05 Nov Saving Money Doesn’t Have to Hurt – 10 Cost Savings Tips for College Students

by Tom Bailey,  Sr. Financial Literacy Trainer, ECMC

Just because you’re a student now doesn’t mean you necessarily need to live by the adage, “starving student.” Yes, your life has changed in so many ways and it’s true that you may not be able to afford the same lifestyle as you had before becoming a student. There’s no question about it, money is tight; however, creating a spending plan can help you decide if this month you can afford to go out for a nice meal or if you’re destined for ramen noodles. At first, creating your plan may seem daunting and not very fun—it’s the equivalent of sticking a mirror in your face and revealing some unpleasant truths.

If you find that your spending plan produces a surplus, congratulations! What are you going to do with that money? Put it away for a rainy day or pay down your current debt? However, if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of not having enough at the end of the month to cover your expenses, cutting some costs may make a difference.

With creative savings tips, you may still be able to afford some of the comforts of home and even put aside a little money for a rainy day.

  1. Cook at home—Unless you plan to eat every meal off the dollar menu at your local fast food restaurant, prepare meals at home and take the leftovers with you for lunch. Food from vending machines are often unhealthy choices and a huge cash drain.
  2. Make a grocery list—Go food shopping with a specific mission. Make a list and buy only what you need. Going to the grocery store without your list and on an empty stomach is sure to be a budget buster.
  3. Ride your bikeNot only will you save money, riding your bike is a great way to stay in shape and may help reduce your healthcare costs.
  4. Shop at resale shops and garage sales—Looking like a million bucks doesn’t have to break the bank. Consignment shops and estate sales are great places to score name brand clothing and household goods at a substantial savings.
  5. Look for free entertainment—Most likely your school has charged you an activity fee. That’s your free pass to entertainment around campus. Your campus activities board may also offer discount or free tickets to local events.
  6. Cut your cable bill—Do you really need to watch your favorite TV show the night it airs? Wait a week or so and stream it on your laptop or handheld device.
  7. Pay your bills on time—Paying late can be a costly mistake. Your lender may charge you a late fee even if your payment is just one day late. They may even raise your interest rate—costing you that low introductory rate.
  8. Buy a refillable water bottle and coffee mug—Invest in an insulated bottle. Be sure to fill it up and take it with you. You’ll save some dollars and you’ll stay hydrated. If coffee is your drink, brew it at home and take it with you. There are brands available that taste just like your favorite brew from the local coffee shop at a fraction of the cost.
  9. Sell your old stuff—Don’t become a hoarder like on TV. If you no longer need it, sell it. Online selling sites make it easy for you to eliminate the clutter and put a few dollars back in your pocket.
  10. Go to class—Most importantly, go to class.You are paying good money to go to college. Not going to class is a waste of money and if you borrow student loans, will be a costly mistake you’ll be paying back for years.