Personal Finance For Students: Top 10 Tips and Tricks to Save More at College
Being a student is a costly experience. While racking up student loan debt on top of paying rent and other bills, it’s important to save money in any way possible. Thankfully, with a little extra know-how, you can manage to get the most out of what little income you have and even have some left over for a social life. We’ve gathered 10 of the most useful financial tips for students – take these into account and you’ll end up having more money in your pocket than you ever thought possible.
1. Take the First Simple Step – Track Your Money
First things first: keep track of your income and expenses. Monitoring your finances is crucial in order to find out where your money is going and identify areas for cutbacks and adjustments. Be meticulous – don’t forget about small things like library charges or your morning coffee. Luckily, personal finance apps like inBudget have been developed to make tracking your finances easier and more enjoyable. Try out the social features of inBudget to make your budgets together with fellow students and friends – a great way to inspire and support each other’s good habits.
2. Learn to Cook and Plan Meals in Advance
After a day filled with lectures, it can be tempting to want to grab something quick to eat at a nearby cafe. But while this might sound innocent, it’s a dangerous habit for your wallet that adds up quickly. Preparing your own sandwiches, refilling water bottles, and making your own coffee at home is a great way to save money over the course of the week. Look up quick and easy recipes online to add some extra flavor to your at-home meals!
3. Party Smart
There’s a good rule for personal finance: “anything that you can do at home will be cheaper than what you can do outside”. This maxim is especially useful when it comes to partying. Bars often charge high prices for drinks (and even cover fees), while your local supermarket is cheap and often offers discounts. So instead of or before going out, start your evening at home with friends; if you do decide to go out, eat beforehand and look for bars that offer student deals. To limit your spending, bring along a finite amount of cash and don’t allow yourself to withdraw more once you’ve run out.
4. Find Things For Free
Keep your eyes peeled: there are always freebies and promotions being distributed on campus. If you’re lucky, it may be something useful that you’ve been looking for. Charity shops are another excellent source for finding clothes, books, DVDs and more for next to nothing. Alternatively, look for a local Facebook group that allows users to connect and share old or unused items; you’ll be amazed at how many people are ready to give away books, furniture, bicycles, and even laptops at the end of the school year.
5. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Being a student makes you eligible for a staggering number of discounts. While this shouldn’t encourage you to increase spending just to make use of all of them, be on the lookout at places where you normally do your shopping. Take your student ID wherever you go and it will help you save on everything from clothes and food to movies and gym memberships.
6. Travel Smarter
Whether you’re traveling home for a weekend, visiting friends at another college, or attending an event in a major city, you will likely have to spend money on transportation. Find ways to save money through ride-sharing services or by offering other travelers a spot in your car. If you’re planning to travel further, remember to book your plane or train tickets well in advance and compare prices between different companies. Of course, walking and biking are always the cheapest option!
7. Sell, Sell, Sell
To put a little money back into your pocket, consider selling some of the things that you no longer need. Flea markets and secondhand shops are increasingly popular among students, and they offer a great place to get rid of your old clothes, CDs, accessories and even household items. One of the most lucrative options is to sell your textbooks once you’ve finished a course – in some cases you can earn back up to 80% of what you spent on the book.
8. Spend Less on Textbooks
Speaking of textbooks, be careful not to spend more money than you need to without carefully evaluating your options. Check your syllabi carefully and consider pooling resources with classmates and roommates to see whether you can share materials. Don’t be scared to invest in a book if it may be useful for years to come, but remember to keep it in good condition in the event that you end up selling it.
9. Ditch the Gym
We’re not advocating that you save money by abandoning a healthy lifestyle. However, gym fees are high and often end up being a monthly drain on your finances. Consider activities that you can do for free, like running, biking, and other aerobic exercises – you can even invite friends to join for a more enjoyable atmosphere. Also remember – there are plenty of YouTube videos for everything from yoga and pilates to strength and cardio workouts.
10. Live Green
The Earth is not the only thing you’ll save by going green. By turning down your thermostat, taking shorter showers, and using energy efficient light bulbs, you’ll end up reaping long-term financial benefits as your energy savings add up to big-time rewards.