For me, college is not only a time of studying, meeting new people, and having new life experiences; it is also a time for being broke, spending outrageous amounts of money on tuition and books, and sometimes being forced to live paycheck to paycheck. I am always looking for new ways to save cash, so I’ve come up with 7 surefire ways to make sure you have some extra jingle in your pocket.
1. Buy used textbooks
If you are silly enough to go to the university bookstore and buy brand new textbooks, I feel bad for you. Too many freshman listen to what their college tells them and think that there’s only one or two places on campus to get the books they need. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Get used books however you can. Look at eBay and Amazon.com (the used section). Research beforehand what books you’ll need for the class before you get the syllabus. Then you can order them early and get them in time for the first assignments. Also, if you have any friends who took the class last semester or quarter, offer to buy their book. Firstly, they’ll get more money; because the bookstores are always incredibly cheap when it comes to buying back books, and you’ll save money because bookstores sell used books for obscene prices. Depending on how hard you work at it, you can save $100-$200 on used books alone.
2. Eat cheaply.
This is easier said than done, I know. However, I never cease to be amazed at the amount of college kids ordering pizza after pizza every night, and always going out to bars and just wasting tons of money. Yes, I know cafeteria food at college is terrible, but if you have a meal plan, use it! Eating out is just wasting money. If you can’t stand the cafeteria food, or you don’t have any sort of campus meal plan, than consider cheaper alternatives. It’s hard to cook, but I know that many Dorms on many college campuses have kitchens for students. Take advantage of this. I know it’s terrible for you, but eat Ramen Noodles if you have to. There are actually some pretty good ramen noodle recipes available. It may not be very healthy, but at least it’s significantly cheaper than going out to a restaurant.
3. Use public transportation (if you commute to school).
I know commuter students who drive into school every day. I don’t even want to think about how much gas this is costing them. At my school, all students pay a mandatory $9.00 bus fee at the beginning of each quarter and can then ride the public buses for free that quarter. Even if your school doesn’t have a program like that, utilize public transportation anyway, because it’s still cheaper! Not to mention, think about the parking pass situation. How many students have to shell out a significant amount of money just to park somewhere on campus that is semi-close (meaning in the same zip code) as the building where their class is? Avoid expensive parking passes and potential tickets, and avoid burning up all your cash in gas, take a bus, ride a bike, walk, car pool, do whatever you can to change your transportation habits and I’m positive you’ll say a lot of cash.
4. Pay off credit cards in full, on time.
Credit card companies charge outrageous interests on balances, and in late fees. Be smart and don’t over use that credit. The credit card companies want you to be in debt, so they will offer you huge credit lines. Don’t ever spend more than you can afford to pay off. If you are sending in or paying your statement online, be sure to do it on time, because the late fees are obscene. If you stay on top of credit card expenses, you will end up with a significant amount of extra cash each month. Unless your a mobster who can “talk” out of debts, you should pay those credit cards. However, if you’re in a pinch, there may be ways to talk down those payments.
5. Take advantage of student discounts.
My school offers students a variety of discounts on movies, plays, sporting events, and more. Just for being a student, you can get certain things more cheaply. I am amazed that more people don’t take advantage of the discounts offered. The university is essentially throwing savings right at our feet, and many people don’t use it. If your college has any sorts of discounts, use them. There’s no reason not to, and it will save you money, which can be helpful in the long run.
6. Stop buying CDs and DVDs.
Now, downloading copyrighted material is illegal. I’d never suggest it. However, what I will say, is that if someone were to use sites such as isohunt, demonoid, torrentspy, and more in order to obtain CDs and movies, they would probably save a significant amount of cash. Also, many college networks allow for the sharing of music on iTunes, but you cannot download the song, you can only listen. If you really wanted that new song, then you could download OurTunes or MyTunes (for Mac and PC respectively). However, that would be illegal, so I wouldn’t recommend it. The RIAA will arrest 5-year-olds, so a 20-year-old would be fantastic for them. That being said, if you did utilize those sites to get games, movies, and music, you would save money by not actually buying them, but once again, it’s illegal so don’t do it.
7. Buy less beer, or cheaper beer, and don’t buy much liquor.
Why is the cash always gone? For those college students who are lushes that like to go out every weekend, and always keep that fridge stocked with beer and liquor, I have one thing to say, SLOW DOWN. I wish someone would conduct a study on how much college students spend on alcohol yearly, I bet Budweiser has done one. In any case, think about curtailing your spending on beer. Even though it’s very terrible, buy cheaper beer like Natural Light, Keystone, and Bush if you can’t live without beer on a Friday. Better yet, only buy liquor on special occasions. One of my buddies would always keep his place stocked with Goldschlager, Hypnotic, Absolut, Everclear, and a bunch of other stuff that he didn’t need. The last idea is to just spend a few weeks or weekends out of the month not drinking at all. I know this may seem like a daunting task for some, but I’m sure you can have plenty of fun without it. I’m sure that your G.P.A. and wallet will thank you. Save your money whenever you can. If you have to, split costs among friends and buy cheaper stuff. Trust me on this, you’ll have a lot of extra cash for doing other, more productive things.
So there you have it, some financial tips to make sure you have extra cash at the end of each month. If that’s not enough for you, consider 180 tips to turn your life around. The best way to save money is to not buy things (I know, a startling realization). If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. This applies to everything, CDs, movies, luxury food, and even clothes. Hopefully you take my advice, and don’t think I’m a control freak because I love saving money in every way possible.