Many people report that their college years are the most exciting, challenging, and enjoyable periods in their lives. Moving out of your childhood home, meeting new friends and enjoying newfound freedom can all be extraordinary experiences for young adults, but not every aspect of college life is a cake-walk.
There are many struggles that college students ultimately face. Between the increased school workload, juggling part-time or full-time jobs, and financial struggles, making ends meet and making time for everything can be very difficult. Given the high cost of college, stretching your budget and getting the most out of every dollar is often the biggest strain for students.
To provide some assistance to those who need it, let’s look at five tips in particular that can truly maximize your budget while in college and ensure you’re not stressed out about money issues.
Look for Used Items
All too many people make the same mistakes when starting their college experiences or even just while buying everyday goods. Purchasing new items may give us a warm and fuzzy feeling, but many used equivalents can be found for a fraction of the price.
Some examples include dorm room furniture, household appliances, clothes from thrift stores and consignment shops, and even textbooks where applicable. Most items in these categories lose a substantial amount of their value (half or more) once used even just once. By shopping for used items instead of brand new goods, you can save thousands of dollars over the course of your college career.
Look for Samples
Many everyday items may not cost much, but they can surely add up over time. Whether it be pens and pencils, clipboards, bathroom accessories or phone chargers, getting the best price on these items can really affect your college budget over the long-term.
There are a variety of businesses, brands, and even websites where you can find lots of free samples that are incredibly useful. While you may not be able to accumulate every household item and accessory you need through such efforts, saving money is the name of the game – why pay for specific products when you can get samples for free?
Don’t Live on Your Own
One of the biggest cost-saving tips, while enrolled in college, is to never rent or lease an apartment or house on your own. Having roommates is an integral part of the college experience and can help keep costs down.
Due to the fact that certain necessities don’t perfectly scale in cost as more people are living under one roof, you can save a meaningful amount of money each month by sharing rent, utilities, and other essentials. Likewise, many colleges offer on-campus accommodations (which often are pricier); by sharing quarters with one or more people, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars each month.
Be Energy Efficient
Many young people pay no attention to their energy consumption. Especially in environments with multiple roommates, it can be hard to keep tabs on who’s using how much electricity. Fortunately, devices such as smart thermostats and energy-efficient lighting can dramatically reduce energy waste, often paying for themselves in mere months.
Avoid Expensive Social Situations
The temptation and peer pressure to go out, party and have a few drinks is immense in college. It’s also a very expensive habit under certain conditions. For those who like to drink at bars and restaurants, the tab can quickly get out of control. While a social life is necessary while in college, so is maintaining a responsible budget.
Find social situations that are free or lower cost. Rather than going out to drink, have a social gathering at home and avoid the steep retail prices of alcohol. Even just ordering water with your meals at a restaurant can save a couple of dollars each time. Be aware of these costs and do your best to substitute when possible.
College expenses can be immense, but saving large sums of money can be easily accomplished with just a few simple changes. By being aware of these expensive situations, you can take action to reduce or even outright eliminate these costs, thereby stretching your budget much farther than seemed possible.