Ah yes, there’s no place like home for the holidays, especially when you’re a college student. The food is free, the bed linens are fresh, and alarm clocks are simply clocks with no alarms. But after all the gift exchanges and jello-mold binges, school will call again. After all, there are classes to take and social functions to attend! So when you’re back in the Ramen noodles groove, taking notes on Steinbeck and creating imaginary business plans, here are some tips on saving money. Because as well all know, money seems to be in short supply in college after all the bills are paid.
Manage the money you have
- Pay close attention to your checking/saving account(s). Are there a lot of fees attached? Allow us to be a bit partisan here and recommend you keep your funds with Vantage, or at least another credit union. We usually have fewer fees. And our people are nice!
- Keep a good record of your checking account and its balances. Those overdraft charges won’t help you kick the bologna sandwich routine anytime soon.
- Have a credit card? Be sure you have one with the lowest interest rate possible. If you pay off the balance each month (as you should!), the interest won’t matter much. And pay your credit card bill on time! Nothing bolsters your credit score (and avoids late fees) like bills that are paid on time! Check out our credit card offerings.
- As a mini savings plan, save all the change that jingles in your pocket. It’ll add up over time. And don’t use those automatic change counters in the grocery store to count your nickels and dime; they’ll, uh, nickel and dime you to death. They’ll charge a tidy little fee to do something you can easily do for free yourself. Or, bring it to your credit union at no cost. Another benefit of membership!
- Do you know anyone who’s already taken the class(es) you’re taking this semester? Maybe they’ll lend you the book(s) used in that class.
- Books don’t have expiration dates (yes, we know new editions come out, but hardly every semester), so buy them used, or rent them if possible. Ye olde campus bookstore may have a small supply of used books, but if you’re too late there, check online at such places as campusbooks.com or buyusedcollegebooks.net.
- After you get that “A” in Econ, sell your books online. This will earn you a little cash as well as help out some other hungry students looking for deals on used books!
- So many people develop their taste for coffee while in college as they consume the stimulant to help them through all-night study sessions. No problem there, just don’t make the corner cappuccino shop your everyday destination. Those foaming cups o’ caffeine will quickly deflate your already slim budget. Invest in a small coffee machine for your apartment/dorm room and make your own.
- Looking for an edible that’s cheap and filling? Look no further than a large cylinder of oatmeal. We’d mention Ramen noodles, but we’re pretty sure you’re already familiar with the wonders of those meal deals.
- Fast food? Ugh. While there are cheap options, the stuff you really like is probably a bit more expensive…and unhealthy. Keep more nutritious (and cheap) options handy. Try peanut butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, etc.
- Clip those coupons! Keep an eye on store circulars. There are often saving opportunities if you look.
- Skip the bottled water. Recycle a bottle and fill it with tap water. Even the vain celebrities have seen the errors of their ways with the whole water-bottle-as-a-prop gig.
- Join your parents’ cell phone plan to help save some money.
- Texting? It’s an expense you can limit when you’re trying to make ends meet. Or, consider a pay-as-you-go option that may offer unlimited calling/texting/multimedia for a lot less than standard carriers.
- Places like Facebook, Twitter and Skype offer a free (for now) point of contact.
- Do you really need to visit a high-end salon to get the latest ‘do from Jorge? You may even be able to find a place that offers student discounts.
- Share a room/apartment? How about sharing toiletries such as shampoo, hair spray, a hair dryer, etc.
- Purchase your personal stuff at a discount retailer and/or buy the “store brand.” Many times the only difference between the name brands and store brands is the slick commercials and fancy packaging.
Earning a degree comes with a hefty price tag, so saving money where you can is a very practical idea. If you need further assistance with costs, remember that Vantage offers a variety of loans, including the EdAccess Private Student Loan when federal funding is exhausted. And for the latest news and information on issues concerning paying for college, visit our College Resource Center.