As a college student who is paying for her own college education, saving money in college and cutting down on expensive things has almost become a part of my routine at this point. Though it's only my second semester attending university, here are some things I learned from the get-go.
1. Buy or rent used textbooks and sell your books from last semester.
The College Board estimates that students spend $625 per semester for books and supplies at public colleges. When able to, you could cut down these costs by purchasing cheaper textbooks or renting from Amazon or Chegg.
Here's a list of ten more places to find textbooks for cheap! Look out for book scholarships at your university as well!
2. Limit the number of times you eat out monthly.
By eating out rather than using your meal swipes at dining halls, you're spending money that you don't need to spend instead of getting what you already paid for. Though dining halls seem to always be notorious for unsatisfying dishes, you could spice things up by buying some essentials at your local grocery store or market and adding them to your dining hall meals. For example, you could buy your favorite dressings or spices to add to those bland-looking salads or proteins.
3. Cut out the vices, especially smoking and binge drinking.
It's estimated that college students spend $5.5 billion on alcohol every year, which sums up to each student spending $600 to $900 a year. That figures out to about $2,400 to $3,600 over their college career. Not only do vices like binge drinking come with a financial price, but they also come with a price to your health and academics as well.
In a national survey, college students who binge drank alcohol at least three times per week were roughly six times more likely to perform poorly on a test or project as a result of drinking (40 percent vs. 7 percent). By avoiding these harmful substances, you could create healthier habits, as well as more financially smarter ones!
4. Use a campus gym instead of a gym in town.
Many colleges offer memberships for free or at a reduced rate for students and many universities include a gym membership within your tuition. If you're a high school senior and an avid athlete, be sure to look for universities that offer these reduced prices.
5. Go to class.
If you're a college student, you're paying for this education, or your parents are, but still. Skipping classes is like throwing money out the window. According to USA Today, each skipped class session at a public university is $30 while each skipped class session at a private university is $104. Though things are different during the pandemic, still make sure you're showing up to Zoom classes.
6. Make your own coffee.
This is a huge one, especially for college students. You're staying up late, running around campus, getting up early for 8a.m. classes. But rather than going to Starbucks every morning or even multiple times a day, considering investing in a Keurig. Buying coffee is an expensive habit, costing you between $19 (6 times a month) and $96 (if you go every day) a month. With the money you would be spending on overpriced coffee, settle for buying your own coffee machine.
7. Consider becoming a resident assistant.
Many resident assistants get free room and board in college. Rather than spending money on room and board, you could save it and put it toward tuition or supplies while also potentially getting a stipend. If you're a senior in high school or a freshman in college, start planning ahead to save some money through this option.
8. Wait to get a pet until after college.
We've all heard about this scenario before: a person and their housemates finally buy the dog they were thinking about getting for months, only to not have the time or money to care for it. This one might sting, but pets can become very expensive.
From having another mouth to feed on a daily basis to paying veterinary and grooming bills, this might not be an option for students who don't have extra money to spend. If you love animals or are missing your family's pet at home, you could look into shelters surrounding your college that need volunteers.
If you go binge drinking on Saturday night, then wake up on Sunday morning and buy coffee from Starbucks and a McMuffin from McDonald's, try considering these tips. Not only could these saved expenses be spent on treating yourself and others, but you could also feel better about how you spend your money.