Some college students have few financial obligations. They may take the bus, live at home, or have room and food expenses paid by a financial aid program. This is their vacation before life as a full-time worker. And with few expenses, this is the perfect time to focus on save money for the future.
Although most college students work part-time to generate extra income, saving money isn’t always at the top of their list. In all fairness, it is difficult to save money with part-time income, and the “starving student” saying isn’t just a cute catch phrase.
But even if you don’t have much disposable income, the money you have can go a long way. It’s all about prioritizing and budgeting. College shouldn’t be your pass to spend frivolously and ignore smart money habits. Saving makes financial sense – at every stage of life.
Here are five ways to jump start your financial history and save money in college.
- Buy textbooks online- There is nothing cheap about college textbooks, and you can spend $300 or more per semester on books alone. Buy used and you can save on books. Maybe you prefer textbooks without someone else’s notations and highlighter marks. But think of how much you can save with secondhand books. The information inside hasn’t changed, and if you shop websites such as Amazon.com, you may find used college textbooks at prices cheaper than your college bookstore.
- Open a bank account– Forget the jar or under mattress approach to savings. You’re an adult now, and if you’re serious about saving, you need a safe, secure location for your funds. Plus, with cash stashed in your bedroom or dorm room, there’s a greater temptation to spend. Compare banks and pick the financial institution that offers the best rates.
- Think free– Keeping up with your college friends is the fastest way to deplete your funds. College is the time to have fun and enjoy your youth, but not at the expense of your financial future. Have fun, but know how to reign in spending. Also, think of creative ways to entertain yourself. Check the local boards or newspapers for upcoming free events, such as festivals and concerts. Go to early movies to save money on tickets, and only dine out if you have a coupon or other discount.
- Limit credit card debt– Most people apply for their first credit card in college. This is how you can build your credit history, which prepares you for buying a house or car after graduation. Unfortunately, many college students make the mistake of accumulating too much debt. This can hinder any saving plans. If you spend the majority of your income paying back creditors, this can leave little cash for savings.
- Reduce transportation expenses– Your own car gives you the freedom to do whatever. But if you live on campus, and everything you need is within walking distance, why waste money unnecessarily? The money needed for fuel, auto insurance and maintenance can be put to better use. You have your entire adulthood to deal with car payments and registration fees. Keep things simple at this stage in your life, and you’ll have more cash for saving.