How to Save Money in College?
Saving for college may seem like an impossible dream. You likely have a tight budget and are struggling to make ends meet as a college student. So how to think about saving in these circumstances? You’ll be amazed at how many ways there are to save money in college even when you’re stuck with money.
#1 Fill out the FAFSA every year.
This FAFSA form provides access to free grants, scholarships, and low-interest federal student loans. Failure to complete this application may cost you money. Without the FAFSA, the only way to get financial aid is through private student loans, which come with high interest rates.
Filling out the FAFSA is a great way to start saving money in college early in your first year. Applying each year to the college you attend can save even more.
#2 Apply for free scholarships.
Financial assistance in the form of grants and grants free of interest and fees. The good news is that you can apply for scholarships and grants across the college each year.
Submitting a FAFSA helps you qualify for certain grants, if you meet certain financial requirements. For scholarships, there is no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for or prizes you can win. You can apply for all scholarships for which you are eligible each year. You keep all the money you earn without paying interest. There is no better source for free financial assistance. Make sure to submit your applications for grants and scholarships before the deadline.
#3 Reduce textbook costs.
Textbooks can be your third biggest expense each semester, after tuition and housing. Textbooks for some subjects can be surprisingly high. You can reduce these costs by renting or purchasing used textbooks from students who have already graduated. You can find many places online where you can rent or buy used textbooks.
#4 Use a library
If you are intent on saving money in college, the campus library should be your preferred resource. They have a wide range of study and research materials available free of charge to all students. Be sure to check out the books and videos available before purchasing new content. Quantities may be limited, but with some advance planning you can take advantage of these savings.
#5 Choose housing wisely
In most colleges, on-campus accommodation is mandatory for first-year students. They can then choose to live on or off campus. If you live on campus after your sophomore year, be sure to explore all the options available. The cost of on-campus housing can range from relatively reasonable to astonishingly high. Choosing the shared housing option in a low-cost dorm can save you a lot of money throughout the year.
#6 Use the gym on campus
Most universities have sports and gym facilities for all students, not just their sports stars. At most colleges, your annual fee covers gym membership, so why not make the most of it and use the facilities. No need to join a private gym to get unlimited free gifts. Working out in a campus gym is a great way to stay fit while saving money in college.
#7 Make full use of your meal plan
Meal plans may offer limited meal options, but if you pay for it, you should take full advantage of it. Otherwise, don’t buy the plan.
You can also use your meal plan for breakfast to stave off those morning cravings. It may sound small, but these small savings can add up to a significant amount throughout the year.
#8. Living away from campus.
Sometimes it is cheaper to rent an apartment off campus than to live in a dorm. The option to split the rent with 2 or 3 housemates can help cut costs as well as sharing utility bills and splitting groceries. Make sure everyone understands the expenses and living arrangements.
#9 Limit eating out.
Eating out can eat up your savings faster than you think. If your goal is to save money for college, eating out even once a week can derail those plans. You can’t think of the cup of coffee you have every morning on your way to class. But add up how much you spent on coffee for just one month and you’ll be surprised how much you spent on coffee.
If you need to have caffeine daily, consider investing in a good coffee maker. The initial investment is worth it when you consider how much you’ll save over four years of college. If you prefer smoothies, invest in a blender.
#10. Learn to cook and prepare.
Cooking at home is always cheaper than eating out or getting takeaway. Home cooked food is healthy, too. It’s a win for you! “No time to eat” is no excuse. With some smart meals, you can plan your meals in advance and cook once or twice a week for the whole week.
A $6 or $8 meal may seem cheap, but it will add up over time. The same $6 or $8 will provide you with a variety of groceries that you can use to prepare delicious and healthy meals at home. Never cooked before? Find easy, budget-friendly recipes online and you can get started in minutes.
No. 11. Do your grocery shopping at discount supermarkets.
Discount supermarkets stock a variety of fresh produce and essential goods at low prices. And no, this does not mean that the products are of low quality. The quality of their products is as good as what you will find in high end stores. Discount stores keep their prices low by eliminating unnecessary clutter and overhead. Shopping for groceries at these supermarkets can add to your savings each month.
No. 12. Purchase of non-perishable items in bulk.
Stock up on non-perishable items like toiletries, soap, and other things you use regularly. Find stores nearby that offer discounts on bulk purchases and see if you can get a store membership card.
#13. Carry your student ID card with you everywhere
Many stores offer student discounts on everything from gadgets to clothing and more. All you have to do is show your student ID to take advantage of these discounts. You can even get discounts on bus and train tickets, as well as admission to museums and entertainment centers. You never know where and when your Student ID will come in handy, so make it a habit to carry it with you wherever you go.
