Getting a degree in today’s world is expensive. The student loan crisis results from soaring tuitions to elevated expenses of student accommodation and food, the entire journey of getting a degree is filled with unavoidable expenses.
Your parents can only help so much with college expenses. A recent report notes that most parents who have contributed to their child's tuition and room and board only saved less than $10,000. That suggests there's not much cash if any, leftover for living expenses while their student is on campus. The average cost of tuition and fees for the 2019–2020 school year was $41,426 at private colleges, $11,260 for state residents at public colleges and $27,120 for out-of-state students at state schools, according to data reported to U.S. News in an annual survey.
While you cannot do anything about these major expenses, you can still act smart and save some money from your daily expenditures. So, stop fussing about the money you already spent and read the below money-saving hacks that will help you learn how to save money in college.
1. Check for scholarships
A number of universities offer grants, scholarships, and subsidies to help students pay the tuition fees. So, get in touch with the financial aid department of your university and check if you are eligible for any of these scholarships and grants. As most of the universities have a limited number of scholarships to give away, try to apply early without missing the deadline.
2. Buy and sell used textbooks
Rather than spending a lot of money on new textbooks, try buying used textbooks from other students or websites like eBay. This will save plenty of money and you still have the materials you need for your course.
Once your final exams are over, instead of just dumping the textbooks, sell it to other students who might need them to get a little profit. Additionally, if you have made some great lecture notes, exchange them for cash as a bonus.
3. Buy a piggy bank
Just like your childhood days, try saving some extra money in a piggy bank. If not a piggy bank, get yourself a spare wallet which can hold all your extra money. From adding spare change from daily expenses to putting aside a big chunk of money from your wages or student finance, use a method which works the best for you.
4. Check for student discounts
By using your student card, you are automatically eligible for great discounts from a number of products and services from major retailers. From getting discounts on movie tickets to special discounts on online shopping websites and restaurants, take complete advantage of your student card.
This is probably the most exciting part of being a student on a budget, discounts. So, research different options, memberships, and cards you can sign up for to take complete advantage of your student status. Also, keep an eye out for student events where discounts are even higher for one night. Also, take a look into money making apps for students to earn extra money on the side.
5. Make a budget
Consider creating a budget as your top priority. Make a list of all your income sources. This might include your pocket money, allowances from parents, part-time wages, savings, etc. Additionally, make a separate list of your estimated monthly expenses.
These expenses might include your dining out or takeaway meals, grocery shopping for cooking food at home, school supplies, laundry, personal care and travelling. Make some arrangement of saving money from your income sources in the budget and ensure that you stick to this budget every month.
6. Separate wants from needs
As a student, you might get tempted for spending money on things which you might not need later. Try to be more watchful towards your wants and needs. Decide if you need to take a quick takeaway meal from outside or cook a simple meal for you at home.
The same idea applies to material objects like clothes and decorative items. Ask yourself if you need it and if your money is well spent. This puts your mind at ease, is a useful money-saving hack and helps you make informed choices about how you choose to spend your money.
Also, keep a track on your expenses to see if you can save some money either by doing your own laundry or by using a bicycle to your university instead of public transport. This will save small pennies but really goes a long way as a money-saving hack.
7. Replace a credit card with a debit card
Holding a credit card will make it easy for you to spend money on unnecessary things. This might lead to overextending your credit limits. Once the credit is piled up, there will be surcharges for non-payments or late payments. Instead, use a debit card where you can keep an eye on your expenses and are aware of the money you have in your account.
8. Do not throw away the leftover food
Do not throw away leftover food unless it is rotten or gone stale. Properly stored food can last in the fridge for 2-3 days or even for a week. Also, you can cook your food in bulk on weekends and just grab it and re-heat it on weekdays.
This will help you save both money and time. Additionally, keep a watch on the expiry dates of certain food products such as dairy, bread, cereals, sauces, and what you buy from the supermarket.
You could also find buying frozen vegetables and meat to be cheaper and last longer. This will definitely prove as a handy money-saving hack as students you are limited on budget and meat is the most expensive part of a grocery shop.
9. Buy in bulk
If you have some extra space in your accommodation, then buy items in bulk. For example, items such as paper towels, shampoos, soaps, and more that have a longer shelf life compared to food. If you don’t have space to store additional items, check with your friends who might need the same things as yours and share the items as well as the expenses.
10. Ditch expensive gym memberships
Rather than paying a lot of money at fancy gyms, check if your university offers a gym membership to its students. University gym memberships are either free or come at minimal charges making it pocket-friendly. If your university doesn’t have a gym, check for some group classes such as yoga, Zumba or aerobics which will help you stay active and fit. If you are interested in playing indoor or outdoor games, then check if there is a provision for playing sports at the university and enroll for it.
Ultimately, there are plenty of ways to saves money as a student but you have to keep track of your spending to do it. It is all your responsibility and it is completely achievable to thrive while on a college budget.