How does one save money going back to college? Some assumptions are necessary. This piece is for students going back to college where they are enrolled to complete their undergraduate education. With these parameters in mind, the following suggestions, although tough, may prove helpful.
Saving money requires sacrifices. If in going back to college, you truly want to save money do the following:
Leave your credit card a home. One of the lessons learned by many people who have been driven to the brink financially as a result of the current, ongoing financial crisis is that the only way to save is to put your credit card away in a lock box and then throw away the key.
List all reasonable expenses, make some adjustments and then live by your budget. Review your budget monthly to adjust expenses further for utilities and gasoline if you must drive a car. Learn to tolerate the heat or wear extra warm clothing to withstand the cold. Use public transportation. Keep entertainment to a minimum. Don’t subscribe to cable or to telephone service. Rent movies you meant to see last year or do the dollar rental. Return rentals promptly. Drink plenty of water. Skip the beer and wine unless someone else is buying.
Eat nutritiously but sparingly. Buy your favorite cereal in bulk at BJ’s. Try eating on $21.00 per week. You may qualify for the local food pantry if you file your own tax return. Stay on your parents’ life insurance for as long as you can according to their contract.
Negotiate for a room in a private home if you can. The price may be better than rent for an apartment and the amenities could be terrific if you agree to work in exchange for food, etcetera. Look into house sitting. Some communities have people who do seasonal vacationing and would rather have someone they can trust looking after the house while they are away. It could come with the use of a car.
When school is on vacation, if you are at some distance from your hometown, hitch a ride and share the expense. “Going to…” notices are usually posted around campus. If you are at a great distance from your home town stay at school in your apartment or residence. That’s why you live off campus.
If you think you are saving money, know that the college is working even harder to save money too on your education. That’s why colleges are interested in registering as many students as possible for on-line courses even as they are on-campus residents.
Whatever your major, consider its viability for making you some money when you approach graduation and realize that the next step is either work, graduate school or, of course, neither. Prepare yourself that even with a smaller debt for your education, you may be looking for volunteer work with some organization that will thank you for your service and hopefully provide you with some form of stipend.
So you might reconsider what to do in the interim between not so good times and the worst of times. The military is still an option with college money promised or some volunteer program now that, in part, will underwrite an education in the future.