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College can be expensive, but it doesn't have to break the bank. There are plenty of ways to save money in college and stretch your budget. These tips will help you save on everything from textbooks to food.
So whether you are just starting college or almost done, read on for some valuable advice.
Saving Money You Already Have
To save money in college, you must first figure out how much you already have. Taking stock of your monthly income and monthly bills may seem like a no-brainer, but many college students don't take the time to do this.
1. Open a Free Checking Account:
Many college students opt for a free checking account. A free account is a great way to avoid fees and keep track of your money. Plenty of banks offer free checking accounts with no minimum balance requirements.
2. Use a Student Account With No Fees:
If you are a student, you may be able to get a checking account with no fees. Banks typically offer this account to students who maintain a certain Grade Point Average (GPA). A student account is a great way to avoid paying fees on your account.
3. Get a Flexible Part-Time Job:
Taking on a part-time job is a great way to earn extra money. But finding a flexible enough job to work around your class schedule is essential. Many college students work as bartenders, servers, or retail associates.
4. Do Not Rack Up Late Payments:
Late payments can damage your credit score. If you struggle to make ends meet, consider setting up auto-payments for bills. Autopayments make it so you will never forget to pay a bill.
Also, ensure you’re not falling behind on credit card debt, as the late payments combined with high-interest rates can set you back significantly.
5. Avoid Overdraft Fees:
It's essential to keep track of your spending. Link your checking account to a budgeting app. A budgeting app will help you stay on top of your finances and avoid overdraft fees.
Saving Money on College Expenses
There are plenty of ways to save money on college expenses. This section will discuss some of the best ways to save on tuition, textbooks, and housing.
6. Plan Your Classes Carefully:
One way to save money on tuition is to plan your classes carefully. You should consider the cost of each course before you register for it. Classes required for your major will typically be more expensive than elective classes.
7. Fill Out FAFSA Every Year:
Make sure you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year. This form can help you get grants and loans to pay for college.
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Most people don't realize that even if you don't receive any aid your freshman year, you may become eligible if your financial situation changes the following year.
8. Be Careful about How Much You Borrow For Student Loans:
Student loans can help you pay for college, but you must be careful how much you borrow. You don't want to end up in debt after graduation. Try only to borrow what you need and ensure you understand your loan terms before you sign anything.
9. Apply For As Many Scholarships and Grants As Possible:
There are plenty of scholarships and grants available to college students, so apply for as many as possible. You can find scholarships through your school, parents, employer, or online.
Don't forget that you can also apply for private scholarships!
10. Utilize All Free Services Offered on Campus:
Many colleges and universities offer free services to students. These services can include tutoring, food, counseling, and legal services. These services can help you save money on tutoring fees and therapy sessions.
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11. Do Research on Alternative Places to Purchase Textbooks:
Textbooks can be costly so be sure to research and find the best deals on books. One way to save money on textbooks is to buy them used. You can also look for online versions of books or rent textbooks from the library.
12. Sell Back Your Textbook After the Semester:
Don't forget to sell your textbook after you're finished with it! You can usually sell books back to the bookstore or online. Selling your textbooks is a great way to recoup some of the cost of your textbooks.
13. Print Any Papers on Campus:
Printing papers can be expensive so take advantage of any free printing services offered on campus. Many colleges have printers for students in the library or the student center.
Save Money on Food
Eating healthy food can be expensive if you don't try to lower costs. This section will discuss some of the best ways to save money on food while at college.
14. Take Advantage of Your Meal Plan:
If you have a meal plan, make sure you use it! If you don't have a meal plan, consider eating at the dining hall or cafeteria. These places usually have cheaper food than restaurants.
15. Pay Attention to Happy Hour and Deals At Nearby Restaurants:
Many restaurants offer deals and happy hours. So, it's essential to pay attention to these deals when you're planning your meals. You can save a lot of money by taking advantage of these deals.
16. Attend Campus Events that Provide Food:
Many colleges and universities hold events that provide food. These events can include speaker series, club meetings, and sporting events. Attending these events can help you save money on food.
17. Utilize Dormitory Community Kitchens:
If your dormitory has a community kitchen, make sure you use it! Cooking for yourself at the community kitchens is a great way to save money on food. You can usually find kitchen supplies in the dormitory lobby or the student center.
Save Money on Entertainment
In college, finding ways to entertain yourself without breaking the bank is vital. This section will discuss some of the best ways to save money on entertainment.
18. Attend Free On-Campus Events:
Many colleges and universities offer free events for students. These events can include concerts, plays, movies, and lectures. Attending these events is a great way to save money on entertainment.
19. Use the Campus Gym:
The campus gym is a great place to save money on entertainment. Most gyms have a variety of equipment that you can use for free. You can also usually find discounts on fitness classes at the campus gym. Colleges will also usually offer free memberships for first-year students.
Save Money on Transportation
In college, finding ways to save money on transportation is crucial. This section will discuss some of the best ways to save money on transportation.
20. Take Advantage of Student Discounts on Transportation:
Many colleges and universities offer student discounts on transportation. These discounts can include bus passes, train tickets, and plane tickets. If you're planning a trip, check for these discounts.
21. Find Deals on Travel Websites:
Many websites offer deals on travel. So, if you're planning a trip, make sure you check these websites for any discounts.
22. Use A Credit Card That Gives You Travel Rewards:
If you use a credit card that gives you travel rewards, you can save money on transportation. Many credit cards offer points or miles that you can use for travel. So, if you're planning a trip, use a credit card that offers these rewards.
Save Money on Off-Campus Living
If you're living off-campus, finding ways to save money is crucial. This section will discuss some of the best ways to save money on off-campus living.
23. Live With Roommates:
If you live with roommates, you can save money on rent and utilities. When you have roommates, you can split the cost of rent and utilities. Having roommates can help you save a lot of money each month.
24. Make Sure to Get a Good Deal on Renter's Insurance:
If you're living off-campus, get a good deal on your renter's insurance. Renter's insurance can help you save money if your belongings are damaged or stolen. Make sure to shop around and compare rates before buying renter's insurance.
25. Don't Go Overboard When Decorating Your Apartment:
Try not to splurge when decorating your apartment. There are many ways to decorate your apartment on a budget. You can find affordable furniture and home decor at thrift stores, garage sales, and online.
26. Choose a Strategic Location:
When looking for an apartment, choose a location that will help you save. For instance, if you choose an apartment close to campus, you can save money on transportation. You can also save money by choosing an apartment in a safe neighborhood.
27. Protect Your Security Deposit:
When living in an apartment, protecting your security deposit is essential. If you damage your apartment, you may have to pay for the repairs out of your security deposit. So, ensure you're careful with your apartment and don't damage anything.
28. Live at Home If Your College Is In Your Hometown:
You may want to live at home if your college is in your hometown. Living at home can help you save a lot of money on housing and transportation.
The Bottom Line
Saving money in college is essential. There are many ways to save money. Try out some of these tips and see how much money you can save.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
As a certified credit counselor and syndicated writer at MaxMyMoney, Max has coached over 250 Millennials to help take the stress out of money. When Max is not coaching, you'll find him reading financial books, indoor cycling, or visiting local pawn shops looking for swiss-made watches.