When you’re a student, you need to save as much as possible to pay rent, tuition, and avoid getting too deep into debt. Thankfully, there are some great ways to save money in college that can help stretch your budget further, while still enjoying college life. We’ve compiled the best financial tips for college students to help you get through your degree and still come out on top.
1. Make a Budget
As a new student, this may be the first time in your life that you’ve had complete freedom over your finances. Don’t let that power go to your head. Just because you can spend as much as you want, doesn’t mean you should. One of the best ways to save money in college is to set up a budget and develop a little self-discipline by learning how to manage your personal finances. Be honest with yourself when you overspend (it will happen) and make adjustments to your budget as needed. Budgeting apps like Mint and EveryDollar can also help you track your spending.
2. Save on Housing
A great financial tip for college students is to be aware of how much you are spending on your housing. This is easily one of your biggest expenses outside of tuition, but fortunately, you can control whether you pay a lot or opt for something cheaper. Sure a cheaper apartment may not have air conditioning and might not be the most beautiful place, but you’ll be on campus studying like crazy anyway—right? If you must have a nicer apartment, get some roommates and split the rent to save yourself some money, or become an RA—you can often get discounted or free housing this way.
3. Cook at Home
This will require you to learn a new skill, but cooking at home is a great way to save money in college. While eating out may be convenient and fun, you will save a lot if you plan your meals and cook at home. Another financial tip for college students is to pack your own lunches to save money as well. If you have roommates, you could even work out a way to split the cost of meals occasionally to save you all some money, if you guys are chill with that.
4. No More Lattes
Okay, so you don’t have to completely nix the lattes, but if you buy one every day, you’re spending a significant amount of money on a drink you can make for a fraction of the cost. Get a coffee maker of your own, a nice thermos, and pack your coffee with you.
5. Don’t Buy New Textbooks
Aside from tuition, a great money saving tip for college students is to buy used textbooks. There are a plethora of options when it comes to purchasing books for school. You can buy used books from Amazon, borrow books from friends who have already taken the course, rent textbooks from Chegg, or even find digital textbooks on iFlipd.
6. Find Cheap Fun
While it’s tempting to go out to parties, movies, or shopping trips, they can really cost you in the long run. A great way to save money in college is to find free or cheap fun. Thankfully, most universities offer fun things to do right on campus. Some campuses have cheap movie theaters or show foreign films for free. Other activities on campus may include student theatrical productions, school clubs, dances, or sports. Check with your school’s website to find out what events are offered by your university.
If you live in a town that consists mainly of college students there are likely to be fun, cheap things to do in your community as well. Check your local city website to find free concerts, farmers markets, and other activities as well.
7. Manage Your Debt
Going to school usually means that you will have some kind of debt to pay for tuition and expenses. Getting a credit card to help build your credit can even be a good idea when you are younger; however, you will want to be careful with what you spend. Don’t ever go over 30% of your card’s total limit, and make sure you pay off the balance each month to avoid interest fees if you decide to use your card.
If you already have a credit card and you’ve let it get out of hand, consider consolidating your debt with a personal loan at a lower interest rate. If you have student loans, you might also consider making interest-only payments while you’re in school. This can save you a lot of money when you graduate and might not be as expensive as you think.
8. Ditch the Car
As a student, a car can be a huge expense. Car payments, insurance, and gas all add up. Consider alternative forms of transportation. Many schools offer discounts for public transportation. If you live near campus, walking and biking are great ways to save money in college and might just keep off the Freshman 15 (or help you lose it).
These money saving tips for college students can really help you find creative ways to save money in college. College is an investment and can get expensive, but it is possible to live by a budget and save money. If you want to learn about more financial tips for college students, check out Lift Credit’s blog on personal finance and start saving money today.