Tuition costs and living expenses keep going up. Many college students are on their own for the first time, so making ends meet is a new challenge. How can students manage money so they can pay for college and still have enough to live? Follow these money-saving tips.
Separate Wants From Needs
When you lived at home and your parents paid your bills, you may not have thought much about what was essential to daily living and what was just nice to have. When you go to college, even if your parents are helping you, your income is limited. Learn to tell the difference between wants and needs. Pay for what you absolutely must have before you even think of purchasing items on the “wants” list.
Every time you go to the store or shop online, ask yourself in which category the item falls. If you don’t need it, put it away until you’ve purchased everything you need and are current on your bills.
Create a Budget That Involves Savings
A budget must be realistic for you to follow it. Gather your bills for the past few months and pull up your bank account information. Add up what you spend on an ongoing basis, and separate expenses into categories, such as tuition, books, food, rent, utilities, etc. Base your budget on what you spend.
Before you decide how much money you’ll have left over, dedicate a percentage of it to savings. You never know when an emergency will come up, and having savings prevents you from going into credit card debt or being stuck without funds.
Be Careful With Credit
Credit cards can help you build credit, but they also can get you into trouble. Never charge more than you can pay off in a month. It’s tempting to think you can make that big purchase and delay paying it off, but that’s not how to save money. Interest rates drive up the expense and waste your hard-earned cash.
Buy Used Textbooks
Go to class before you buy any textbooks. Some professors will suggest books you must have for the course and others that are just supplemental. Used textbooks are often less than half the price of new ones. You’ll only use them for a semester, so it makes sense to buy used. Shop online and at local bookstores to find competitive prices.
Go Without a Car
If a car payment and insurance aren’t in your budget, manage money by doing without. If you live on campus, you can walk to most of what you need, and there’s always someone nearby you can talk into giving you a ride. Use public transportation when you have to go for groceries. Uber and Zipcar will also get you where you need to go.
Brew Your Own Coffee
Instead of sipping expensive brew every day, make your own to save money. Get together with roommates to buy a coffee machine and stay stocked with everyone’s favorite blends.