Back To School: College Saving Tips
In case you didn't know, I graduated college in 2012, and in all my years in college, I learned ways to save money. I am also wiser now and have additional tips that I wish I had known when I was in college. If you've just started as a freshman or will start in the future, I hope the tips below will help prepare you. Also, note that I only used grants to get me through college. No loans or help from parents besides the occasional home cooked meals.
COOK YOUR OWN MEALS
Well, that was a smooth transition. My first tip is to cook your own meals. When I wrote this post, I cooked a meal that cost me about $10 of ingredients. That would get me through three meals. Can you see the savings yet? I made three chicken breasts with red pepper, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and potato. I already had the potato at home, and I also made rice, which I already had. If I had eaten out, one meal would cost me $10 easily. So, to save money, try learning how to cook.
BUY USED BOOKS
When I was at university, there was a used bookstore that would open up only on the first month or so of classes so that students could buy them. I also bought from Amazon if I saw that the book was cheaper and if I had time to wait. Other websites available were Abe Books and Half.com. The only time I bought from the university bookstore was when one of my classes would require a book that had never been used in prior semesters. When all else failed, I would look at the syllabus and make copies of the pages I needed from the book, and then return the book. Not sure if that was ethical or not. Probably not, but I was a college student that needed to make ends meet. When I was in college, there was also an option to rent books.
INVEST IN A PRINTER
If you decide that you want to blindly follow my footsteps of photocopying, investing in your own printer is definitely a must. Also, it was much cheaper than paying for every print job at the library. Not to mention, it was convenient.
If you have friends who have the same class, try to carpool and share the parking fee. If you have a friend that have the same degree and generally the same time of classes, you could even share the cost of a parking pass and just alternate depending on who would be driving that day or that week. If you live close enough to the university, try walking. Your body would thank you for the exercise.
The reason you'd be needing to carpool was if you lived off-campus. I found it cheaper to live off-campus and the rooms were bigger. I was lucky to find a place that cost half of what they charged at the dorms. When searching for a room off-campus, just be wise and find a place that includes utilities with the rent and make sure you find people that you'd get along with.
GET A PART-TIME JOB
This was kind of an obvious way to earn more money. You couldn't save money you didn't already have, right? I would suggest finding one either at the university or somewhere close by. And for the love of God, choose a job that you actually enjoy, if at all possible. Or get creative and start a freelance business if you have a unique talent.
Back to needing food, clubs offer free food when they have meetings. Join clubs that you're interested in and bask in the yummy food they offer. As a bonus, you might even make new friends.
I didn't take advantage of this enough when I was in college. Anywhere you go, ask if they offer a student discount: i.e. amusement parks, zoos, theaters, etc. If all else fails, you could also clip coupons. There was no shame in that; I still do it.
LEARN TO BUDGET
I wish I had known this when I was in college. Of course, this might require that you enjoy playing with math and numbers, but if you already love those two, then budgeting would be a nice, necessary hobby. You'd never save money unless you know where it was going and how you could control the flow of it. Budgeting will help you be more conscious of your spending habits. Also, make yourself save even just $10 a month. It would eventually grow before you know it.
I hope these tips help you, and if I missed anything, please leave them in the comments below so that others can learn as well. Enjoy your classes!