#14. Purchase computer hardware and software through an education store
Technology is one of the biggest expenses in college. You may need to upgrade your laptop or install proprietary software if the software requires it. These are very expensive items and buying them in regular stores can make a huge hole in your savings. Certain education stores offer significant educational discounts on these items for college students. Given the high cost of technology, even a small discount can add a significant amount.
#15th. Get a free checking account.
A checking account is a great place to hide any money you receive as a gift. Keeping it in your wallet increases the temptation to spend it. An instant deposit of money into an account makes the temptation out of sight and out of mind.
When opening a checking account, look for a bank that waives account opening fees for students. Paying this fee could eat up your savings. You also want to make sure that there is no minimum bank balance requirement.
#16. Never overdraw.
Use online banking to keep track of your checking account balance on a regular basis so you don’t inadvertently incur overdraft fees. An overdraft is when you spend money that is not in your account. When you spend more than your checking account, your bank will charge you a hefty fee of $25 or more to process the transaction. This can send you more debt. To protect your savings, never overdraft.
#17. Get a zero-fee student credit card and pay all bills on time.
Getting a college student credit [D1] is a smart financial strategy in more ways than one. This gives you unprecedented flexibility in purchasing, which can be particularly useful in emergency situations. Credit cards also offer great rewards and discounts on purchases, drastically reducing the cost of purchases while increasing your savings.
One of the biggest benefits of getting a credit card in college is that you can start building your credit history and credit score. A good credit score can help you get approved for low-cost loans more easily in the future. The earlier you start, the longer you will have time to build a solid result.
Using your credit card responsibly and making all payments in full and on time is vital to building a good credit score. Each missed payment will deduct a few points from your credit balance. Missed payments also cost you money through late fees and interest on the balance, which can take a significant portion of your savings.
#18. Save money on transportation and travel.
Whether you’re moving from your off-campus apartment to the classroom or from dorm to the grocery store, transportation costs can increase over time. Start by checking if you can get a student permit for public transportation.
Many local transportation authorities partner with colleges and offer students airfare and discounts on buses, coaches and the subway. This can add up to significant savings for you over four years. It is definitely cheaper than driving a car.
Owning a car is a luxury when you are in college. And it can get expensive very quickly with gas, maintenance, and parking costs. If you want to save money, get rid of your car and use public transportation.
#19. Sell your textbooks when you’re done with them.
Once you have completed a few courses, you will no longer need these textbooks. Just as you buy used textbooks from older students, there are younger students who are happy to save money by buying used textbooks from you. When you finish your textbooks, consider reselling them to increase your savings.
#20. Stop paying for cable TV.
Even the simplest cable TV subscriptions can be pricey. Watching back-to-back TV shows to get the most out of your subscription is counterproductive in more ways than one. To save money as a college student, it’s best that you don’t get a cable TV subscription. If you have already paid, cancel all other subscriptions. There are plenty of free alternatives online that you can check out instead.
No. 21. Get print on campus.
It’s tempting to buy your own printer to print all the materials you desperately need during the school year. But when you include the cost of ink cartridges, paper, and maintenance, they can be quite expensive. It’s very cheap to print and pay when you need it. This small step can save you hundreds of dollars each year in just printing costs. To save more, don’t use papers anywhere, anytime.
#22. Start a side hustle using your skills.
Starting a side business is a great way to make money in your spare time and increase your savings. To get started, think about your skills and experience and how you can use them to make some money in your spare time. From freelance writing and website building to designing jewelry and selling handmade items on Etsy, there are endless opportunities that you can take advantage of depending on your skills. Moreover, when you work independently, you can do as much or as little work as you want depending on your free time.
Number 23. Think about investing your money.
It may not be for everyone, but if you have the investing skills, you can make your savings work for you while you’re in college. Opening a high yield savings account is the easiest and safest way to invest your money even if you have no previous experience. Profits may be low but it is a risk free investment. Another possibility is to put your savings into a Roth IRA. Talk to your family or your financial advisor about the best options available and how to get started legally.
Even investing in a low-yielding opportunity can give you a decent amount of money and increase your savings while you are in college.
Number 24. Start paying off student loans.
Interest on some student loans begins to accrue on the day the funds are disbursed. By the time you finish paying off the loan, you’ll have paid off thousands of dollars in accrued interest. Paying off student loans early can help reduce your debt burden after graduation. Even paying as little as $20 a month can make a huge difference in the long run and is definitely worth it.
Use one or more of the 24 ideas above and start saving money today while you’re still in college. Years later, you’ll be glad you did!