Among all other attributes associated to college, one thing is for sure: college is extravagantly expansive, even when all types of financial aid are taken into consideration. Balancing the tight class schedule is difficult enough for students, which is why they usually don’t like thinking about balancing a check book on top of everything.
Every aspect of college studies (entertainment, supplies, transportation, food, textbooks… you name it) costs money. Avoiding budgeting won’t get you anywhere, so you better start thinking about some easy ways to save money and follow our 10 tips that will teach you how to get through college without the constant feeling of panic that you could go broke any minute.
1. Visit second-hand bookstores to get your textbooks
If you never liked spending money on books, you must have been thrilled after the first encounter with textbooks – sometimes they can be ridiculously expensive, without any lab material included. It doesn’t mean that you have to starve in order to study, so we suggest walking around the campus area to look for used bookstores. This will bring you great savings, and the books usually come in great condition.
2. Choose a proper meal plan
Student meal plans depend on location, the quality of food, how often and how much you usually eat, and many other factors. If you choose wisely, a meal plan can keep you satisfied and save you a lot of money. However, you have to make an evaluation and see whether or not a certain meal plan is worth the money before you agree to it. Ask for a brochure and talk to some of your friends who have already paid for meal plans. If they have complaints, it might be better to start planning your eating budget on your own and choose healthier, cheaper alternatives.
3. Spending money on gas is out of the question
Driving a car is considered a luxury while in college. You will have to spend a large percentage of your monthly budget on gas, tickets, and parking passes. To avoid that, you should start using the subway or bus transportation and use your student ID to ride for free. If you study in the area without a reliable public transportation system, you can always turn to your bike or walk to class. If staying fit doesn’t motivate you, the saved money surely will.
4. Organize yourself
College expenses can seem like a real hassle, which is why you should keep track on how you spend your money and save the receipts. This will keep you on track and you will gain consciousness about your spending habits. When you see where your money went at the end of the month, you will realize how unnecessary spending is making great troubles for you, and you will slowly learn how to stay away from such activities.
5. A student checking account is a good idea
Many banks offer free savings and checking accounts for students, so you should explore your opportunities and use them. It doesn’t matter that banks make you scared – they can help you avoid withdrawal fees and give you other benefits that will save you money. We suggest you to choose a bank that enables online banking as an option, since that will make it easier for you to follow your money activities.
6. Get a student job
If you can find the time and energy for a part-time job and fit that activity into your class schedule, you should definitely go for it. Instead of being a burden to your parents, you can start earning your own money – that will make you more serious and responsible. The restaurants in college towns are always looking for employees, so you can try your luck there. You can also work at the college library, or apply for any other on-campus jobs your school offers.
7. Don’t spend much money on leisure
Having fun doesn’t have to cost a lot. Your college campus probably offers different opportunities, such as park hangouts, arts centers, movie theaters, cheap cafes and bars, and so on. You can involve your friends and plan a great picnic in the park, organize a book club, invite your date for a dinner or movie instead of going to a bar or expensive restaurant, go for long walks and get some fresh air instead of spending your free days in crowded cafes, and think of other alternatives that don’t cost money.
8. Be responsible with apartment expenses
If dorms weren’t cool enough for you and you insisted on apartment living, you have to be even more careful with your expenses. You will probably need to live with few roommates and split the rent. Check if the apartment complex provides accessories for tenants, such as a microwave, washer and dryer, refrigerator, or something else. Ask your friends or parents to give you some house appliances they are not using. Be careful with electricity and turn off the lights whenever you don’t need them.
9. Be careful with cell phone expenses
We’re not saying that you should ditch your cell phone, but you should definitely choose an affordable plan that will fit into your budget. You can apply for a family cell phone plan and use it together with your parents. Text messaging adds up to the monthly cell phone bills, so you should avoid it as much as possible. You can always send e-mails or Facebook messages instead of texts.
10. Scholarships are your savior
Don’t give up the research on different types of scholarships and financial aid available at your school. There are limitless scholarship opportunities, so it’s not that difficult to get one if you try hard with your studies and keep applying.
Robert Morris is freelance writer from essay writing service Ninjaessays.com. Loves writing tips and tricks for students. He is interested in improving his writing and learning through technology. Follow Ninjaessays on Twitter!
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