There is nothing more frustrating than seeing the number on your bank statement dwindle. As a college student, I can relate. I started this year like the last two years with a small fortune from my summer job, and end the school year with maybe twenty or so dollars to my name. It is a fact of life that as a college student you will be as broke as a joke, but there are definitely a few small things you can do to manage your money!
1. Get a Part-time Job
Make a little extra cash by getting a part time job. Although it may not be a lot, a little bit ads up over time. Find a job that catches your interest, check out any jobs offered at school, babysit, or walk your neighbors dog. Think outside the box when it comes to making some extra income!
2. Set a Budget
I set myself a weekly budget in order to keep track of spending. If I go over the week before, I take it away from the next week to make sure I do not find myself in the poor house. By giving yourself a budget it is less likely you will buy impulsively or spend money you do not have. I know it can be hard to stick to a set budget. A method that always seems to work for me is to spend only cash. When you use credit cards and debit cards it is easy to forget you are spending real money.
3. Take Advantage of the School Gym
Most colleges have great gyms, so take advantage of it while you can. It may seem like a good idea to join the gym down the street with the sauna… but it’s not. Most gyms require that you to sign a contract with terms that could end up costing you a bundle in penalty fees. Not only do you get a free workout at your school’s gym, but most offer free classes such as Pilates and spinning, which can be extremely costly anywhere else. Keeping fit also keeps medical bills and medicine costs down!
4. Save on Textbooks
There is no reason to buy a textbook for full cost. Colleges can offer used versions for much less, or some schools even let you borrow a text book for a small price, as long as you bring it back in decent shape. If your college does not offer the best price, sites such as textbooks.com are a great way for students to get their textbooks at a reasonable price.
5. Brown Bag it
If you do not live on campus or do not have a meal plan, make your lunch and snacks. Save on coffee and water by bringing your own from home. I was shocked when I realized how much I was spending on coffee. This year I bought a coffee maker and a “to-go” reusable mug, which has been a great investment! Getting a reusable water bottle is also a great way to save a dollar or so every day (and help the environment).
6. Take advantage of Discount Programs
Join discount programs. Most drug stores, pharmacies, and big chain stores have free programs. Many stores offer rewards and discounts, and although it may not seem like a lot, it adds up over time and there is no harm (just make sure you read the fine print before signing your name to anything). There are also specific discounts only for students. Public transportation, for example, usually offers a discounted price for students. When you check out at any store ask if they offer student discounts or promo codes.
7. Clip Coupons
It may not seem like much to save 50 cents on cereal but saving a few bucks here and there does add up, and as a broke college students, a few bucks can go a long way. Sites such as Coupons.com allows you to choose the coupons you want, and print them out. Why pay for something full price when you don’t have to?
Sites like Groupon can be wonderful, but they can also be dangerous. The discounts make you think you need to buy certain products or services you would have never thought to buy before. The time limit on deals also suggests the urgency of the purchase so be wary of impulsive buys. Just make sure you will actually use the discount and that it is a good purchase decision! Ask yourself: Is this in my budget? Would I pay cash for this?
9. Shop… at thrift stores!
If you love to shop but hate spending the money, check out a thrift store. It can be a hit or miss, but most of the time there are one of a kind finds for cheap!
10. Travel Cheaply
The college lifestyle allows for a lot of free time. Long holiday breaks and summer break gives us time to travel… the only thing standing in our way is the cost. Luckily, StudentUniverse has amazing deals for students. It makes traveling affordable and easy! Spring Break is just around the corner and there are some amazing vacation deals for students. Take advantage of the deals while you are still a student!
College is supposed to be fun but worrying about money all the time isn’t. So spend your money on things you really need or want (within reason, of course). You will feel better once you take control of your spending by setting a realistic budget, sticking to your budget and using money-saving techniques to stretch your dollars.