10 Ways To Reduce College Living Costs
10 Ways To Reduce College Living Costs
Applying and going to college can be stressful with emotions that quickly dissipate when you really start to consider the financial implications of going to college. Your college living expenses can build up over the years, and if you aren’t aware of your spending habits, you could end up indebted more on your loans than you intended. Whether you move, live in dorms, or live in off-campus dorms, there are ways to lower the cost of living in college so you can have fun while staying within budget.
10 ways to lower the cost of living in college
#1 – Take advantage of school transportation.
If your college provides transportation for students, you should consider leaving your car at home. A parking ticket for the entire academic year can cost upwards of $200 depending on your college. Using school transportation will not only save you the money you spend on parking permits, but also fuel. If you live close to campus, most university transportation services will have a bus stop in front of your apartment complex. And if you’re a student living at home, you can find an apartment complex with free guest parking and use the bus stop in front of it so you can save money on your parking permit.
#2 – Shop at the grocery store.
Grocery stores have weekly sales and coupons that are easy to find and use with each store’s app or website. Take advantage of the buy one get one free deals, and use them to plan your weekly meals. You can also download cashback apps, like Ibotta, and scan groceries to get cash back on your purchases. Grocery is a big part of college living expenses, so it’s important to budget for it. Using sales to your advantage can save hundreds each semester.
#3 – Buy used instead of new.
From textbooks to apartment furniture, buying used items is incredibly rewarding. It’s no secret that college books are expensive, so buying them used or renting them for a semester can save you hundreds of dollars a year. You can even ask your professors if you can use an old copy of the textbook, which can make you cheaper. When it comes to decorating your apartment, Facebook Marketplace and local thrift stores are great shopping options because they offer items for much cheaper than buying brand new.
#4 – Buy in bulk.
Getting your household items in bulk up front may cost you more, but it cuts costs in the long run. You can find toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, snacks, and more at wholesale stores. In fact, you can also get good quality meat, vegetables and fruits from these stores. Freeze what you won’t use right away so you always have cooking backups. Speaking of cooking…
#5 – Cooking at home
It starts to increase when you go out to eat, especially if you go out several times a day. Learning to cook will not only help you expand your plate, but it will also save you a lot of money on food expenses. You can start small with simple meals and a few ingredients and then build your skills from there. Watch some educational videos and follow popular cooking recipes and you will be a chef in no time.
#6 – Attend events and club meetings.
Your college campus will host weekly events that are often provided completely free of charge. Sometimes these events have speakers while other times they are social events just to mingle. Either way, these low-cost experiences are a great way to cut costs and be part of something fun. Also, if you find a club that matches your interests and hobbies, you can make new friends and dine at these weekly or monthly meetings.
#7 – Take advantage of your student discount.
You can also get discounts from online stores and subscriptions if you provide proof that you are in college. Take advantage of these discounts when you can and try to shop at stores that offer these discounts. Even if the discount is only 10-15%, it will increase over time.
#8 – Apply for scholarships constantly.
Many students think that applying for a scholarship is a one-time thing, but that is far from the truth. You can apply for scholarships throughout your undergraduate career and receive assistance until you graduate. Use our scholarship search tool to find scholarships for which you are eligible. College scholarships make it affordable and can be used for college living expenses, not just tuition!
#9 – Exams outside general education classes
Did you know that you can test outside of attending certain college classes? Before you decide to go this route, make sure your college will accept it as credit. College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a program in which you can take a pass/fail test to obtain college credit. If you took advanced lessons in high school and retained this knowledge, you would have a better chance of passing the test. These exams cost money, but they are a fraction of the cost of a college class.
#10 – Avoid credit cards with high interest rates.
Building your credit is important when you’re in college, but finding the right credit card can be overwhelming. Look for a credit card with a low interest rate and apply for the first year without interest. Never spend more than you have and always pay your balance so you don’t lose money while paying interest.
During your college years, making smart financial decisions can lay a solid foundation for your life after graduation. College living expenses add up quickly, but finding ways to cut costs will help you enjoy your experience more.