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College students are faced with countless difficult decisions to make that can impact their finances for years to come. At a young age, many college students are responsible for financing their education and living expenses while still trying to get a good education. Without proper money management skills, a student’s personal finances can really suffer. Proper planning and good spending habits can help students minimize their financial burdens and stretch their dollars as much as possible. After all, a dollar carries more weight to a frugal college student.
Most college students are living on a budget in order to avoid falling into a cycle of debt. Unfortunately, many students also believe that saving money means being cheap. Instead, students should focus more on being aware of their spending and choosing more affordable alternatives wherever possible. To help better manage their personal finances, we have compiled a list of money-saving advice and tips for college students.
Keep Track of Your Spending at All Times
One of the most vital money saving tips for students for managing your personal finance is to keep track of your spending on a consistent basis. Oftentimes, the key to financial success is being aware of how you are spending your money and making adjustments whenever necessary. Once you have identified where you can cut your spending, it becomes much easier to find more affordable alternatives.
There are plenty of budgeting mobile apps that will help you manage your spending. These apps will allow you to separate and organize your spending into different categories like food, entertainment and rent. You can then take a look at where you are spending excessively and cut back accordingly. Additionally, most banks have mobile banking apps available, so you can always get a real-time update on your money and spending. Utilizing these tools will help you better manage your funds and adjust your spending to help you meet your financial goals.
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Pro College Money Saving Tips for Students
If you’re a student in college, frugal living can be difficult if you aren’t crafty. There are plenty of opportunities for college students to save a few dollars during their time in school. Not all of these money saving tips for college students will apply, but saving money wherever you can adds up. Our pro money saving tips for students have been organized by savings in academics, entertainment and food/living to help you target where you want to cut spending.
Savings in School Supplies
- Use the Library to Borrow Books for Class: Sometimes the books that your professors assign will be available from the university library. Checking out books will save you from having to pay for books that you will only be using for a short period of time. You can often reserve books ahead of time to ensure that they will be available when you need them.
- Rent/Buy used Books: If the books you need can’t be found in the library, buying or renting used copies is the next best option. University bookstores usually keep a stock of used books for rent or purchase. You can also buy or rent used books from online textbook service providers. Just make sure to order them ahead of time so that they arrive before you need them.
- Attend Campus Events for free School Supplies: Student events are always happening on campus. Often, free school supplies like pens, planners and more are offered to anyone that attends. Stop by a student event and stock up on supplies whenever you get the chance.
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Savings in Entertainment
- Always Ask if a Student Discount is Offered: A lot of entertainment venues offer student discounts on their services. Movie theatres and museums commonly offer student discounts. Other local businesses like arcades or bowling alleys may as well. Always keep your student ID on you and ask for student discounts when you go out.
- Use Campus Amenities: Throughout the school year, there will be a variety of free entertainment options available on campus. Movie and game nights put on by organizations on campus can be a fun way to spend your time without spending any of your money.
- Utilize Streaming Services: The days of paying for expensive cable are all but gone now that streaming services like Hulu and Netflix offer countless movies and TV shows. For a much more affordable monthly fee, you can view hours of entertainment. Music streaming is also a great way to enjoy tons of music for a small monthly fee. Some music streaming services even offer student discounts.
- If you’re Going Out, Leave your Credit and Debit Cards at Home: Instead, take an amount of cash that you are comfortable spending through the night. As the night goes on, it’s easy to get carried away and overspend. By taking only cash, you know it’s time to stop spending when you run out. If the night gets crazy, there’s no chance of you misplacing your cards either. If you lose your driver’s license, you can always order a driver’s license replacement online.
Savings in Food/Living
- Use a Refillable Water Bottle: Bring your water bottle with you and refill it whenever possible. This will keep you from buying soft drinks and water in plastic bottles. Water will also keep you hydrated throughout the day better than sugary drinks.
- Make your Own Food or use Your Campus Meal Plan: The cost of eating out adds up very quickly. If you paid for a meal plan, use it as often as possible to get the most value for your money. Also, now is a good time to learn how to make your favorite foods at home to save money. You can even freeze prepared ingredients so that they last longer for future meals.
- Attend Student Events for Free Food: Once again, campus events are an incredible benefit for college students living on a budget. In order to attract more students to their events, many organizations offer free food to guests. Don’t be shy about grabbing a slice of pizza or whatever else they may be offering. This is an easy way to save money while still having a bite to eat.
- Get a Coffee Maker: Almost every college campus has a place to get coffee. While they are convenient, paying more than a few bucks for each cup of coffee will quickly add up. This can cut your coffee spending in half, and you will also avoid long lines at coffee shops.
- Use the Campus Gym: Staying fit and healthy is important, but membership fees at most gyms can be way too expensive for many college students. Instead, utilize the gyms on campus that are available to students. The costs for campus gyms are covered by tuition fees, so you might as well use the gym that you are already paying for.