frugal living: tips for surviving on a college budget
Posted : August 14, 2007
Last Updated : August 19, 2014
Since you don't have a lot of cash flow in college, you need to learn how to be thrifty with your money. Here are some tips for surviving on a college budget.
Walk or ride your bike to classes. By doing this, you won't have to spend as much money on gas or car maintenance. You also won't have to shell out a bunch of money each semester for campus parking fees.
Get good grades. Having good grades can save you money on car insurance. Check with your insurance company to see what grades they require for the discount.
Look for free or cheap entertainment. Stop spending ridiculous amounts of money at your local movie theater. Many campuses host free movie nights throughout the school year. You could also subscribe to Amazon Student and receive unlimited instant streaming of thousands of movies and TV episodes (not eligible with free trial). Check out sites such as Groupon and DealChicken for deals on movies, food, travel, etc. Instead of going out to clubs every weekend where you have to spend money on cover charges and beverages, save your cash by attending art openings or free student concerts. Stay away from shopping malls when you are bored; you'll be too tempted to make purchases. Instead, keep yourself busy by going for a long walk, playing sports, having a picnic with your friends, etc.
Don't pay for a fitness club membership. Most campuses have fitness centers that are free to students. If your campus doesn't, buy some hand weights and take up running, biking, swimming, etc.
Use coupons. For every item that you purchase, check to see if you can use a coupon for it. This includes groceries, clothing, electronics, etc. If purchasing items online, you should first visit sites such as coupons.com or couponchief.com to check for online coupon codes. In addition to discounts, some sites, such as Ebates, offer cash back and will mail you a check based on your purchases. If your mom is a coupon clipper, have her send some in your next care package.
Get free Internet access. Many campuses offer free wireless or wired access. If your campus doesn't offer this free service, use the campus computer lab when you need access to the Internet.
Purchase a laundry rack. Using a laundry rack instead of a clothes dryer will cut your laundry costs in half. Plus, your clothes will last longer and look better.
Buy your textbooks online. Websites, such as Amazon and barnesandnoble.com, offer cheaper textbook prices than your local bookstores. In some cases, you may save more than 50% by purchasing books online. You can also save money by renting textbooks at sites such as textbooks.com and campusbookrentals.com. Added bonus: you bypass the whole standing in line thing.
Be smart about credit. If you use a credit card, make sure you have cash to pay off the balance every month as not to accrue interest. If you get into debt during college, those credit card woes will be with you long after graduation.
Get a free checking and savings account. Look around your community for banks that cater to students. When signing up for a checking/savings account, make sure there are no attached fees for ATM withdrawals, online banking, funds transfer, etc.
Don't shop for groceries when hungry. You'll end up spending way more than you originally intended. Make a list and stick to it!
Carpool. Going home for the weekend or for a holiday? Carpool with other students from your hometown. Gas doesn't seem that expensive when you split the cost.
Don't forget about financial aid. Remember to research scholarships and grants.
Your college years can be a financially rough time. With a little planning and a lot of willpower, you can survive on a college budget.