How to Save Money and Cut Cost from Your First Year in College
The college years are generally one of any student’s most significant steps into adulthood, and you definitely don’t want to begin your early years with debt, learn how to budget and save money on a tight budget.
Creating a budget is one thing, sticking to it is another thing!
Typically, college budgets are full of similar challenges faced by adults after graduation- how can I make money? How much should I spend on food, rent, entertainment, clothes, etc.?- But the chances of not having a second chance are typically lower. You can experiment to discover where a bigger share of your money goes to and not worry about paying too high a price for each mistake made by you.
But the big question remains: How does a college student deal with things like overspending on clothes, food, irrelevant things and apply each learning experience after graduation. Continue reading to find out how.
Budget Your Way Through School
We all know college is supposed to be about experiencing new knowledge and there are billions of new things you can learn about money through budgeting. You should start small and take bigger steps as you master the efficient management of funds.
You can give yourself a challenge; like weekly money saving challenges and see how close you get to accurately estimating expenses. If you mismanage funds on Monday and are forced to live off a box of cereal the rest of the week, you’ll get a taste of what happens to an adult who carelessly spends cash.
One area you might need to check-in is FOOD. Every college student needs to eat and whether you choose to cook your own food or dine in a fancy restaurant, find new ways to get the best bang for your buck.
Most times the college you choose will determine the amount of money you spend on rent and whether you really need things like a $5 cup of coffee, a car, a $555 drone, and a cable TV every year. Ask yourself, is it really worth it to indulge myself in student loans to amass the so-called “higher standard” of college life?
Or should you apply common sense and live within your budget? The pros of learning that in college will make life very easy when you’re finally living on your own and having to support yourself without cash from Dad, mom or student loans.
It’s very tempting to discard budget and lives off of an endless chain of loan money. It’s a huge debt (in case you don’t know) because 6 months after graduation, you start paying back every penny with interest. On average, it will take you 21 years to pay off student loan debt, and by then, you could be 43 years old and still be struggling to pay off your longtime debt and looking for ways through which you can put your kids through college.
9 Easy Ways To Cut Cost of College
You should at least limit student loans if you cannot prevent it. Now, it is time to draft a plan to save money and budget on each item. Here are some tips any college student can use to save money.
Choice of school – School fees should be an essential piece in your choice of college. Back in 2015/16, the average cost of an in-state public university was $9,410. You should compare that to $23,893 for out-of-state universities and $32,405 for private universities. Scholarships and government grants can help cover some costs, but never opt to use student loans to pay your tuition fees.
To save costs, go to an in-state school and save at least 150% on tuition and fees.
Textbooks – Renting used textbooks will save you cash and save you the trouble of shopping around one semester after another. In fact, it is a common practice in high school to buy textbooks and sell them to student’s a year below you. However, this is more difficult for colleges because not everyone offers the same course.
To quicken the sale, you should head to Chegg.com or Amazon.com where you can either rent or buy textbooks a whole lot cheaper than shopping at your university bookstore.
Housing – Find out the cost of on-campus dorms versus off-campus apartments and houses. A 2015 study of Trulia revealed that it was cheaper to live off campus in 15-out-of-20 colleges.
Roommates – Living with roommates can help you cut costs on groceries, rent, and so much more.
Cable – Netflix costs $10/month and offer great service, but there are cheaper options like SlingTV, Roku, PlayStation Vue, and DirecTV.
Transportation – Almost every university has a bus system you can use in addition to the city’s public transportation system. If you want a ride of your own, getting a scooter or a bicycle is one of the most economical options you can get.
Food – You can cook with your friends, roommates and share the cost of ingredients. Hooked and Pocket Points can help you get discount offers at restaurants, but there are plenty more apps like Groupon and Rovertown that primarily function as coupon apps for cheap restaurant meals.
Coffee – Going on a coffee break won’t kill you, but if you have 8 a.m. classes then at least prepare coffee yourself. It costs about 51 cents to make your own coffee compared to at least $2 for a cup at Starbucks. That’s a savings of almost $550 per year.
Party fund – Set aside a few dollars to use for a night out. You need to leave your credit cards at home, and only use cash meant for the party when you are at the bar. This will ensure you only spend as much as you can afford. Alternatively, you can use apps like Happy Hours, UConnection and Party Tutor to find drink specials near you.