Save Money, Cut Costs while in College

Higher education is often one of the biggest costs you’ll face, even before living expenses are taken into account. With tuition rates steadily increasing, more and more students aren’t able to pay for their basic expenses and they’re forced to take on even more debt to cover their living costs. While it can certainly feel overwhelming to focus on budgeting and expenses while you’re juggling a full course load, there are a few simple steps you can take to cut college cost. At we understand how difficult it can be to approach college savings, so we’ve compiled several tips that can put you on the right track to lowering your expenses.

Consider All Your Housing Options

College housing is often a huge expense and students usually pay a premium for the convenience of living on-campus. Explore the area around your school and look for a less expensive house or apartment that’s available for rent. If you can find a large enough space and you know a group of people who you trust and get along with, you should definitely consider living with one or more roommates. Typically, the more roommates you have, the lower your rent payments will be.

As a bonus, living with other people can also help you save money on utilities, food costs and transportation. Try to find roommates who are also dedicated to choosing affordable living options, so you can keep one another accountable about saving money.

Reduce Transportation Costs

If you move into an off-campus house or apartment, you may not be able to walk to your classes each day. When walking isn’t an option, biking is typically the most affordable way to get to and from campus. Determine if there’s a safe and reasonable bike route you can use and if your school provides adequate bike racks or storage spaces. If so, purchasing a bicycle is a great investment that gives you a work out and saves you money on gas and transportation fees.

If biking isn’t a possibility, look into public transportation options through the city or school and ask about any student discounts. If you’re in a city or town where public transportation isn’t available, seek out other students who are willing to share rides to and from campus and split the gas costs evenly.

You can place an ad or a posting on campus or in the school publication to find students who live in the same area as you, have similar schedules and are willing to carpool. Remember that carpooling with just one other person on a regular basis can cut your gas costs in half. If you can find a group of carpoolers, you’ll be even better off.

Save on Meals

Another way to rack up college savings is by paying close attention to your meals. Many students invest in campus meal plans because they offer quick, easy and convenient access to food. If you’ve purchased a meal plan, take full advantage of it and don’t fall into the habit of adding to your food costs by also eating at off-campus restaurants.

While college meal plans are certainly convenient, they can also be pricey. You can cut college cost by quite a bit if you learn to cook affordable meals at home. If you don’t already know how to cook, look up cheap, healthy recipes online and block off time during each week that you can dedicate to cooking. Schedule trips to the grocery store and always use a shopping list to avoid buying things you don’t need. If you can prepare lunches and bring them with you to campus, you’ll save even more money.
Students often spend a lot of money when they purchase expensive coffee and other drinks that are sold on campus. You can rack up big college savings if you invest in an affordable coffee maker and brew your own drinks at home before you head to class.

Discount Shopping

Just like anyone else, college students need clothing, shoes, furniture and other items for everyday living. Instead of taking trips to the mall to buy brand new gear and supplies, you should get in the habit of visiting second-hand outlets, bargain shops and dollar stores.

Many second hand clothing stores will allow you to sell your old clothing items to them and receive money or credits that you can use to buy other pieces for your wardrobe. For furniture and other necessities, make good use of online resale outlets like Craigslist. You can often find items that are half price or less, and you can even discover pieces that people are giving away for free. Whether you’re visiting garage sales, outlets or online stores, the important thing to remember is that you can reap big savings if you avoid buying products that are brand new.

Keep Textbook Prices Low

Textbooks are absolutely necessary for college students. Unfortunately, they’re also extremely expensive. Even though you can’t avoid using textbooks, you can definitely save money on these purchases. Many campus bookstores have a used book section as well as a new book section. Once you know what books you need, purchase them early so you can have access to the best selection of used books. After your course is over, see if your bookstore has a buy-back program that you can use to get money back and put those funds toward your next round of textbooks.

You can also look outside of your campus bookstore for even more affordable options. Many online booksellers provide bigger discounts than campus stores and some online outlets will actually allow you to rent your textbooks for much lower prices. Start looking for textbooks well before your classes start so you can find the most affordable options for your situation.

Tackling college savings doesn’t have to be challenging or overwhelming. If you implement just a couple of these smart tips, you’ll be able to significantly decrease your college costs and graduate with a better financial picture.

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