1. Take Your ID Everywhere
Having a student ID is like owning a key to the city. It grants semi-exclusive access to all kinds of discounts and deals. Whether you’re going to the movies, the museum, or just out for a bite to eat, be sure you have your student ID on hand. You never know when and where it’ll save you some cash.
2. Get a Student Bank Account
Most major banks offer some kind of student account. While you’ll earn little to no interest with these accounts, they don’t have the fees and minimum balances of other accounts. It’s also a smart way to start building some credit history.
It’s incredibly frustrating when the cashier rings up all of your textbooks and the price tag is half that of your semester’s tuition. Instead of shopping at the campus bookstore, rent textbooks or buy them used online. Check for the best deals at CampusBooks.com which collects and compares prices from Chegg, Half.com & Amazon. At the end of the year, you can sell those books back for a bit of cash.
4. Find a Job
We all play the sympathy card with parents, but let’s get real for a minute. Working 15 hours a week combined with a full class schedule isn’t going to send you spiraling into academic failure. On-campus jobs are ideal because they’re usually simple and accommodating of school schedules. If you can sneak some homework in while on the clock, even better. To start your search, try looking into these five part-time jobs.
5. Coupons Can be Cool
With all the coupon books handed out on campus, using them won’t give you a cheapskate stigma. If you can’t find the discount you need, there are plenty of online coupons and even mobile coupons to choose from.
6. Shop Used
With all of the moving you do in college, furniture changes hands left and right. To find furniture you’re not going to mind messing up, shop at garage sales and thrift stores. You can also find good deals on dishes, clothes and other home decorating items.
7. Eat at Home
The temptation to eat out in college is hard to resist. Delivery and drive-thru restaurants are everywhere. Keep yourself eating in your own kitchen by coming up with a few easy meals you actually enjoy. There’s no point in forcing yourself to choke down gross grub. To cut costs further, cook with friends. Each person can cover a different portion of dinner and you’ll all save money.
8. Entertainment Budget
College is whatever you make of it. With so many entertainment options, it’s certainly possible to never have a dull moment. However, living that lifestyle can impact your studies as well as your finances. It’s critical to prioritize what kinds of entertainment are most important to you and plan a monthly budget. Search for student nights and happy hours to stretch your dollar further.
9. Shop Smart
Forget about the iPhone 5 for a minute; there are more pressing expenses. Food is paramount. If you can’t trust yourself to cook each night, only buy groceries as you need them. That way you won’t have wasted money on a fridge full of expired food. Also, consider changing to a prepaid cellphone plan. In the months you don’t make many calls, you won’t pay any extra. Free online phone services like Skype are great for catching up with long-distance family and friends.
10. Use Alternative Transportation
Many schools offer discounted or even free passes for local public transportation. Remember, this isn’t high school; there’s no shame in taking the bus. Without a car you can avoid costly gas fill-ups and insurance payments. If there aren’t decent public-transportation options around your campus, bikes and skateboards are always a good choice.
11. Shop With Gift Cards
Some expenses are unavoidable. Luckily, you can save on the essentials at stores like Walmart and Target by purchasing discount gift cards from sites such as GiftCardGranny.com. If relatives have loaded you up with gift cards you’ll never use, you can always sell them and pick up some extra cash.
12. Use the Library
It might be hard to believe after a long study session, but the library is your friend. Before you start shopping for books, hit up the library and see if any of them are available. Some other common amenities include free high-speed Internet, DVD collections, magazines, newspapers, journals and quality computers.
13. Pass on Pets
Having your own place doesn’t mean it’s the perfect time to get that Great Dane mom and dad wouldn’t let you have. Pets are a huge expense and tons of responsibility. Far too many college students get a cute puppy and later decide it’s too much work. Pass on getting pets until you have more financial stability.
14. Explore the City
Consider a new city your playground. Going out with a few new friends and exploring far and wide is a fun and free way to acclimate yourself. If you’re in a big city and it seems overwhelming, try using the city guides from Mr. Free Stuff. They’ll direct you to all kinds of things to do for free in 17 different cities. Also, watch for city-specific discounts through daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social.