By: Kristina Hall, Quizzle.com
Being a college student can mean a lot of things, but along with all of the fun comes new responsibilities. It's the first time you learn how to do a lot of things on your own, including keeping a personal budget. While it's definitely no Friday night, it's an important part of the college experience, as no one wants to graduate with even more debt.
Along with keeping track of the money coming in and (sigh) the money coming out, here are a few money saving tips to help you while you're away from home:
1. Take advantage of campus activities.
Your school wants you to enjoy yourself while you're there, so most campuses will host events that are free for students to attend. Anything from sporting events to stand-up comedian performances could fall under this category of school-sponsored events. Student groups and organizations are a good place to start to look for a list of upcoming events. You might be surprised to find out how much you can save on the weekend by going to a few free things every once in a while.
2. Use student discounts.
Going along with finding out what kind of deals your school offers, check out the local restaurants and stores in your college town to see if any of them give special discounts to students. This could be a cheaper ticket to the movies, a free drink with your meal or even a percentage off your purchase at your favorite retail clothing store.
Who knew that having a student ID could be like having a reusable coupon to all your favorite places?
3. Buy used.
It's just a fact - Sometimes things aren't taken the best care of in a college house or apartment. At the same time, why shouldn't students be able to have nice furniture? That's where buying used comes in handy.
Look at online classifieds for used furniture. There may even be a Web site specifically for students at your school. There's a good chance you'll find some great deals, especially if you look for people who are having moving sales. Since you aren't buying something new you don't have to make a long-term commitment to a color or style.
You can also buy used products when it comes to books and other class requirements. And then at the end of the year, you can sell your books and furniture before leaving campus to make some extra cash for the summer.
4. Host group events.
Most college students miss home-cooked dinners with the family. Bring home to your home-away-from-home by recreating that home atmosphere at your college apartment. Once every two weeks (more or less depending on everyone's schedules), have a group meal with your friends and roommates.
Often times, buying and cooking for one can be tricky. Buying for a group can actually be more cost-effective (food isn't going to waste) and cooking is easier (since most recipes are written for more than one serving). Rotate who cooks and who hosts, but every time divide the grocery bill amongst everyone that comes - It usually ends up only being a few dollars per person, so it's a great alternative to eating out with friends all the time.
5. Look for other alternatives.
Love having coffee in the morning while you're in your first class? Make it at home instead of buying an overpriced cup'o'joe at a coffee shop. Pack a lunch or a snack rather than going out to eat in between classes. Other luxury expenses can really add up, so if you can figure out a way to tweak your expensive habits and save a little (or a lot) of money, you'll definitely appreciate it in the long-run.
6. Watch sales.
Keep an eye out for sales on items you purchase regularly. Paying a sale price for the things you use on a daily basis will save you money in the long run. Shop around at different grocery markets and drug stores for the best price on these staple products. One great thing about comparing prices is that competing stores could be offering discounts on different products each week.
7. Walk, bike, carpool, or ride the bus.
With ever-increasing gas prices, driving a car around campus can get pretty costly. Instead, bring a bike with you to campus or walk to class when you can (weather permitting). Also, look into public transportation at your school. A monthly or semester bus pass could save you money on gas for those trips that are too far for your bike. If you have no alternative to driving yourself to class, find neighbors or classmates that want to carpool. You'll all save money on gas and parking!
8. Cut back on utilities.
There are some little changes you can make in your daily routine that could save you money on your utility bills. Simply unplugging your cell phone charger when it's not being used or opening windows instead of using a fan or the air conditioning can save on electricity costs.
Also, try using natural light during the day and turning off all unnecessary lights. Taking timed showers and only doing full loads of laundry (whenever possible) can save money on the water bill. On top of saving money, you are also being more environmentally-friendly!
These eight ideas can help minimize a few of the most common financial burdens as a college student. This way, you can spend your time worrying about more important things, like what's for dinner or what to be for Halloween.
Check out the Quizzle Blog for more home, money and credit news and advice:
- 55 Money Saving Tips (Your Wallet Will Thank You)
Debunking Credit Myths: The Real Truth on Credit Reports & Scores
- Good Credit Saves Money: 7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
- From the Ground-Up: 5 Ways to Build Credit from Scratch
- Will Closing Credit Card Accounts Help Your Credit Score?
Don't forget to visit Quizzle.com, the only site that gives you both a free credit report and free credit score, no catches, no trial subscriptions, no credit card required.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stuartpilbrow