Money-Saving Tips from Students
The money call came in the fourth week of school when my freshman year roommate got a call from her dad saying that she spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars ever since school started. Trust me that was not a fun conversation to listen to especially since our beds were five feet apart and I literally had no option but too awkwardly listen to the conversation. Let’s just say, she learned how to budget really fast, maybe because her dad threatened to cut off her allowance but I guess we will never know for sure.
Before going up to college, my family and I talked about how much I should budget every week but we realized we wouldn’t really know until I spent a few weeks in college to determine how much money I would typically spend on a weekly basis. After two to three weeks in college, I was finally able to come up with an appropriate budget for my college lifestyle.
Many students have experienced the awkward conversation with our parents about needing more money. We’ve put together a list of ways to budget that we learned ourselves in the hopes that it will save you from making that call home. Budget on a weekly basis rather than a monthly basis. It is a lot simpler to keep track of spending money when only focusing on 7 days. Look at your bank account on a weekly basis to make sure you are following your budget.
The Student Money Tips
- Use your meal plan as much as possible. I would try to get creative with the meal plan and started making smoothie bowls and other fun alternative meals. Every year of college definitely varied a lot depending on my living situation but for most of college, I have luckily always had meal plans. As a student on a budget, it is definitely the most cost-efficient.
- Meal Prep- planning out meals ahead of time allows you to buy only what you need and to know exactly what you are planning on eating so you save both time and money.
- Utilize the school gym if possible- spending money on gym supplies and/or classes can add up and the school gym has so many great options and equipment.
- Don’t order in, food- Delivery fees can get expensive and if you are already spending money on eating out it is a great idea to pick up the food or eat there.
- Use free campus transportation- Campus busses allow you to get all over campus and the surrounding area. They even have routes to get to several grocery stores and shopping malls.
- Walk everywhere possible- Ubering gets expensive, so save money on walking around
- Use campus study and tutor resources rather than a tutor or online services- There are many free campus study and tutor services.
- Search for scholarships within your major/school- Depending on your major or the school you are in, they constantly are posting scholarship opportunities. These types of scholarships have a smaller pool of applicants so students have a better chance of getting awarded money.
- Rent used textbooks or buy from past students- students resell textbooks both online and through the library. Textbooks are very expensive and purchasing or renting using this method can save a lot of money each semester.
Throughout the week, students definitely will have to spend money on essential items like gas and cleaning products. Pro tip: when it comes to cleaning products and basic things like toothbrushes and toothpaste, the dollar store has the same brands as grocery stores but for less than half the price. When it came to buying items around the house, I always made sure I was finding the best prices which are key when you are on a budget.
Yes, we all know we are going to college to get an education but at the end of the day, there is a lot of going out involved too. On the weekends my friends always wanted to go out to eat or get drinks at the bar and that definitely can get very pricey. I always saved the majority of my weekly money for the weekends so I didn’t have to stress about going to my friends’ birthday brunches or out to the bars on a Friday night.
It is important for students to keep in mind that their budget amount is the maximum they should be spending but they definitely should not be spending the maximum every single week. Each week, if I did not hit my budget amount, I would keep that number in mind and that was the amount of money I allowed myself to spend on tailgate clothes, new accessories, and activities like getting my nails done. I only allowed myself to buy what I wanted if I had the money.
Living by these rules as a basic foundation while being a college student should allow every student to easily stay on budget!
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