5 Easy Ways For College Students To Save Money

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College student life is often synonymous with financial struggles. College students have a bad rap for their money management skills (or lack thereof), but whatever your means, there’s no need to fall into the cash-poor, debt-ridden student stereotype. Learning how to save money and be a smarter spender are useful skills that you’ll be grateful to have. To help you get through the year, we’ve put together some easy ways to save money as a student.

1. Budget

You find yourself in the beginning of the first semester, your bank balance steady, and your mom’s advice to sort out your finances before you spend seems like a distant memory. Budgeting may not be on your to-do list, but it should be. It’ll save you from finding yourself in the midst of the first semester with insufficient funds to pay the rent because you blew all your money on student event tickets.

Doing a weekly budget, and sticking to it, will make you a more savvy spender. Before you buy anything, ask yourself if you really need it. If you formulate a manageable budget, you’ll easily find balance within your expenditures. There are many free apps that you can download to assist you in budgeting so be sure you take advantage of them.

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2. Cook in Bulk

Food is one of the biggest expenses for college students. Last-minute trips to the store and ordering take-out can get pretty expensive quickly. If you don’t keep tabs on your fresh fruit and vegetables, they’ll go bad before you’ve had time to eat them. Cooking in bulk and freezing your food is the best way to save time and money in the kitchen. Cook enough food for four people and divide your meals into individual portions to freeze. Simply defrost and heat up a portion for lunch or dinner the next day. It’s just as fast as, if not faster, than ordering take-out and you’ll be saving money simultaneously. Another idea: try online food shopping so you can take the time in the comfort of your own home to find the best deals.

3. Buy Used Textbooks

Buying new textbooks each time you enroll in a course can get very expensive. You may be able to borrow some of your assigned textbooks from the library; however, you may have to return them before the end of the term, and then you’ll end up purchasing a copy anyway. Amazon now offers rentals on some textbooks, which will help lower costs on those big, bulky volumes. For the rest of your assigned reads, take the time and search online for second-hand textbooks. Once you’re finished with them, sell them back to the bookseller and recuperate some of your money.

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4. Take Advantage of Offers and Freebies

Look or ask for student discounts before purchasing anything. A quick Google search can lead you to an array of eligible discounts on items you need. When in the supermarket, search the aisles for price-reduced and clearance items (often nearing their expiration date). They’re perfect for last-minute snacks. Keep your eyes open for any buy-one-get-one-free offers on more expensive items that you buy regularly and stock up. Sign up for loyalty cards at places you frequent and accumulate rewards points. It may seem pointless when you start, but after shopping for eight consecutive months in the same store, you’ll rack up enough points to get some freebies.

5. Work Part-time

You can try your best to save money, but if you’re still not making ends meet, it’s time to think about a side hustle. Many students work part-time at some point during their college education and it is possible to balance the demands of school and a job. Find a gig that has decent pay and flexible hours that work with your college timetable. A job in retail, tutoring, or babysitting are common for students and reputable employers in these fields pay well. The extra cash each month will come in handy for unexpected expenses or to pad your savings account.