The cost of college has gone up so much that it is increasingly difficult for young people to afford to attend college, or to remain in college once they start. For most students, scholarships, grants, loans and work study jobs or part time employment may help to offset some of the expenses, Many students work during the summer in order to save some money for the upcoming school year. Though these things may help, nothing is as important as knowing some easy ways to save money as a college student.
*Create a budget for yourself
Creating a budget will help you see what your essential expenses are. Once you add up everything you will have to pay out for expenses, then you can see what you have remaining. Think of all of the things you’ll have to pay for with that remaining money. Create a budget for those things, but be flexible.
*Keep an accounting of expenditures
Computerized accounting programs make it very easy to keep track of expenses. They will also help with balancing a checkbook. Knowing how and what you are spending money on can be a great way to help yourself save money. You will learn to recognize when you are spending money unnecessarily or frivolously.
*Consider a college or university meal plan
By opting to get a meal plan, you save yourself from having to figure out what to cook for yourself and then taking the time to do it. You will probably get a better bang for your buck if you eat at campus meal halls. What’s more, you won’t have to go out to eat or spend money to eat on campus.
Meal plans can be customized to the needs of a student. If you live off campus, you probably won’t want to eat breakfast on campus. But if you get a meal plan that allows you to eat one or two meals on campus each day, you won’t be so tempted to eat out, and eating out can get quite costly, especially if it is done often. A meal plan can minimize the amount of money you’d have to spend on groceries, and the benefit of not having to spend time cooking meals can be a real life saver – especially for students with extraordinarily busy schedules
*Look for ways to save on textbooks
If you get a textbook list for your classes in advance, you can take the time to investigate some of the places on the Internet that sell textbooks at rock bottom prices. Be sure you get the required edition of books. Used textbooks can be another way to save, and this is especially helpful for books that are only used for a semester. Sell your books back when you are done with them and use the money you get from selling them to purchase the next semester’s books.
*Take public transportation or use the campus bus service
Depending on the size of the school and the community, you may be able to use campus bus service for free. In many places where there are large colleges or universities, the city will offer a substantially discounted semester long bus pass. Many students use bicycles as a way to get around on campus, but make sure you have a good lock and a place to store it during the winter.
*Take advantage of campus offerings
Many campuses have a wealth of opportunities for their students. These include everything from gym facilities that cost a fraction of what a traditional gym membership would cost to movies, art exhibits, free museum entry and more. There may also be opportunities to attend theater, concerts and recitals, and while some of these events will be free, others will be extremely cheap. There may also be safe places for students to hang out, listen to music, watch television and spend time with friends. Taking advantage of things on campus may save you a huge amount of money.
*Give yourself a spending allowance
A spending allowance will force you to think about how you spend your money. You can give it to yourself each week, each month or however often works best for you. Remember, if you have to pay to do laundry, this will be something you have to factor into your spending. If you want to buy clothes, go out to eat or to a club, you will have to budget your money accordingly.
For many students, college is the first experience they will ever have with having to be responsible for their own money. Temptation can derail the best of intentions when it comes to saving money. The easiest way to save money as a college student is by disciplining yourself to keep track of what you spend. When you see the evidence in front of you, you may realize that you have to change your behavior. Don’t ignore those monthly bills you have to pay, because not paying them or over extending yourself on credit cards can hurt your credit rating and possibly impact your ability to get a job after college.