Six Ways to Save Money While in College

If you thought you were done planning for college expenses once you figured out how to cover tuition and fees, think again. When you get to school, you’ll still have day-to-day living expenses, from food to fuel.

The good news? This is the perfect time to consider smart saving habits that may last beyond your college years. Plus, saving in college can help you get started paying off student loans. Here’s how you can start saving now.

Building a Budget

The best way to save money and minimize your spending is to set a budget and stick to it. Tracking all your expenses and income in the initial few weeks or month may help give you a solid baseline to see how far ahead or behind your budget you end up each month.

Monitor Your Expenses

Simply monitoring your expenses can change your whole perception about how you spend your money. Understanding your spending habits can help you better organize the “needs” and “wants” in your budget. It may also make you more aware of all the free or discounted opportunities around you.

Utilize Money-Saving Resources

From fitness centers and dining plans to free concerts and movies, taking advantage of anything that’s already included in your school fees can help you reduce spending.

Textbooks are a college expense that may give any student sticker shock; however, you might find that you’ll only need the book for a short time. If you decide to buy new or used copies, look into whether they can be sold back at the end of the semester or consider discounted digital, rental, or used copies. Another option is checking with your school or local library to see if you can borrow the books when you need them for class.

Plan Your Spending

It’s important to plan and consider any expenses you think you may have and include them in your budget in order to track your costs effectively.

If you bring your car to school, consider only using it if you have to, and include parking passes, gas money, and repairs in your budget. If you plan to travel back home, prepare in advance the expenses associated with the trip.

Avoid Impulse Spending

There’s no shame in wanting a nice spring break trip or a new computer, but they definitely don’t have to be impulse buys. Set aside some money each month into a savings account, and watch your money grow as you move toward your goal.

If you’re moving off campus to your own apartment, find a roommate — or four — to help keep costs down. You may be surprised by how quickly groceries, utilities, and basic supplies can add up, though. Following the basic rule of not spending more than you can afford — and hopefully saving a little each month — can help you keep your budget on track.

Consider a Part-time Job

If possible, check out part-time jobs on campus to help make extra money. Most jobs close to universities may offer flexible hours to help accommodate students without conflicting with school. Weekends are an especially good time to squeeze in some work hours while leaving plenty of time for fun. Watch your money grow by taking the top 10 to 20 percent of each paycheck and depositing it directly into your savings account.

So if you want to keep pizza money on hand without taking a bite out of your financial health, remember to budget your monthly spending, avoid excessive debt, and try to work a few odd hours each week. The rest is academic.