It's a scary reality to not have a lot of money post-college. Trust me. It's all fun and party games on the weekends until you graduate and suddenly you need to pay for rent. Money is never going to just drop in to your lap unless you catch a multi-millionaire falling from his or her mansion window. Until then you will be stuck counting your dollars until you yourself become a multi-millionaire.
Speaking as someone who has never had a particularly large amount of money saved, I have learned a few tips and tricks for saving money in college that have so far helped me tremendously. Obviously the first thing you need to understand is that money does not grow on trees. You earn it by working, and you save it by not spending. As simple as these concepts are, I cannot stress how often I looked at my bank account and wondered why I wasn't swimming in Benjamins. College is an easy time to lose track of your finances. Your housing and meal plans keep you from the reality of having to pay rent and buy groceries. As soon as that gravy train leaves the station, you will be looking at your local food store in a whole new light. Coupons will become your go-to, no longer just a fun concept for a television competition. So start saving early. Meaning, start saving in college. Your older self will not only thank you, but possibly travel back in time and reward you. If time travel becomes a thing. I'm a writer, not a fortune teller.
Free Checking & Savings Account
Open them up. Having good credit established early will basically allow you to rent a home and buy a car someday. Almost anything good in this life requires you to have good credit. Also, having a savings account with a high interest will be super helpful when you start buying stuff in the future. You'll thank yourself for turning your Sweet 16 cash into even more cash by graduation.
Rent Textbooks Or Buy Cheap Online
Never buy textbooks. Always rent. Unless you absolutely LOVED the textbook from that one life changing class, you will never crack it open after the semester ends. Do yourself a favor and borrow or rent a copy. If you have textbooks that you bought, sell them. Do it quickly, because college professors often assign newer editions of the same textbooks, rendering your copy useless.
Limit How Much You Eat Out
You don't need to eat out in college. You have a meal plan. If you must, then limit the amount of times you do so to only a few times a month. Your wallet will thank you for not buying a bunch of pasta when you had instant ramen under your bed.
Ubers are great, but you will not that kind of cash lying around. Take public transportation as much as possible. Being a student gets you awesome bus discounts so take advantage of it while you can. If you absolutely must use an Uber, find people to split rides with you, or at least use Uberpool.
Movies, museums and electronic stores usually give great discounts for students. Try to go on days you know you will be paying less money. This way you can still experience the fun but with less of a dent in your bank account.
Gym memberships are way too expensive. Use your school gym as long as you can. After you graduate, run outside or join a team sport. No need to pay money to sweat in a special room.
College Events For Entertainment
Your college will have hundreds of guest speakers, lectures, free screenings, comedy shows and student performances. Instead of paying for concert tickets where you sit in the back and can't see anything, why not check out your school's production of Grease? Most of the time, admission is free for students.
College Events For Free Food
As a solution or eating out a lot, you can go to different campus events for free food. That way you get a variety of meals and socialize at the same time. Two bids, one stone. YOU ARE WELCOME.
If you need to buy things like food or toilet paper — Costco is your friend. Cereal in bulk? Yes, please! Your folks might have a membership, and if you need to get one yourself, they are pretty easy to apply for (and well worth the yearly membership price).
Your on-campus library will have a great selection of books and DVDs. Enough to stop you form having to run to Redbox every time you're feeling bored. You might not think it's significant, but entertainment is what most of my money went to in college.
Testing Out Of Classes
Go over your high school classes with a college professional to see if you can test out of certain required classes. There is no need for you to be paying for something you already learned. Take an elective in something you find interesting instead!
This is a pretty big one. Stop buying weak, overpriced drinks at local bars. There is no need to waste your money. Instead, you should be getting alcohol from the store and chilling at home. My friends and I saved so much money in college by never drinking drinks at bars.
Keep Your Receipts
Keep. All. Of. Your. Receipts. Trust me on this one. It will make it so much easier to return things you bought on a whim. Plus, it will help you budget better once you see exactly where all of your money is going.
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