Whether you work your way through college or you need to stretch your financial aid over a full school year, you’ll want to find ways to cut costs in college without making a difficult, hectic college schedule even harder. Now’s a good time to learn some money saving habits that will give you a head start on managing your money once your college education leads to a full time career.
– Map out a budget and stick to it. You’re likely on financial aid or money you or your parents saved for your education. Sit down and figure out not just how much you have to spend each month, but every possible expense you need to account for, including rent if you’re living by yourself, phone bills and grocery expenses.
– Speaking of which, map out a personal meal plan, down to every single item you intend to eat, and get all your food from the supermarket or grocery store. Make sure, of course, that you can afford all the food you need. Eating out gets expensive, so make sure you know exactly what you intend to eat each day and make sure you get every item you need at the store.
It helps to be able to cook at home: Raw ingredients are cheaper than processed boxed/bagged foods, and you can always prepare multiple servings to eat later provided you have a refrigerator as well. Try to include a lot of portable fruits like apples, bananas and oranges, and portable vegetables for snacking such as baby carrots. This will help you stay on a meal plan while on the go.
– Avoid using credit cards. Look, if you want to get a credit card and you quality for one, that’s fine. But avoid spending more than $100 a month on it and be able to pay the whole thing off each month. Thousands of college students graduate with a mountain of credit card debt piled up from irresponsible usage of their credit cards. On a lesser scale, as the debt piles up the bill to pay even the minimum each month is a drain on your finances. Keep your spending in check by resisting the use of your credit card except for special occasions or emergencies.
– Resist peer or media pressure to go out and buy new things or see new movies, all unnecessary drains on your income. One easy way to resist this is to do what you went to college to do: Focus on your studies as much as possible.
– On that note, you can go out and have a good time, but make sure to restrict this to the weekends and make sure not to go out more than once or twice a week.
College is expensive enough without excess spending, and these basic tips will help you save money and minimize spending.