Ready to start saving money on college? It is not a difficult thing, but it takes some planning and a little bit of discipline. Here is what you need to do.
For starters, budget. Our number one tip for new college students is to budget. It is the only way to know what you are spending your money on and what you are wasting it on.
There are three steps for budgeting that can help you prioritize what’s important and help you save money.
1. Calculate your monthly income.
This is the first step to budgeting and should be done before you start putting things on a list. It’s important to know what your current income is before assessing your needs and wants. You should do this with the help of your parents if possible as they will have a bit more experience in calculating an actual net income for you, including how much they plan to contribute.
2. List your monthly expenses.
It’s necessary to list out every expense you have in detail. You can use a spreadsheet or just a simple sheet of paper, just as long as the list is complete. By knowing what your true expenses are, you can calculate how much money you need to allocate to the different areas of your budget.
If you have trouble listing all of your expenses, take a week or two to figure it out. Simply keep a notebook with you and write down all of your expenses as you make them. By the end of the one or two weeks, you should have a pretty good indication of where your money is going.
3. Create a budget.
The final step of the process is figuring out what you should be spending every month. Take your income and divide it out amongst the spending categories like food, housing, entertainment and savings. Prioritize necessary spending and saving over discretionary spending.
After all of your work is done, you will have a budget that will guide you in your college spending. Now, all that is left is to get the motivation to stick to it.
Saving More Money On College Expenses
Having a budget is great, and it is the first step in saving money during your college career, but there are more ways to save. Let’s take a look at some spending categories where you can find more savings.
Save Money On College Textbooks
College textbooks are a significant investment for students. Many students spend thousands of dollars on their textbooks, especially if they are buying new. This is a category of spending that is rip with potential savings.
To save money on college textbooks, you should purchase used books or rent them instead of buying new ones. This will allow them to save money and still get the books that they need.
The trick to buying used is to shop early. The used books will go quickly and if you wait too long, all that will be left is overpriced new books.
As far as renting goes, it is easy to do with companies like Chegg that specialize in renting books. You simply place an order and the company ships the books out to you. Once you are done, just ship them back. Time is also of the essence when renting, so get your orders in early so you get them shipped to you in time and so they do not sell out.
Save Money On College Housing
Housing is another huge expense of college life. If you are planning on going away to college and not going to community college, it will be a big par of your budget. There are ways that you can save money on college housing though.
Some of the ways you can save money on college housing include:
Living in a dorm or apartment instead of a private residence. Private apartments or house rentals are cool, but they come with a lot of added expenses like utilities and home maintenance.
Renting a room instead of living in an apartment or house with other students. If college housing is unavailable, you can consider renting a room instead of an entire off campus apartment. While that apartment might rent for 1200 dollars a month, you might be able to score an individual room for 600 dollars a month with utilities.
Save Money On College Eating
You have got to eat, but that does not mean you can not take advantage of affordable options.There are actually a lot of ways to save money on food, have a look.
Get a meal plan. Eating on campus is going to be one of the cheapest ways to go. A meal plan will help you save and it will help you keep your diet on check with regularly spaced meals.
Plan your meals. If you plan to eat at home, plan your meals for the week in advance. This allows you to buy just what you need and eliminates much of your food waste.
Buy in bulk. If there is something you eat all of the time, like a certain snack, buy it in bulk and save.
Save Money On College Entertainment
College students don’t have to spend a lot of money on entertainment. There are many ways to entertain yourself for free or on the cheap such as going to the library, watching movies at home, or checking out free DVD’s.
Ideally, you will make friends with people in the same situation as you. Groups of people living on a budget can work together to throw parties at home, host movie nights, go on hikes and any one of a number of other free activities near campus. If your friends always want to spend, spend, spend, it may be time to find some like minded friends.