Students aren’t exactly known for having bank accounts that are bursting at the seams. With the rising cost of college and escalating living expenses, the opposite is closer to the truth! Buying used textbooks is one common suggestion, but here are some other easy ways for college students to save money:
Couponing is a hot trend right now, but you don’t need to be a housewife who wants to save money to get in on the action. Even though you aren’t buying hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for a family of four every week, you can find plenty of money-saving coupons for college necessities like shampoo, toothpaste and soap. In addition to getting coupons from the Sunday paper, which is well worth the dollar or two you will spend to purchase it thanks to the money you will save from coupons; many chain stores also offer free printable coupons on their websites. There are even mobile apps that allow you to show a cashier a coupon on your phone!
Even if you don’t have any credit cards, withdraw cash from the ATM before you go shopping for food, toiletries, clothes, or anything else for that matter. It can be very tempting to spend more than you intended when you pay with your debit card. If you’re paying with tens and twenties instead of plastic, you will be less likely to toss unneeded impulse buys into your shopping cart.
Paying with cash also means you will accumulate coins. Clean out your purse or pockets each day and stash your spare change in a jar. The coins will add up over time and will come in handy at Christmastime, for birthday presents, or when emergency strikes and you need some extra money.
Buying in bulk can save money when buying items like paper towels, tissues and Ramen noodles—you can even share a big package with a friend and split the cost—but you should also resist the urge to buy single-serving snack items like crackers, chips, cookies and fruit snacks or other foods for your dorm. A package containing ten small bags of cookies will have you spending much more than one normal-sized box of the same exact product, which you could easily separate into plastic baggies.
If you’re a coffee fanatic, start paying attention to how much you are paying for those lattes and frappes. Even just three dollars per weekday translates into $60 per month! A cup of plain old regular coffee can set you back a few bucks, too. Make coffee in your room and use an Earth-friendly reusable travel mug. The same can be said if you drink at bars—cocktails can be pricy. In addition to watching your alcohol intake, watch your wallet.
If you’re eating in the campus food court you may not be able to use this money saving tip, but the vast majority of off-campus fast-food restaurants have meals for kids. The portion sizes are healthier and the price tags are cheaper. Many of these places offer free refills on soft drinks, too, so the kid-sized cup isn’t a huge deal.
Don’t forget to flash your student ID when you go shopping (shopping with cash, of course.) Many stores in college towns offer student discounts. Some museums, movie theaters, exhibits, and other special events offer discounts on admission, too.
Speaking of exhibits and events, college campuses are a great place to attend free stuff. Look on your school’s website or check with your student activities office for a schedule or calendar. Chances are good that there are plenty of free things to do when you’re bored, even on the weekends. You might think it sounds boring at first, but being frugal every now and then can help you have plenty of money when emergencies or other important things come up.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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