College is an expensive proposition, even if you have a scholarship, aid or parental financial assistance.
We’re not claiming that the following 10 ways to stretch your budget while at College are all easy, but following this advice can make your money go further.
The biggest mistake most College students make when it comes to money is failing to have a plan. You can go as far as having a formal budget, but even a basic plan of where your money goes can help you with your long term financial needs.
Get rid of your car
Cars are great to own, but they’re also a sinkhole for money, from registration through to maintenance, insurance and sometimes even parking. Most College campuses have public transportation, and there’s always the option of walking, riding a bicycle or using ride-sharing services instead.
Buying lunch of campus, or even regularly buying any of your meals can quickly run up a big food bill where as you could be saving money and even eating more healthily by making it yourself. Learn to cook, take a packed lunch, and seek out food co-ops and bargain supermarkets. If you share food in a dorm, or you’ve got some extra storage space, consider bulk purchases from outlets such as Costco: the savings quickly add up.
Buy Textbooks cheaply
Buy used books where you can, and with all book purchases (new and used) keep them unmarked and in a great condition so you can resell them at the end of term. There’s also a growing number of options for digital versions of your textbooks, so hit Google as well to try and save some money.
Credit cards are pushed at College students like drugs to addicts, except the former is legal. Credit cards are not your friend and try to avoid obtaining one if you can. If you absolutely must, look for a low interest rate, low limit card so your debt doesn’t get out of control and becomes unmanageable.
Resist impulse buying
It’s tempting when you have money in your pocket (or a credit card) to impulse buy something when you’re our shopping in the mall or local stores. Try to resist impulse buying, and if you do buy something you later regret, don’t be afraid to return it.
The internet is your friend. When you do need something the chance is that you will find it offered somewhere online at a cheaper price. Browse at your local stores by all means, but be sure to check the price online before you make your purchase.
Set aside a fun budget
Just because you need to save money doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to some fun. Set aside money on a weekly or monthly basis so you can go out and enjoy yourself
The job market is difficult but that doesn’t mean that work isn’t available: even if it’s a couple of hours a week it all adds up. Tutoring (other College students or High School students,) music lessons, baby sitting, yard work…there’s always someone out there who needs a hand.
Pay your bills on time
Late fees can blow your budget alone, so it’s important to pay your bills on time. Paying your bills on time is also an investment in your future as it helps you establish a good credit history for when you finish College and want to rent an apartment, buy a car or even start a new business.