It’s time to save money in college. By the time you’re done reading this piece, you’ll know exactly how to keep more money in your pocket as a student.
Unless you borrow heavily or become best friends with a really rich uncle, finding the funds you need to get through college can be difficult at best.
The good news is that there are different tricks and strategies that can be employed to save money on everything from books and software to entertainment and phone calls.
Here are 10 things to try help you save money in college:
1. Be responsible with credit cards.
Many college students have gotten into trouble with student credit cards. If you do decide to get a credit card, make sure you find a card with a low interest rate and no annual fees. Also, be very careful to pay your credit card bills on time. Just one late payment can result in fees and/or a huge increase in your
2. Buy used or digital textbooks.
The cost of college textbooks can add up over the years. It isn’t unusual for students to spend more than $1,000 each semester. You can save a lot of money by buying your textbooks used or investing in digital textbooks. There are many different sites that sell used and digital textbooks on the web at huge discounts. Good sites to try include Biblio and Zinio.
3. Rent textbooks.
Renting textbooks can be even cheaper than buying used or digital books. Most textbook rental services use a Netflix-style rental system that allows buyers to have books shipped to their front door. Textbooks can often be rented for an entire semester or for an entire year. Examples of textbook rental services include Chegg and Skoobit.
4. Seek Out Open Source Software.
There is no reason to spend tons of money decking out your computer with pricey software when there are so many free apps and open course products available through the web.
You can find free word processors, spreadsheet makers, database creators, image editors, presentation tools, and almost anything else you need to complete your homework. Good open source suites to try include Open Office and Zoho.
5. Use your meal plan.
If you’re one of the millions of students who pay for a partial or whole meal plan, make sure you take advantage of it. Most schools do not limit the number of meals you can have or the amount of food you can take back to your dorm. Although eating out can be fun, it can also create a whole host of unnecessary expenses. You are much further off eating the food you already paid for.
6. Drink cheap.
According to AlcoholPolicyMD.com, college students spend more than $5 billion on alcohol each year. If you must drink, drink cheap. Buy the cheap beer, purchase your liquor by the gallon, attend other people’s parties, and stay away from the bar. Alcohol markup is typically huge at restaurants, bars, and other establishments that serve adult beverages. You can also consider pre-drinking in college before a night out.
7. Watch your entertainment spending.
Going to the movies, getting the big cable package, and buying music might seem like a good idea, but these items are terrible investments when you consider the fact that you can enjoy most of these things for free or for very little cost online. There are tons of sites that allow you to watch your favorite movies or television shows for free. There are also a number of free music players and shareware that will keep your music collection up-to-date. If you can’t find what you need on the computer, visit your local public library.
8. Look for student discounts.
There are a wide range of establishments that offer significant discounts to students. Seek them out and do all of your shopping there. You can also purchase a national student discount card to save on everything from travel to entertainment.
9. Use a free Internet phone calling service.
Communicating with friends and family while you are in college can lead to enormous phone bills. You can cut your bill in half by using free Internet phone calling and video chat services to stay in touch with the people who are important to you. Good services to try include Skype, ooVoo, and Vyew.
10. Invest in something.
If your money is tied up in a certificate of deposit (CD) or another investment, you can’t spend it. This is a good way to save for the next semester’s worth of books or other school supplies. CDs can be purchased from most commercial banks. Certain brokerages issue them as well. You can see how the stock market works by reading this blog.
This was a guest post from education writer Karen Schweitzer.