We’ve all heard it before, from our advisors, our mentors and of course our parents: “learn to save your money.” Now that you’re away from home, you have probably started to realize saving money on a college students’ income is much easier said then done. In fact, many of you may not even know where to start or even how to begin to save money because you likely have never had to before. The following are 5 simple ways you can save some green in college, while on a tight budget, and hopefully learn from to use after graduation.
Understand how much you can spend each month
Get out a calculator and figure out how much money you have and can spend. This means adding all the income from your loans, scholarships, employment and allowance from family. Figure out the total amount you will receive and divide by 12. Yes, I’m accounting for both summer vacation and winter break, because lets face it, you’re going to have to eat, pay bills and rent. The goal of this exercise is for you to understand how much you have allocated for books, food, tuition, rent, bills and any co-curricular activities, such as organizations you are in. Also, you can begin to visually quantify how much your monthly expenses can total.
Buy used textbooks
Textbooks maybe the one part of college everyone dreads paying for, especially when a new edition comes out only six months after the pervious. Look around for used books, notably in your first two-years of college when you’re taking care of your basic requirements. Ninety-percent of the time you’ll probably never touch the textbook again after the class is over. Some sites to get discounted and used books include: Abebooks.com, Chegg.com and Amazon.com.
If you still think coupons are lame, think again. Why wouldn’t you want to pay less for stuff you already need like toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo, laundry detergent and food? Not only will you save on these things, but there are also many online coupon aggregators, with mobile applications, so you don’t need to purchase the Sunday paper or cut anything out. Some coupon sites include: Cellfire.com, Yowza.com and Coupons.com. Also, group-buying sites, such as Groupon.com and Livingsocial.com, have risen in popularity over the past couple of years. Pay attention to these and more than likely you will find something to help you save.
Learn to cook
We all have to eat, right? Instead of ordering another pizza or sitting in the drive through at your favorite fast food place (although I know some hometown restaurant’s can’t be avoided), learn to cook. You will be surprised how much money you’ll save by eating out less. Honestly, cooking is not that difficult, unless you decide to make it difficult. I can remember cooking up a chicken breast with a side of mashed potatoes and veggies in less than 30 minutes. Check out YumYum.com and this resource from Minnesota State University for quick and simple recipes.
Buy your furniture from Craigslist.org
A post about saving in college wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Craigslist. Tons of people are looking for a safe and easy way to get ride of perfectly fine furniture. This is your opportunity to get a decent couch, dining table, coffee table or desk for your apartment or dorm room at a reasonable price; there is no need to finance a brand new furniture set from the store when you can get a used one for half the cost or less.
College will be one of the most memorable times of your life, and the lessons you learnwill stay with you forever, especially as it relates to managing your finances. What saving techniques do you recommend or are currently paying off while in college?
Komail Mithani is the Marketing Coordinator at OrgSync, a provider of online community management solutions for higher education institutions. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010 with a degree in Public Relations. To connect with Komail, view his ePortfolio and follow him on Twitter @kmithani.