College can be a stressful time, especially when it comes to finances. Surveys have found that personal finances are the biggest source of stress for students. Around 70% of college students worry about their money, with many concerned they won’t be able to cover their tuition or even monthly costs.
But with some smart planning, there are many ways you can save money and cut down on college costs. Here are some smart personal finance tips for students.
Get Textbooks For Free
Textbooks can end up costing you hundreds each year if you’re not careful. There are, however, tons of ways to get them for free. Try visiting your school library first. If you can’t find the book you need there, check out local libraries or even ask a friend if you can borrow theirs.
You could also look for PDFs on Google or take to sites like OpenLibrary.org and TextbookRevolution.org. You could end up with a few hundred dollars extra each year by saving on textbooks!
Save Money on Groceries
Grocery bills are often a silent killer for your finances. While they are a necessity, it’s easy to spend too much, and doing it weekly will add up fast.
Instead of buying fresh meat and fruits, buy frozen. Look for cheaper store brand versions to expansive branded products- they often taste the same at a much lower price. Cut out the things you don’t need or the things that are likely to expire. If you can reduce your bill by $10 each week, that’s $520 over the course of a year you can save on groceries. You can also try apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 to get cash back on your groceries. Here is a good review of Checkout 51 that explains how this cash back app works.
Create A Weekly Budget
If you haven’t started budgeting, now is a perfect time. You might not realize how much you’re spending till you open up your bank account and realize you’re down another $50.
Instead, make a budget each week to figure out how much you have to spend and how to allocate it. If you have a loan to live off, divide it by the number of weeks you’ll be in college so you can spread the funds wisely. Apps like Personal Capital can help with budgeting and also keep track of your Net Worth.
Don’t Party Too Much
College is the perfect time to meet new people and socialize- but be wary of your bank balance. Partying all the time can end up costing you hundreds each week, so chill out if you need to save money.
You could always try alternatives like hanging out at home with friends or making use of cheap cinema deals and student-discounted meals if partying is burning a hole in your wallet.
Look For Scholarships and Loans
You may be eligible to a loan or scholarship and not even realize it. Many universities offer these on the down low, so do some digging and see what’s available to you. It can help to talk to your student financial support department, they’ll be able to give you any information you need.
Some loans are given out by third-party companies. Look online and see if you can get a good deal to help you manage the costs of college.
Find Cheap Accommodation
Living on campus is great. You get to meet new people, have a short walk to class, and live right in the heart of your college. But it can also be expensive.
Many people save a significant amount by looking into private property. There are many affordable student properties located close to campus which can work out a lot cheaper. Sites like Student.com can help you find affordable accommodation near you.
Use Student Discounts
As a student, you’re privy to a whole range of discounts from different stores. A lot of stores and restaurants will advertise student discounts, but it also doesn’t hurt to ask, especially in big chain stores.
You can also get Microsoft Office for free and Amazon Prime for a much cheaper cost. It’s also worth looking into the International Student Identity Card at MyIsic.com for extra discounts.
Find Cheap Transport Methods
Transport is another cost that can add up fast. Look online for the cheapest buses, trains, and metros. If you’re a driver, giving it up can help with the costs of college. If you live on a campus close to the city, sometimes a bicycle is all you need.
The Uber app can also help here. If you need to make a car journey, taking an Uber is often much more cost-efficient than other methods.
Loans and grants can only go so far. Some students cover their college costs by getting a part-time or casual job. This is a great idea as you’ll have extra money for your budget each week. If you do not have time for a part-time job, their are several ways to make money online in your spare time.
Many companies look specifically for student employees. Things like cafes, restaurants and retail stores let you schedule work around your studies and exams. You could also find jobs such as mentoring or essay writing for extra cash on a casual basis. In addition their are several online jobs like free lance writing that you should consider.
Lower Your Phone and Utility Bills
Your smartphone can end up costing you a lot in the long run. Make sure you compare and negotiate your phone contract so you get the best possible deal. You might be able to save an extra $10 a month or so by threatening to cancel. It can also help to get a SIM-free pay-as-you-go phone instead of a monthly contract.
The same applies to all of your monthly bills. If your rent is too high, try negotiating it with the landlord. Go online and compare deals before you rush into an internet plan. Compare internet offers in your area. This can sometimes save you hundreds over the long term.
Share The Living Costs
College is all about meeting new people and being social. A lot of the time, your friends will have the same financial problems you do. Sometimes the best approach is to help each other out.
Students commonly buy apartments together so they can split the cost of rent and bills. The more people you live with, the less you’re likely to pay. You could also propose a house budget to cover essentials like cleaning products. You could even shop together and share the price of your groceries if you eat together often.
Ask For Help
If you’re really struggling with the costs of college, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Loans might help, but there are also people to talk to when your finances are weighing you down.
Most colleges have a support department to help students with their finances. They may be able to help you with reduced dorm costs, information on grants, and financial advice. If you’re really stuck, don’t be too proud to talk to your parents. In many cases, they’ll be happy to help you pay for costs of your education if you use the funds wisely.
Get Acquainted With Your Savings Account
Now you’re a student, you need to start building financial habits that will benefit you throughout your life. One of the best things you can do is learn how to save effectively.
Savings accounts help you put money away for when you really need it. As an added benefit, you’ll also earn interest on all the money you save. You could get an extra couple hundred dollars a year or so. Find a good savings account and start putting as much money into it as possible. Don’t touch it unless you really need it and enjoy watching your savings grow.
Buy Second-Hand or Refurbished
When you’re trying to save money, it helps immensely to start buying everything you can for cheaper. You can make enormous savings by looking for cheaper products online.
For instance, laptops often get huge discounts if they’re manufacturer refurbished. You can find these on sites like eBay and online outlet stores. You can also buy second-hand clothes, gadgets, and other products for big savings. Look on Craigslist, Facebook, eBay, and other sites whenever you need to buy something. It’s a little change that can result in massive savings.
Cut Out Unnecessary Costs
When you’re out on your own for the first time, it can be tempting to spend willy-nilly. But remember you need to save your money, so cut down on unnecessary costs.
If you’re spending $30 a week on takeout food, try eating homemade meals for a few weeks. Not only will you save a lot of money, but you can also learn to cook some great dishes. If you have a retail therapy addiction, wait until Christmas to get those new clothes and accessories. Find cheaper ways around your entertainment and socializing costs. All of these things can result in you keeping much more money in your bank account.
The financial aspects of college can be tough, but they’re easily manageable. Start learning to save and budget and find cheaper ways around everything. With plenty of financial support and discounts available to students, you could be missing out on big savings already.
Take note of these tips and start saving more money all around your student life. You’ll be in much better shape financially and have less to worry about. Good luck with your studies and your student savings!