Affording college has been and always will be one of the biggest concerns for students. Budgeting in college encompasses much more than just finding financial aid; it includes daily expenses, like wing night and on-campus concerts. Students want and deserve the ability to spend their money on things that help them unwind after a long week of essay writing, textbook reading, and test taking, but you can still cut costs as you go.
- Open a free checking account with a bank that has locations in both your hometown and college town.
- Avoid overdrafts as best as you can, so opt to receive email notifications if your balance gets low. Overdrawing your account means getting slammed with overdraft charges.
- If you have an income from work-study or a job, set up automatic transfers into a savings account so that you have money tucked away for the future.
- Give yourself an allowance each week. How you spend your money might vary week to week, but with a budget, you can manage your spending more easily.
- Pay off your credit card the month you spend the money to avoid paying interest.
- Choose a meal plan that fits your lifestyle. Be aware that the suggested plan might not be the one that’s right for you. If you notice that you over or underspent on your meal plan during your first semester, adjust your plan for the following semester.
- Eat out for special occasions, not just to satisfy your cravings. Unless it’s 25 cent wing night or your roommate’s birthday, you’re better off hitting up the dining hall for a meal you’ve already paid for.
- When you go food shopping, ask about discounts on bakery and deli items that are expiring soon.
- Bring a list, stick to it, and pay attention to the prices at each supermarket that you are able to go to.
- Don’t food shop when you’re hungry.
Most students commit their money to a few things, drinking being high on the list. We don’t condone underage drinking, but if you’re of age, may as well save some money on it, right?
- Avoid bars and clubs with cover charges. Call the place beforehand and ask.
- Walk with your friends when you go out to stay safe and avoid paying for transportation or parking and gas.
- Don’t drink the fine wine. For the next four years, it’s Natty Light and Franzia.
- Buy those cheap drinks in bulk. It’s cheaper in the grand scheme of things.
- Eat before you go out to keep yourself from drunkenly purchasing 10 slices of pizza.
- Be wary of impulse purchases; they can be your downfall. Don’t save your credit card information on your computer. It’s easy to make impulse buys if you only have to click one button to confirm.
- Take advantage of free or cheap events provided by your college.
- Whip out your student ID. Find local museums, movie theaters, and parks that have free or cheap admission.
- Though working out is necessary for staying healthy, paying for a gym is not. Plus, you might have a free membership at your school’s gym anyway. No need for a second.
- Instead of taking a luxurious spring break trip, spend your vacation volunteering or study abroad next semester (you’ll more than likely be able to apply your financial aid package to the cost).
- Live with friends to cut housing costs in half.
- Break your habit of falling asleep with the TV on. Turn off window units or adjust the thermostat before you leave the house.
- Consider the basic packages for cable and internet.
- Take shorter showers.
- Don’t throw a raging party that will cost later. Damages in your dorm or apartment can result in fines.
- Shop where they offer student discounts.
- Sign up for coupons and subscribe to promotional email updates before going on a shopping spree.
- Buy clothes that will last but aren’t extremely expensive.
- Don’t follow trends. Go for wardrobe staples. They’ll last longer and be more versatile.
- Think about layers when you shop. What can you wear now and later with a sweater?
Pinching a few pennies here and there can really help you beef up your savings over time. Remember, it’s the little things!