How to save money in college

By Unigo
04/26/2016
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College is expensive, so saving money while in school can help you avoid unnecessary debt. Use these tips to save and manage your money while living on campus.

1. Get a job

Campus jobs

On-campus jobs provide a good wage, are easy to get to, and can be a great way to meet other students. Most on-campus employers are willing to work around your class schedule because they recognize that your priority is earning a degree. Working at college is also a great way to build your resume and gain skills and experience that you may use in your future career. But be sure to look for on-campus jobs early because they may be limited.

Spring break and summer jobs

Many college students choose to spend their breaks hanging out at the beach. This can get expensive. Instead of binge drinking and debt regret, use your spring and summer breaks to get a job and save up some extra cash. These jobs can be really fun and will help make your spring and summer lucrative.

Spring break jobs

  • Babysitting
  • Yard work
  • House cleaning

Summer jobs

  • Camp counselor
  • Lifeguard
  • Theme park attendant

Sites like monster.com and indeed.com are good places to start your job search.

2. Saving money on textbooks

Avoid buying new textbooks

Paying for textbooks can be crazy expensive, so look into buying them used or renting textbooks. Use websites that compare textbook prices to help you find the best deals. Used or rental textbooks are often in great shape and sometimes even come with notes and important parts highlighted. Asking students who’ve completed the class to sell or loan you their books is also a great way to save money.

Sell your textbooks

Once you’re done with your textbooks, sell them! While the return on investment for textbooks isn’t great, when you’re a struggling college student, an extra hundred dollars at the end of the semester can mean a lot.

3. Keep searching and applying for scholarships

Many students stop applying for scholarships after they graduate from high school because they mistakenly think they’re no longer eligible. In fact, there are billions of dollars in scholarships available to college students! Treat it like a part-time job and spend a few hours each week searching and applying for scholarships the entire time you’re in college. The more scholarships you apply to, the better your chances of being selected.

4. Budget weekend spending

It’s important to budget the amount that you spend on weekend activities. Set a spending cap for the weekend and think of creative ways to spend less. For example, watching a movie at home with your friends, instead of going to a theater, can save you a lot of money — and can be a lot more fun!

5. Save money by eating at home

Sure, eating out is fun and easy, but it’s not cheap! Cooking at home can save you a lot of money and be a great excuse to get together. Make it an event and invite friends to cook a group meal and share expenses. Look for recipes online and rotate hosts. Not only will you save money, but before you know it, you and your friends will learn new culinary skills.

6. Ditch the car

Not all colleges let freshmen have cars on campus, but even if yours does, you still may not want to do it. Having a car on campus can be very expensive — you have to have car insurance, pay for gas, maintenance, and repairs, and buy parking passes every semester, which adds up to a ton of money. Instead, save money and help the environment by using public transportation or riding a bike. And if you really need to, you can always take a cab every once in a while.

7. Monitor your spending

Keeping track of and setting a limit on how much you spend will help you maintain a steady cash flow. Budgeting apps like Mint or Mvelopes can be super useful tools for college students. They can connect to your bank account and credit cards so you can track your spending, set savings goals, and get alerts when you’ve spent too much.

The skills you learn by managing your money in college will help you throughout your entire life. The more you practice, the better you’ll become, and the more money you’ll have when you need it.

Next: How to become a financially independent college student

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