Being broke and in college in most cases come hand in hand. It's hard trying to study, be social, and get everything you need without breaking the bank. Saving money is also hard when you have so many things tempting you to spend it; aka the school bookstore and staple go-to college restaurants.
So if you need a little help on how to save money, here are some tips to save you a few dollars:
Besides tuition (obviously), textbooks are pretty high up on the expensive list when in college. Some textbooks can be anywhere from $100-$500, just for one book. And the chances are you are taking at least four and up to six classes a semester. I’m not too good at math, but even I know that that is a lot of money.
Some textbooks are made especially for your school/class and are also workbooks, so you have no choice but to buy them. Other textbooks are online and you can not access some assignments without purchasing it. But not all hopes of saving a few bucks are lost. In the classes that don’t leave you stuck with one option, you can save some money.
What I always do is check online to see if free copies of textbooks and books are available to view or download. Sometimes you get lucky, but it is typically a long shot. So, having used buy-back textbook sites, I usually find myself on eBay or Amazon. They really do offer the best prices for what you need. Many big textbooks are available to rent, and can usually be rented for cheaper than if you were to get it on campus.
If you are taking english, history, or classes that require chapter books, then online buying is definitely the number one money saving option. You can get a used book for sometimes as low as a dollar or two.
Another money-saving textbook trick is to share with friends. This is a hard technique for freshmen, but as you continue on in your collegiate career the chances are you will be in a class with friends or people you know through multiple different outlets. Try to share expensive textbooks to cut the cost down. By doing this you’ll only pay half of what you would have and know you’ll always have someone to do the assignments with.
There’s no way to get out of buying textbooks and other required materials for college, but if you but a little work in you might save some money in the process.
This isn’t usually a problem for freshmen seeing that they live on campus and have meal plans. For all the broke boys (and girls) who decided to be adults and live off campus, food is now a personal financial investment.
AKA no Wings Over every Friday Night. *sheds single tear*
So now it's time to go grocery shopping, and buying food—if you haven’t realized already—is expensive. Yet, we must all eat so we must pay for our food. One thing I’ve noticed is that smaller markets can get pricey. Avoid buying a haul of groceries at these types of places and go to a bigger grocery store when buying your weekly goodies.
If you want to be even more frugal and can fit the time into your school schedule, try doing some couponing. I’m not going to say that I do it because I don’t, but for those who do they really do reap the benefits. If you believe this strategy can help you and you need to find a way to cut costs, go for it.
What I also do is buy enough food so that if I cook I have leftovers. Leftovers can actually save some money. You can pack them as a lunch to eat in between classes or have them the next day for dinner. It saves you from making more food, wasting more food, and taking more time to make another meal. So, save your leftovers.
But if you do want to treat yourself to a nice dinner out on the town, do not make it a habit. Also, many chains offer student discounts if you show your school ID. If you are in a college town and happen to be in a restaurant give it a shot, you might luck out.
If you’re anything like me (and for your sake, I hope you’re not) you like shopping. However, shopping requires money. What I have come to learn is that many companies and brands offer student discounts. All you have to do is show them a school ID and they will give you five percent, ten percent, and sometimes 15 percent off your purchase. So if you are in desperate need of a cute outfit but don’t want to pay too much, research before you buy.
4. Utility bills
For those off campus grown ups, really listen to this one. If you were not lucky enough to find an apartment with all utilities included, monitoring your usage of your utilities can save you some money. Do NOT leave any water running. Turn off ALL lights. Unplug ALL outlets. Taking the times to do all of these little things can actually save you more money than you think.