While life in college can be fun, it’s also quite expensive and you can be tempted to overspend your finances. But if you know that you have a life full of responsibilities after graduating, you can be wiser with your money and save some money to help you start on the right footing upon graduation.
Basically, almost every student can live a comfortable life in college even when they are following a well-thought budget. This is because you have your eyes fixed on a specific goal and you are more concerned about how you spend every coin. As such, it’s quite easy to restrain yourself from unhealthy spending sprees.
It’s true that there are lots of expenses to take care of and sometimes they can pile up pretty fast. Nevertheless, it’s in your best interest if you start developing a saving habit early in your college days and you will have a better life in college.
Make sure you utilize the meal plan
Although meal plans in most colleges are quite expensive, there are people who have a chronic habit of not depleting their allocation. Normally, the remaining balances at the end of the year won’t be rolled over to the next academic year. As a result, any money that hasn’t been spent will be returned back to the school accounts.
Striving to use every coin on the meal plan may be daunting since the food can get boring but it’s really great for saving some cash you could have used by eating out. It’s also a good idea to inquire if there are any options for cheaper meal plans if you don’t want to eat a full meal at school so that you can avoid paying for meals you don’t eat.
When you need to buy small household items, you can use the meal plan for the shopping at the convenience store in college. In most instances, the items on sale at these stores are over-priced but it’s better if you purchase here than foregoing the meal card balance only to spend some money from your pocket to make the purchases.
Create and follow a budget
The mere idea of budgeting can be scary for most people and it’s not something most students can look forward to. It’s not easy to restrict yourself from spending your money especially when you have full control. Nevertheless, this is a critical step if you want to get ahead with your savings plan. The good thing is that we are in the technology era and the market is teeming with different applications that can really make your budgeting tasks easy.
Most of these apps are quite helpful in tracking where your money is going in any given month. Besides being free, the apps can enable you to share your progress with friends for the purposes of accountability.
Grab a side hassle
When you have some money trickling into your account on a regular basis, saving can be easy and fun. But if your college schedule doesn’t allow you to have a full-time job, you can get a part-time job which isn’t too demanding and can be handled whenever you have some free time.
The best side hassles are online-based because they are designed to offer high flexibility with time as well as money. If you are quite busy, you can take some online surveys and while they don’t pay much, it can be a great source of extra income. But with enough time, you can engage in high paying gigs like design and article writing.
Renting your textbooks instead of buying
When you are attending college, textbooks will account for a huge part of your overall expenses. In most cases, you can get around having a textbook because you would lag behind when a class is based exclusively on textbooks. Before you rush to buy a textbook, it’s good that you find someone who has been there before you and see if they can lend you the book. Alternatively, find out if the professor is strict on textbooks.
However, if you feel that you need a book, go to the bookstore and rent one since they have a program where you can rent a textbook for an entire term. This is a great option for books that can only be used in a single semester and become obsolete.
When you can’t get a book to rent, you can cut the costs by getting a used copy at a cheaper price. In the end, you will end up saving lots of cash by the time you are graduating.
Get smart with credit and minimize student debt
For most people, life in college provides a great opportunity to sign up for your own credit card and slowly build your personal credit scores. Nevertheless, this is only a good option if you are ready to restrict yourself from over-utilizing the card.
According to a recent study, more than 30% of college students are having significant credit card debts. If the credit card comes with high-interest rates, charging items that appear harmless like a coffee or pizza can lead to huge debts. If you want to avoid this scenario, you should limit your credit card usage to emergency expenses and the total balances should be paid immediately.
If you are already carrying credit card debts, you can take a personal loan with lower interest rates and use it to clear the debt. This is a good idea because credit card debt tends to be more expensive than most personal loans. Then, with the income you’ve been generating from the side hassle, you can service the personal loan and save some money.
Consider alternative housing options
Most students tend to think that the only place you can stay is in a college dorm. Despite the popularity of this option, you should know that it’s not the most cost-effective way of living. In some occasions, getting accommodation outside the campus can be a cheaper option.
However, living outside college means that you will have to handle your utility bills as well as bear with the landlord. At the same time, you will have fewer restrictions compared to the campus dorm. But before you decide on where to live, ensure you do a thorough research to establish which one is the cheaper option between living on campus and renting out of the school. You can find useful information from realtors about the available apartments as well as the average rates charged per month.
Although following a budget means that you’ll have to forego some things, it’s better to train yourself to live like that early in life when you don’t have many commitments. Besides, it doesn’t make any sense to start life after college with tons of debt.
If you can master money saving habits, it’s likely that you’ll get out of college with a tidy sum of money that you can invest in a business or any other investment of your choice. And who wouldn’t want to have some money available when they are hunting for your first job?