Dear College Students: 5 Tips for Saving Money in College

college savingsDear College Students, welcome and welcome back. Although I have (very sadly) outgrown my college days, I still have a few tips to offer to stay on budget while balancing schoolwork, social life, jobs, finances, and more. I did graduated with my graduate degree less than a year ago, so hopefully my advice isn’t woefully out of date… just yet.

1. College discounts: You know that little ID card you need to take everywhere with you, yeah, take off-campus as well to score some discounts off food, retail, entertainment, and more. Also, if you’re not sure if the company offers a college discount, it doesn’t hurt to ask. There’s a big list of college discounts on this blog here and don’t forget to ask your own college if they know of any college students just for your own particular school.

2. Participate in Student Activities: As an undergrad student, you pay a student activity fee that brings comedians, bands, jugglers, and more onto campus as well as other fun events without traveling very far: all for free. Please take advantage of these, you will definitely miss the free and convenient entertainment when you graduate. Most office of student activities are social, so follow them on Facebook, Twitter and more to find these free events on campus or read some event posters in the hallways while waiting for a friend.

3. Get involved: In the next few weeks, you may notice a work study fair, a student activities fair, an intramural info session, etc., whatever your interest is, get involved (and get free stuff at the fairs). Not only will you make new friends, but if you choose wisely you will most likely get a lot of cool stuff from your new found interest. (Note: I was actively involved throughout my four years in college and when I graduated I had over FIFTY free t-shirts from various events and organizations. FIFTY.)

4. Spend smartly with textbook purchase: Please don’t wait until after your classes begin to purchase your textbook, especially if there is limited supply at the bookstore. If you put off the textbook purchase too long, you may be stuck buying a brand spanking new book instead of getting an used or rental book for much less. Sometimes, it can be a strategy to share a textbook with a friend or wait until you’ll actually use the textbook, but often times you can return your textbook (ask your bookstore about their policy) within the first few days for a full refund so if you don’t need it, you can return it. Also, sometimes your campus library may have a copy or two of the textbook that you can borrow at the library, so check there if you have a funny feeling you won’t need your text all that much. With even more planning, buy online to save even more. It may take a week or two to arrive, but you can save big bucks by buying (or renting) a book online. For those procrastinators, think about Amazon Prime (referral link) because you can score free two-day shipping so your textbook can arrive to campus quickly. There’s even a free prime trial for students, so don’t pay for your two-day textbook shipping this semester!

5. Going out? Plan ahead: If you do decide to go off campus, figure out your plan ahead of time. If you are going out for drinks, recommend a bar with $1 drafts or a restaurant that’s having a $2 taco night. By picking the right restaurant for your budget, it can save you a lot of money. Take advantage of free museum nights and just hanging out at Boston Common; you don’t need a lot of money to have fun. Also, when are going out, put aside how much money (cash) you’d like to spend that night in your pocket. If you don’t have the money in your pocket, you won’t spend it– or at least you’ll think twice when you are reaching for your debit card. Plan ahead and pay a little less for having a lot of fun.

Hope you have a great year! Do you agree with my advice– what did I miss?!

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