Best Ways to Save Money During College

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By Joe Keefe

College is a time when many people go into serious debt. The cost of an education combined with the lack of time to earn an income makes it tough to avoid debt. However, you can reduce the amount of debt you graduate with by doing all that you can to save money during your college years.

Some of the best ways to save money during college include:

o   Live at home. College students typically want to get away from home and live on their own for the first time. That’s certainly a valuable experience. However it’s also expensive. Consider staying at home with your parents for a few years to save a significant amount of money during college. Alternatively, be willing to live with multiple roommates in off-campus housing to reduce the cost of living that you have during your college years.

o   Give up your car. Many teenagers get a car when they are in their late teens. This is another way to experience freedom as a young adult. However, it’s a costly way to go. The price of the car itself, the insurance, the gas, the maintenance and parking on or near campus add up to a lot of money spent during college on having a car. College students don’t typically need a car since their lives generally revolve around a small distance from campus. Consider giving up your car during college to save money. Bike, walk and use public transportation instead.

o   Stay on top of your grades. A leading way to save money on the cost of college itself is to get scholarships that pay for your classes. The easiest way to get scholarships is to get good grades and then apply for academic-based scholarships. Alternatively, you can apply for athletic, volunteerism and essay-based scholarships. Do this throughout each semester of college. It’s tough to fit it in while you’re also studying, but it’s well worth it since it can save you a bundle on the cost of college.

o   Work part-time. It is definitely tough to work while going to school. However, there are part-time jobs available to students that are low-stress with flexible schedules. The more you work, the less debt you’ll accrue during your college years. Plus, you will save money because your time will be spent on work and school and not on costly entertainment.

o   Enjoy free and paid travel instead of fun trips. The college years are a great time to travel. However, you don’t want to spend your own money on travel. Spring break trips and travel back to your hometown are pricey. Instead, opt to participate in programs that allow you to travel for free – or even to get paid to travel! Teaching English in a foreign country, volunteering on a farm and doing charity work in a third world destination are all opportunities to have great educational travel experiences that don’t waste your money.

o   Pay with cash. Avoid getting into credit card debt when you are in college. A good rule of thumb is to always pay with cash for everything you need. This makes it a lot easier to clearly see whether or not you can afford a purchase. You’ll rapidly learn to make good decisions about what to buy and what you really don’t need, a savings lesson that will help you throughout your life!

o   Use your student discounts. College students get discounts on more things than you can possibly imagine. They get cheaper computer software. They pay less to see theater performances. The smartest way to save money is to not spend money at all but whenever you do go to spend money on a product or entertainment you should make sure that you ask if you get a student discount.

o   Educate yourself about economics. During your college years it can feel like you’re never going to have enough money to have to worry about things like choosing the right savings account or learning how to invest money in stocks. However, that time will come sooner than you think. Use your college years to start learning financial smarts so that you are ready to be a smart saver as soon as you have real savings.

Author Information

Joe Keefe has been giving financial advice for the past several years.  He currently blogs about savings and budget calculator aiming to help people find the best deals across the U.S.

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Categories: College Budgeting