Heading off to college is exciting! Maybe you’re in a new town, have new friends and trying new experiences all at the same time. But you know what’s not exciting? Debt from school loans. It may not seem like a big deal now. You don’t have to pay those back for another four years, right? Prepare yourself by using these seven tips to save money while going to school.
- Don’t buy new textbooks. It is surprising how expensive textbooks can be. Before buying new books go to your university library or try to borrow them from fellow students. If not, buy used textbooks on Amazon or try to rent them from places such as the Barnes and Noble’s textbook service.
- Save money on your new laptop. Check for discounts before you buy your next computer. Many stores will offer discounts to college students or campus bookstores may offer discounts on laptops to incoming students. Don’t forget to bring your school ID when you start your shopping!
- Watch your credit card balance. It is easy to get a credit card when you’re a college student, but challenging to pay it off. If you get a credit card, choose one with the lowest interest rate and only charge what you can pay for. Be sure to pay off the full balance on time each month to avoid late fees. This will help you build up credit and keep you from getting into credit card debt.
- Watch application dates. Some scholarships renew each year so be sure you take the time to reapply and be sure to get your applications in on time.
- Stay focused on your classes. The reality is that many students don’t complete their degree in four years and every additional semester is another big expense. Take advantage of university resources such as tutoring and academic advising to help you stay on track.
- Limit eating out. If you bought into the meal plan at school, use it. The cost of eating out adds up quickly. Save even more by stocking your mini-fridge with snacks and soft drinks from the grocery store instead of the vending machine or convenience store. Buy in bulk and consider getting a membership card to a store like Sam’s club.
- Skip the car. Paying for parking, gas and insurance (not to mention unexpected car repairs) are enough to break the bank. You can always use public transit, borrow a friend’s car, walk or bicycle, etc.
- Choose your housing wisely. It is typically less expensive to live in the dorms than off campus. Splitting the cost of rent and utilities with roommates can help you stretch your housing budget as well.
- Explore campus activities and amenities. Check out events that are available on campus: movie nights, fitness classes, concerts. Colleges and universities offer many events free of charge to students. Check them out before you drop $20 at the movie theater.