It doesn't matter if you are a senior or a sophomore in college, managing your money will be among your topmost priorities. Sure, college life isn't all about the bells and whistles, as the vast majority of students are already under pressure from debts and related expenses. Pair that with the fact that education itself is a significant source of stress, and you have a concoction that promotes mismanagement and increases to your troubles. Allocating money towards expenses such as accommodation, food, fees takes a significant amount of know-how and can contribute to your worries too. For that reason, we have collected some of the best ways you can save money in college and not have to struggle in this regard anymore.
Buy only what you need
At this age, it is easy to go over budget and buy things based on impulses alone. Sure, this would be a good thing to do if money wasn't a problem, but if finances are limited, this is just a waste of money. Therefore, an excellent way to regulate your expenses is to only buy items that you need. You need to sort things out based on their necessity and use that to determine your purchases. It really helps to write down a list of items that are essentials, such as groceries and toiletries, and make a separate list for your wants. You want to spend the main portion of your money on these necessities, and add the remaining amount towards your desires.
Look for free goods
Since money needs to be spent judiciously, the ideal scenario would involve acquiring free products. Although that is too much to ask, you should try to scope out opportunities to get free items, such as competition freebies. Being on the lookout for chances to enter yourself in raffle draws, competitions and other events where free things are likely is good too. If you look online, you will find communities that are dedicated to discovering competitions with giveaways and other sweet deals. Likewise, you will find numerous brands looking for people to send their products, to receive their reviews and opinions in return.
Manage your money
Arguably the most solid way to save money is to know where it is going from your pocket. The main mistake many college students make is that they simply keep paying any bills and expenses that come up without paying attention to the amount of money they're paying and the reason why. For this purpose, it is recommended to make an Excel Spreadsheet or something similar, and add any purchases and payments to it promptly. This would allow you to keep an eye on the amount of money being spent and simplify any calculations down the line.
Make a budget and stick to it
If you don't have a budget to follow, it is safe to say that your expenses will be all over the place. Just like how a successful project starts with a proper design plan, your expenses need to follow the same format as well. Budgeting isn't something that just comes naturally, though. If you are confused about how to divide your money and need some assistance, it is an excellent idea to take the help of an older friend or relative. Making a budget allows you to visualize the inflow and outflow of money and understand the potential points where improvements can be made.
Buy quality over quantity
Most students make the rookie mistake of going for cheap goods over quality ones. Sure, your budget may not allow you to get those expensive shoes you saw at the mall yesterday, but that doesn't mean you should make do with low-quality goods. If you break out the math, buying more of a cheap item is considerably more expensive than buying a quality item once and forgetting about it. Quality goods last longer and retain their looks for equal time as well. There is also the factor of comfort, as cheap goods often maintain their price point by sacrificing exactly that.
Use coupons when shopping
Another good way to save cash is to shop smart. In continuation of our previous trick, using the coupons and other discounts when shopping is a viable option for students looking to save money. Many big brand retailers and outlets give out coupons by mail, magazines or even through online sources. In many cases, these coupons are offered as part of a sale or occasion. As such, you need to keep your eyes peeled for any coupons, and plan your shopping around them. Once you have a coupon for every item you wish to purchase, you can simply head on over to the stores and get what you want.
Avoid buying single-use items
A significant way to save money is to reuse items instead of purchasing new ones. Not only will you do nature a big favour, but you would also save a significant amount of cash in the process as well. For instance, instead of buying a bottle of water to quench your thirst, you can take a refillable one and fill it up at a hydrant. A sturdy water bottle should last you a couple of months at least, and if you go for one with a metal body, it can easily be used for a year or more.
Don’t rely on credit cards
If you are earning some money on the side in college, it might be enticing to go for that low-interest credit cards and use that as the primary vehicle for your purchases. Although the offers and promotions for those cards state them as the perfect solution for students, the reality is that most students are already under some amount of debt. Add in the credit card fees and interest, and you will see your wallet dwindle. Now, you may require a credit card if you want to make some online purchases, but that can be solved by using a dedicated internet purchase card that is effectively a debit card.
Know the markets
People tend to lose money as they often shop at inopportune times. Buying items as soon as a sale has ended will simply cause you to spend more money on something that was just available for cheap. This is also the case with online purchases, as timing your purchases with promotional periods is essential to save money. For instance, if you look online for an assignment service, you will notice that they have certain offers that make them a better deal than the others. For this purpose, you need to find a service that offers you the best value for the money, preferably with positive reviews.
Use campus facilities and perks
Many colleges and universities have benefits in place for their students, which they might not be aware of. Depending on the college you go to, you might be eligible for a student discount at bookstores and some brands, as well as software solutions. As an example, it is possible to acquire a free copy of Microsoft Office in most colleges by merely using your university login credentials. To see if you are eligible, you can visit the official website and enter your school email address to find out.