College, almost inevitably, comes hand-in-hand with a shortage of cash. Whether or not you’re racking up student loans on top of going to school, we all know that putting in a full day of class and on top is simply not conducive to full time jobs and/or keeping our bank accounts full in any shape.
Add to that the pull of your money from right and left: books, rent, FOOD, (who knew it cost so dang much anyway?!), the occasional desperate need for new socks and underwear, friends who think you should split a pizza and the calls to do things like, say: go snowboarding, catch a movie, hit up a local band, or take a spring break road trip in the hopes of recovering some sanity, all require money that remains significantly absent for at least a good solid four years. So, how can you fake having a life and get out of college without having lived the life of a starving hermit? You save money, whenever and wherever. Here are 4 lifestyle changes to help you save money at college:
When you first head off to college, it feels like the world is at your fingertips. You think you can finally do anything, anywhere, whenever you feel like it. But, you’re going to have to prepare yourself that money is going to be lacking and it’s probably going to put on a damper on your ability to do anything, anywhere, whenever. Prepare yourself now for the possibility you’ll have to cut out some of your favorite, more expensive sports like skiing or golfing. Be expecting that frugal thrift clothing shops are soon going to be your place to shop, not Saks. Be ready to start saving and budgeting and planning. But, remind yourself that it’s only temporary. If you can keep reminding yourself that whatever you’re “giving up” is only for the next four years and then hopefully soon after you’ll be back in a place where you can more easily support your preferred likes and habits, it’ll make the interlude more bearable. Knowledge is always the best way to go.
Whether you’re buying your textbooks (NEVER buy them new), groceries, movie tickets, or clothing, you’re going to want to become the world’s newest, best-est, smart-est most economical shopper that ever was. Let’s break it down:
Love you some coupons! It all adds up. Pick one store that offers rewards for your points and stick with that store. And then, cash in on your benefits. It’s ridiculous how many people earn points and never do anything with the reward just sitting there waiting for them. Buy in bulk. If you have some roomies or a group of friends, you should consider making Costco your go-to store. You should especially go in on the bulky stuff like toilet paper and paper towels. Give up your “thing” for brand name. Kix and Corn Puffs are the same thing. Besides, you’re too old for the toy anyway. If you try to be more dedicated to three solid meals, you’ll tend to snack less, and snacks are often where the grocery bill really adds up.
As I said, thrift stores just became your new favorite, hip, trendy place to go. Keep your eye out on websites that offer a steal a day. Clothing also makes great gift requests come Christmas time. You may not ever laugh again at the thought of socks in your stocking.
For stuff like movies, buy the deals online or in stores like Costco where you can get a significant discount. Most of the time, you can almost always get a discount for being a student: bowling, music events, sporting events, etc. Never hesitate to at least ask. Get involved in volunteer work. It’s free, it can be fun, and you’ll meet new people while you’re at it. This can seriously be as easy as playing bingo at a nursing home, taking kids to the park for popsicles, or walking the shelter dogs. FREE! (Added bonus: this stuff looks awesome on a resume.)
Hair cuts, doctor appointments, teeth cleaning. That stuff is expensive, but necessary. Check for places like beauty schools and dental schools. You may shudder at the thought of anyone “practicing” on you, but know that the supervision is extremely strict and you should be able to get exactly what you want and need at a much lower price. Always take advantage of your college medical office. The discount makes any wait well worth it.
Invent a New You
While you may shy away from this idea, it will really help you out during the next four years if you embrace this concept. College is always bragged up as a place to re-invent yourself. Take that to the next level by learning how to save money at college. If you’re a designer label wearer only, then look at college (and lack thereof of funding) to be your opportunity to create a new style. Maybe trendier, maybe more “hipster,” embrace the past styles and explore, have fun with it! Steal your parents old clothing, there’s a good chance it’s back in style anyway. Become a healthier eater, it’s generally cheaper. Become someone concerned about the environment, become a local-foodie. Don’t look at the fact you can’t afford Digiornio anymore, love the fact that you’re about to learn how to make your own pizza for the first time from scratch. Become a book reader instead of a TV watcher. Go run around the city and explore something new while you’re at it instead of keeping the treadmill warm at the gym. You get the drift.
Become an Entrepreneur
You don’t have to be completely broke, nor do you have to be at the whim and mercy of an employer. Do your own thing, whatever it is that you’re good at it. Tutor in your prime subject. Babysit the kids next door. Fix computer problems around the dorm. Write a blog and sell some ad space. Be creative and you’ll be surprised where you can find ways to make a little extra spending money.