Between tuition, books, rent, food and other costs, being a college student can get pricey quickly. Lots of students find themselves saddled with debt when they graduate. You can cut down on your debt by following a couple simple rules to saving money in college.
1. Eat in. College town food can balloon your costs…as well as your waistline (heard of the Freshman 15?). To avoid your food budget going out of control, you should set a strict limit for the number of times you’ll eat out a week, and stick to it. For instance, two eat-out meals a week, no more. You might want to get a meal plan on campus, but you almost always can eat cheaper off campus.
Making food yourself, either at home or at the dorm kitchen, will save you quite a bit of money. Easy and cheap meals include pasta and sandwiches. A loaf of sandwich bread plus peanut butter and jelly will last a long time, and it’s good for you, too. You can also try out new recipes with friends, to avoid eating in from getting monotonous.
2. Always buy books online. Textbooks are one of the most unnecessarily high costs for many college students. That’s because students are easily roped into getting their textbooks at the school bookstore, which has very high prices. If you plan ahead and buy your books online, you can save 50 percent or more on your textbook costs. You can also potentially share a textbook with someone else in your class.
3. Drive as little as possible. Gas can get expensive quickly, as can car maintenance. Save on both by investing in a used bike, or by just using your feet to get you around as much as possible. It will keep you in shape and help your wallet as well.
4. Turn it down. If you live in an apartment where you pay utilities, always turn off all the lights when you leave. Also, try to use only as much air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter as you actually need. By using a fan in the summer and putting on an extra sweater in the winter, you can cut ballooning utlity bills down to size.
5. Be smart at the store. When buying food and personal products, always look for generics. They’ll save you quite a bit, while providing the same thing as name brands. Also, don’t buy too much. As a college student, you’re generally cooking for one and only need enough stuff for one person. So buy only as much as you need, and if you later find that you need more, go again.