Wisdom Wednesday: The College Student’s Guide to Saving Money

Between buying textbooks, paying for food, and putting money towards tuition, it’s easy to see the importance of saving money in college. Getting a job isn’t always the most convenient option, especially because it means taking time away from your studies. If you have a huge course load and limited free time, finding ways to save money rather than earn more is your best bet. It’s a lot easier than you would think, and there are tons of ways to incorporate saving into your daily routine! Here are some tips on saving money in college, and ways to budget the money you’re no longer spending.

Buy used textbooks, and sell them back.

There are some great websites and stores out there that sell used textbooks at a fraction of the cost of new ones. When your course ends, you can sell them back, or find a friend that needs the same book for the upcoming semester. Check out Chegg.com for your textbook needs; it’s super convenient, and you can rent books as well!

Sell things you don’t need anymore.

If you’re like most people and have a closet stuffed with old bags, games, and random things you bought 5 years ago and never used, take some time to go through that pile of stuff, and sell it. Even if you only make a few bucks off it, you have more cash in your pocket, and less stuff in your closet.

Get rid of old clothes.

Whether it’s taking them to a store like Plato’s Closet, or selling them online at websites like Threadflip, there are tons of ways to make money off the clothes you don’t wear anymore.

Cut down on shopping, and spend less.

With the long list of payments you need to make for college-related fees, shopping shouldn’t be on the top of your priority list. That said, when you do go shopping, here are some tips on spending as little as possible:

  • Always shop with a purpose. If you set out on a shopping trip with a specific item in mind, you’re more likely to leave with just that item, rather than a bag full of things you didn’t really need.
  • Shop at discounted stores, like Marshall’s and Ross, or other thrift stores. You can find the designer brands you love to wear at a much lower cost, leaving you with more money to put towards tuition and other fees.
  • Buy used. While this can go for clothing, it can also go for more costly items, like electronics and appliances. Craigslist.com is a fantastic place to shop for used items, because people are constantly putting up new listings, and they make it easy to find people in your area with the things you need!

Ask for student discounts.

You wouldn’t believe how many stores give out student discounts. Most are between 15 and 20 percent, which really adds up if you limit your shopping to those places. It never hurts to ask!

Make a list of things you want and their prices.

There’s a huge differences between wants and needs. On a budget, it’s harder to buy those “wants”, which is why creating a list of them may help you decide which things you can do without. I like putting an estimated price next to these items, because it’s easier to see how reasonable it is for me to buy them.

Make your own stuff.

Making your own things, like face wash, laundry detergent, and jewelry, saves a ton of money. Whenever a friend’s birthday comes around, consider making a few things for them rather than going for the typical Starbucks gift card route. It costs less, and they always love getting something unique!

Take advantage of being on campus.

Keep an eye out for events being held around campus, because they are free, and that’s always a good reason to attend! Some have free food, t-shirts, and other things you’d otherwise pay for. I mean, who doesn’t like free stuff?

Make your own coffee.

Any Starbucks lover like myself knows how expensive buying coffee can get. When you’re spending up to $7 every morning on a drink, you might as well take half the money you earn and put it on a Starbucks card. Investing in a coffee maker and making your own coffee is a much better option, and while coffee makers can be expensive, you’ll be saving money in the long run.

Avoid eating out.

Just like buying coffee, the cost of eating out can add up quickly, even if it’s only a few times a week. Try eating at home as often as possible. When you do eat out, try to limit it to the weekends, and go to places that offer student discounts.

Keep applying for scholarships.

There are always scholarships waiting to be applied for, and most only take a few minutes to fill out. Scholarships are the easiest way to gain the most money, so take the time every once in a while to apply for them. Websites like fastweb.com and zinch.com gather hundreds of scholarships together to make it easy for you to find ones that match your qualifications and apply for them. You’ll be happy you did it!

Overall, keeping up with your budget and staying on top of your spending are the best ways to save money in college. Only spend what you’re able to make up, and if you go over that, make it your priority to stop spending for a while. As long as you keep track of where your money is, you’ll find that keeping money in your pocket is easier than you thought.

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