8 Practical Money Saving Tips for Students on a Budget

As a college student, you have a limited budget. You need to stretch every dollar if you want to have money for food, entertainment, and travel – not to mention your day-to-day living expenses.

When we work with our members who are in college, we often get asked for money saving tips they can use to stretch their budgets and make the most of their college experience. With that in mind, here are eight tips to help you save money in college.

#1: Save on Textbooks

College textbooks are expensive – in fact, the average students spends more than a thousand dollars per semester on textbooks. You don’t need to be one of them.

You can save money in a few ways. For example, you might:

  • Check the college bookstore or online to see if you can find a used textbook for less money than a new one
  • Buy new textbooks online if they’re less expensive than they are in the campus bookstore
  • Rent textbooks instead of buying them
  • Check texts that you won’t need for long out of the library instead of buying them

You may want to rent textbooks for electives and buy those for your major, so you have them for future reference.

#2: Choose Your Meal Plan Carefully

You’ll undoubtedly eat some meals on campus, but it may be less expensive to minimize your meal plan and buy groceries, instead – especially if you’re living in off-campus housing.

Pay attention to how often you eat on campus and buy the meal plan that most closely matches your habits. You’ll save money that you can use in other areas.

#3: Be Careful When Buying Groceries

If you have roommates, you may want to consider going in on a membership at Costco or Sam’s Club, so you can buy some items in bulk. Over the course of a year, you can save a significant amount on items that you know you’ll use a lot of.

It’s also a good idea to download a coupon app or even buy the local Sunday paper and clip coupons. If you use coupons regularly, you can save hundreds of dollars throughout the school year.

#4: Use Online Streaming Instead of Paying for Cable

Even a basic cable package can be expensive. To cut costs, try getting a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Any one of the three will cost you far less than a monthly cable bill.

Of course, you can save even more money if you can log in with your family’s Netflix password (or your roommate can). With the money you save, you can afford a night out each month.

Financial Planning 101: Crash Course for College Students

#5: Make Your Own Coffee

College students may spend several dollars or more each day if they get into the habit of buying coffee at a café or kiosk every morning. You can save that money if you buy an inexpensive coffee maker instead.

You can get a decent coffee maker for less than $20. Even if you buy a coffee grinder and decent beans, you’ll spend far less than you would if you went out for coffee every day. The coffee in the cafeteria might be awful, but if you get a thermos you can bring fresh coffee with you.

#6: Use Your Student Discount

One of the biggest benefits of being a full-time student is that you can qualify for discounts with your student ID. You’ll probably find that a lot of local businesses offer significant breaks for students.

Keep in mind, too, that you can get things like discounted theater and concert tickets with your student ID. If you’re not sure, ask – the worst that can happen is that they’ll say no. And remember, you can still get the discount even when school’s not in session.

#7: Use Campus Resources

Most college campuses have a ton of resources available for students. These may include everything from free Wi-Fi to on-campus movie nights. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your school’s online event and campus bulletin boards.

You don’t need to stay on campus all the time, but if you can see a movie for a fraction of what it would cost at the theater, it makes sense to do it. You may even get sneak peeks of upcoming movies and other cool perks.

#8: Prepay Interest on Your College Loans

If you’re borrowing any money to pay for school, one way to save money is to make small monthly payment against your loans while you’re still in school. Even paying $10 a month in interest will save you money in the future.

Contact your lender to find out how to handle early payments. You may even be able to set up an automatic online payment to go out each month.

Saving money in college isn’t easy, but these eight tips can help you spend less while still enjoying the college experience.

To learn how Addition Financial’s Aspire Checking Account can help you manage your money, please click here.

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