I will always look back at my time in college being the best years in my life. It was so much fun, I learned so much, met amazing people, and found a husband. 🙂 This is the time in your life where adulthood starts to set in, and you are becoming more responsible. College for me was a time when I became more responsible and took an interest in my personal finances. It’s funny that when you’re spending your own money you are usually more interested in how you can save. 🙂 so here are a few tips on how you can save money while in college!
Buy used textbooks
Now I am the oldest in my family so college was new and foreign to us when I started my freshman year. We figured that since the campus bookstore had textbooks, we would purchase them there. This was the only semester I made this mistake… Make sure you check Amazon or other book locations for the best deal. You can also rent textbooks, but I prefer buying so that I can sell them to someone else at the end of the semester. You will usually find great deals on Amazon so check it out!
Create a budget
Even if you are getting a small pay check each month or maybe not even one at all, it’s important that you still create a written budget in college. Obviously you won’t have a lot of monthly expenses if you are on campus, but you will want to budget for fun spending and saving. A budget will give you ease of mind that money is being saved for next semester, and it also gives you permission to spend when you go out with friends! If you need help on budgeting, check out an older post on Creating a Budget.
Now saying no to things can be hard, and I understand that. You’re in college and friends are always wanting to go do fun things, but this is where the budget comes in. You need to set an amount for yourself that you can spend on fun things each month so that you can go out with friends, but this will also hold you accountable. One thing I loved in college was spontaneous outings to Taco Bell, or ice cream, or whatever it may be. But these things cost money! Do these things because it’s fun and will create memories, but also know when to say no. If people keep asking you to go to the movies, you’ll eventually have to say no. Movies are expensive! But offer cheaper alternatives like going on hikes, going for a late night McDonalds run or game night in the dorms. Having fun and creating memories doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
Don’t go home very much
It sounds depressing. I know. But gas isn’t cheap and the cost will really add up if you’re making a lot of trips back and forth from home to school. Now my freshman year I was so home sick and wanted to come home about every weekend until about November when I realized that college was fun. Although it was only an hour drive from home to school, I was spending quite a bit on gas for frequent trips. If it’s important for you to travel home, set a limit. Maybe once a month you can go home to visit family if your school is within driving distance. Also, being at school on weekends is going to help you adjust so much better. Being on campus more will encourage you to get more involved with campus life, activities, and make more friends. As an RA in college, I found that residents thrived when submerging themselves more in campus life and got involved. This is all the fun that is college!
Live off campus
Living on campus is very convenient and fun, but it isn’t cheap… If you are looking to save more money, find a place off campus. Make sure you have roommates to split the cost of rent and utilities. Also, cook your own food. It doesn’t need to be ramen every night, but cooking you own food will save on meal costs.
If you are set on living on campus as an upperclassman, look into becoming an RA! I was an RA for my senior year of college and it was the best thing I ever did in those 3 years. I absolutely loved my hall of 20 girls. I learned so much and had so much fun. I also got a wonderful scholarship which covered 75% of room and board so that was extra nice! I didn’t have to take out much in loans that year, which was huge! I wish I would have done this my junior year as well.
Look for opportunities
So when you’re in college trying to save money, keep your eyes out for saving opportunities whether that’s buying used textbooks, saying no to more fun things, cutting down on gas, or living off campus. Saving money isn’t easy. It isn’t easy at all. It takes time to research your best options, it takes extra work to get more scholarships, and takes saying no to things, which has been the hardest for me. Keep at it. Keep saving. And discover how much more affordable college is for you!
Photography by Donny Zavala