Budget and Save

The College Student’s Ultimate Guide to Saving Money

Erin Palmer

October 02, 2017

college student studies outdoors

College is an investment in your future. But it sure can be expensive!

Don’t get into a financial panic. Yes, college has a lot of associated costs. However, there are plenty of ways to save money while you pursue your degree.

Be Smart with Student Loans

Student loans are often a necessity for many college students. But before you sign any paperwork, you’ll want to understand the specifics of the loan such as:

  • Interest rates
  • Fees
  • Repayment schedule

Take advantage of any financial aid you can and talk to your school’s financial aid advisors to see if they can help you talk through your options. Many financial institutions also offer student loans or parent loans to help fund a student’s education.

Being smart about student loans helps you save money in the long-term. Because even if graduation seems far away today, someday you’ll have to repay the debts you incur in college. And your future self will surely appreciate the smart choices you make today!

Choose Credit Cards Wisely

Credit cards are also important to use the right way. Your first credit card can help you establish your credit and have funds in case of an emergency. Make sure you are ready for your first credit card before you apply.

Choose a credit card that makes sense for your needs. Though many retail stores offer their own credit cards, don’t sign up for a credit card as an impulse. Take the time to understand the specifics of a credit card before you apply.

Much like student loans, being careful about what credit cards you apply for and how you use them can help you save money in the future.

Not only can you save money by choosing cards with low interest rates, but you also want to build good credit over time. Because once you have a good credit score, it will be easier to get better rates for future credit cards and loans.

college students shopping outdoors

Make a Budget

One of the best ways you can control your spending is by making a budget and sticking to it. This will help make sure your bills get paid, your savings continues to grow and your nonessential spending stays within an amount you can afford.

If the idea of creating a budget makes you cringe, don’t worry! There are plenty of resources available to help you make a budget without stress.

Check out what kind of budgeting tools your financial institution offers to help you set financial goals and monitor your spending habits. There are also plenty of apps and free online templates that make budgeting easy.

10 Simple Ways to Save Money

These easy money-saving tips can add up to make a big difference:

  • Make a list before shopping and stick to it. No impulse buys!
  • Be on the lookout for free food! Colleges host a ton of free events that include food, so do some research each week to see if there are any going on near you.
  • Eat before you go to a grocery store. Hungry shopping is a no-no!
  • Always ask if there is a student discount. Keep your college ID on you at all times to take advantage of these savings.
  • Find free or cheap events for entertainment. Most colleges offer a lot of fun activities for free and there are also a lot of community events with little to no cost.
  • Be smart with textbooks. Consider buying used books, looking for the books in the library or renting books for the semester. If you do buy your books, sell them back when the semester is over.
  • Buy in bulk when possible to cut down on costs. You can even go in on grocery items with friends and split the costs and the food.
  • Check to see if your student housing has TV before signing up for any entertainment packages. If you decide to do Netflix, Hulu or other subscription services, consider splitting the cost with your roommate.
  • Take advantage of the library. From books for classwork to movies for entertainment, the library has a lot of freebies to offer.
  • Look for everyday ways to save, like buying generic instead of name brands or shopping at secondhand stores for gently used items.

Make a habit out of smart financial choices. College is the first step toward a brilliant future, and careful planning can help ensure yours is bright and debt-free!

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