College education is important if you want to find yourself in a good job or position in life. But, then again the cost of college education sometimes is, frankly, too big for many to bear. Even with scholarships and financial aid, students find that colleges’ still costs a heck of a lot of money. Even though it is inevitable that you have to pay for certain amenities, there are a lot of methods by which you can ensure your spending is kept down to the bare minimum.
Now, there is no need for any drastic steps like skipping a meal or depriving yourself of entertainment, but there is a definite need for ‘smarter living’. The first step is realizing that there are many areas or things on which you spend more money than what is actually necessary. You have to understand what is important and necessary and what is luxury and unnecessary. Managing your finances smartly will ensure that you have a great college life, devoid of the unnecessary tensions and stress, born out of having too little to meet all your needs; it also ensures that you are not burdened by post graduation debt– something that can hang over your head for a long time. Here are some money saving tips for college students; some of them are so simple and elementary that you might kick yourself for not thinking about it earlier.
1. Say NO to Credit Cards
When you are starting college, you will find yourself facing the temptation to buy things that you were normally not allowed to buy when you where with your parents; and the credit cards are designed to push you over the edge. However friendly and useful you think they are, remember that a credit card company is set up with the sole motive of making money- your money. So, wise up to the pitfalls regarding a credit card. Pay from what you have- a good habit to inculcate, which will help you immensely in the later stages of your life.
If you really have to get one, choose one that has no annual fees and the lowest interest rates. It might take some snooping around, but it will be worth it. Also, it is possible for credit card companies to make mistakes in your bill, so if you find your something amiss, get it resolved quickly. Finally, pay your bills on time and you can save yourself unnecessary late charges.
2. Used Books
This is a great way to save money; one that not everyone makes full use of. If you have started college, then you probably know how costly new books are. Buying used textbooks will save you a lot of money, considering that you have different courses each semester. The used books will, normally, be in good condition and will, definitely, cost you less than the new ones. You could also shop online for your books. The cost, including shipping, will be lesser than the retail price you have to pay in a shop. There is also the possibility of renting books. There are many colleges, stores and Internet sites that will help you rent books for amounts that will definitely look paltry in comparison to buying them.
3. Meal Plans
Even though it might not seem a very alluring prospect, but you will soon realize that meal plans are way cheaper than having to buy food from outside; you could always, occasionally, treat yourself by eating outside. When you get a meal plan, it is important to get maximum use out of it. If you still don’t think this idea is for you, you might want to start collecting coupons, sign up for shoppers’ discount cards, and limit unnecessary overspending in restaurants.
It is also a good idea to invest in a coffee maker. Even though you might not notice it, it will save money- the money that you have to pay for coffee throughout your college life. Also, stop buying bottled water; it is a waste of your money; carry a water bottle with you.
4. Student Discounts
It is one of the greatest gifts of being a student. The student discounts are certainly the way to go if you want to save money. When you open a bank account, go for the bank that has the most student friendly schemes. Choose a bank that offers free checking and savings account, free online banking and debit card transactions. You will find that such accounts do not debit money unnecessarily from your account citing account fees or so.
The restaurants and the supermarkets in the area of your college most probably have special discounts for students; make complete use of them. If you do not find any, ask- you only stand to gain. Shopping in places with discounts will leave you with extra cash and that could very well turn out to be your next meal money.
5. Organize Your Spending
It is very important to understand where and on what you have spent your money. So, start noting down your spending in a book; it will be worthwhile. You come to realize what is necessary and what is not; you will be able to, in retrospect, decide what changes you need to make in the next month. Clarity will be important when it comes to saving money; and organizing your finances is crucial to achieving that.
It is an important thing that comes handy latter in life. If you do not have the habit of putting away some money, every month, towards the future, then it is time for you to start now. The thing about saving is that, it enables you to have a cushion to fall upon when the going gets tough. It cultivates a sense of purpose and instills a habit that will always stand you in good stead. It also helps you by forcing you to manage with the reduced amount; all part of the lessons in life. Put your savings in an actual bank, as the interest- however small- is better than stashing it away in your piggy bank. You can save money by reading newspapers and magazines from the library than purchasing it yourselves.