-down train wreck that is Omaha's Crossroads Mall. Instead, I went to the grocery store near campus and bought every ten-pack of ramen that I could get my hands on. During my first semester as a Freshman I was constantly going over my meal plan and had a bank account always in the red.
Fast-forward two weeks later and my shrimp-flavored Top-Ramen collection is gone and my sodium levels are through the roof. I realized that there had to be some alternative to this lifestyle. With further research I was able to turn my financial statements and diet around which helped my peace-of-mind and my heart/liver.
1. Skip The Summer School Bill, Check Out E-Learning
As a Marketing and BIA Major with interest in graphic design, I was all-in for taking a web design course over the summer. When I looked into the course through my University, I found out that it would cost me almost $3,000 for one class. This almost criminal cost for a foundations-level course forced me to explore inexpensive, digital options.
The alternatives that I found were Udemy, Skill Share, and Lynda, all of which offer inexpensive courses ranging from the Adobe Creative Cloud to ethical hacking. While these courses do not provide college credit, they do allow students to dip their toes into a wide-variety of careers paths without a financial splash.
2. Get Off The Meal Plan And Learn How To Cook
In all honesty when I first entered college I could barely microwave popcorn without burning it. I loved the idea of cooking for myself but I had no idea what to buy and how to make it; fortunately, we live in the 21st Century where we can have access to world-class culinary artisans. With the help of YouTube, Gordan Ramsey, and a few FaceTime calls to mom I was able to make meals slightly above Top-Ramen. If I can turn things around, so can you.
Eating out on weekends with friends or a significant other can also drain your savings. Instead of going out to that local sushi joint, pick up some supplies and invite your friends over to work together to make a few sushi wraps. Your bank account will thank you and who knows, it might even be more fun!
3. Utilize Student Discounts
Corporate executives and marketing strategists were once in our shoes, they know that college students don't have much of a spending budget. In order to tap into the collegiate marketplace, they know their company has to either offer product and service efficiency or discounts. In the case of Amazon Prime Student, they offer both. Through Amazon Prime Student, college attendees are offered a reduced monthly rate, two-day shipping, discounts on all "Prime" items, and even a free six-month trial. College finances can often be very stressful, but discounted services like this can make it slightly more bearable.
College students can also utilize websites such as Unidays which showcases tens of thousands of discounted goods and services. I've used the website several times and it displays a wide variety of discounts, from Apple Music to $10 delivery with your local pizza joint. Unidays is completely free and only requires a working .edu email to signup. Think of it as a Google for anything and everything you would want to buy in college.