Heather P. Johnson is a freelance writer, as well as a contributor for Credit Card Lowdown, a site for finding credit card reviews. Heather invites your comments and freelancing job opportunities at her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many of us have to maintain a lean lifestyle when we are in college. While you could argue that this is an effective way to build character, that perspective doesn’t make life any easier when you’re sitting down for another bowl of Ramen noodles. If you are a college student who is having trouble making ends meet, try the following 12 simple tips for saving money.
- Create a household budget. Most importantly, you need to make sure you stick to the budget. American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) offers a free household budget worksheet.
- Avoid buying new textbooks. If you can’t find what you need at a local used bookstore, try eBay or socialbib. The latter is a free online book swap for college students.
- Sell your books wisely. If the college bookstore is offering very little, see if your textbooks are going for more on eBay or Amazon.
- Don’t splurge on fashionable clothes. You will have the rest of your life to be chic. For now, all you need is something comfortable to get you through those boring lectures (and maybe one suit for interviews).
- Use college discounts. Many restaurants and shops around town probably offer college discounts without your knowledge. Never be afraid to ask.
- Clip coupons. Effective “couponing” can save a bundle, though it will be a bit time consuming on the weekends. There are many coupon clippers who consistently save hundreds of dollars on groceries each month. Learn how to get started here.
- Eat at home. While you can’t always eat at home when you’re on the go, you should really reduce those trips to the drive-thru. They will eat through your wallet and wreak havoc on your waistline.
- Consider a roommate. If you are currently living alone and having trouble paying rent, it could be time for a roommate. There will be plenty of interested (and interesting) people around campus who can split the rent with you.
- Transfer credit card balances with high interest rates. Many of us can’t wait for our first credit card when we enter college. In fact, the companies often come to us when high school is finished. However, interest rates can skyrocket after an introductory period. Consider transferring high balances to a zero-interest card that offers a reasonable APR when that introductory period is over. (Don’t close the original account, however. It can mess up your credit history.)
- Avoid partying on the weekends. College doesn’t have to be synonymous with partying. Not only will it make Monday morning classes harder and harder to attend, drinking can be very expensive. Find a more practical way to relax when you aren’t in class or studying.
- Ride a bike. Do you live close to campus? If so, then you may be needlessly spending money on gas. Ride a bicycle whenever it’s feasible and you will help save money, as well as the environment.
- Skip paid television. Assuming you are already paying for an Internet connection, you don’t need paid television. Many networks rerun their programs online now (try Hulu.com. Besides, you have more important things to do than sit in front of the television, like studying or finding post-college employment!
Although it doesn’t sound very fun to you now, being frugal in college can have positive effects on your future. Every year, more young adults are graduating college with substantial debt. While student loans are sometimes necessary, you shouldn’t have a significant amount of debt when starting out with your career. Some careful planning today will help you for many years to come.
Photo by Carey Tilden
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