Fortunately, there are many solutions to saving money and make budgeting it a bit easier. Here are the top eight.
- Don’t buy new / look for discounted options: The odds are that after the one course you bought it for, that textbook will never be used again. And in today’s modern age, electronics are nearing the same shelf life. There’s no sense in overspending for something that is shiny and new but will probably be outdated by the end of the semester.Look into borrowing books from previous students, or from the university library. Also, look into buying discounted electronics or seeing if your library allows you to borrow electronics. Many laptops, for instance, can be found in “open box, like new” condition, but the open box knocks down the price quite a bit. Many of the major computer manufacturers like Apple and Dell also offer student discounts.Bottom line – don’t pay full price for your text-books or school electronics.
- Keep an eye on the dates for applications: If you were able to lock in a scholarship, be sure to follow up if it renews each year, provided your application is submitted on time. Also, there are also new opportunities for college funding that arise each year. Scholarships are by no means limited to when you’re entering college.
- Focus on the classes: Most students expect over the years that they’ll have to be at college for whichever degree that they want. Be it an associate, bachelor, master, or even doctorate degree, keeping focused on classes so they don’t have to be repeated is an easy way to save your sanity when juggling college and money.
- Limit the off-campus expenses: Things like eating out, housing, and coffee add up quickly. Many universities offer a food plan that can cost a little extra on top of tuition but can save money in the long-run.Whether you opt for on or off campus, you can try to split the cost of rent with a roommate. Also, the more you can prepare your own food and make your own coffee, the more you will save, and you may be surprised by how much. A drink a day at Starbucks will easily add up to $100 plus a month that you don’t actually have.
- Shop smarter: Buying in bulk, such as from a wholesaler like Costco or Sam’s Club can help save on grocery bills. Buying groceries from a typical grocery store helps too. Plus, keeping meal foods and snack foods around will help curb impulse food spending. This is an easy way to supplement the not always appealing meal plan that the school offers, but also save money.
- Utilize campus amenities: Although the primary reason of attending college is for the knowledge and qualifications, many schools have recognized that they are a home away from home for their students and have included amenities like fitness classes or movie nights on campus. These can be accessed for free and can help save money.
- Forgo the car: When you’re busy running between classes and sometimes balancing a job, there’s no need to worry about the costs that a car can rack up, like repair bills, insurance costs, and gas.The odds are that you’re within walking or biking distance to everything you need. Using public transportation helps you leave a greener footprint and more green, even if it’s all plastic, in your wallet. Parking, especially in the urban areas that colleges are often located in can cost quite a lot too. There’s no need to worry about having a car available for long distances either, with carpooling options or companies like Uber.
- Refinance Student Loans: Even though most student loans don’t have to be paid back until after graduation, taking steps to make them less of a future problem is a smart move to save money.Start by paying off interest now, by either making interest only payment or paying down on the principle that you owe. It’s estimated that most graduates will have to deal with between 30k-40k in student loans. Just because you haven’t graduated yet, seeking out companies to refinance student loans today is a money-saving move. You may secure a lower interest rate, which can lower future monthly payment and help simplify things. Accruing debt from college is fairly expected, but it isn’t necessary to overpay if you don’t have to.
By being a bit creative and evaluating all of the things you spend money on or will have to spend money on, it is easy to find ways to cut your budget down. Many expenses thought of as necessary are not or have a less expensive alternative.