College is like a money funnel. You put money in and you get…student loans out? Yeah, that’s more than a bit depressing. If you’re like the majority of students who struggle to make ends meet, you’re going to want to be frugal as much as you can. Of course, you don’t want to compromise your college experience by being super cheap, but there’s definitely a line between frugal and cheap! Here are some tips to help save money in college!
Avoid a meal plan at all cost
Unless you eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week in the dining hall a full meal plan is a waste of money. A lot of colleges–like mine–force freshmen to get the full meal plan. $5,500 a year towards wasted meals! I tried everything to get out of it but nope, still forced into it. As soon as I could I opted out of it! I only lived on campus my first year, and once I moved into an apartment I was fully capable of making my own meals. Of course, having a few meals a week might be the best choice for you if you live on campus in a dorm with limited cooking equipment. But definitely, consider opting out of the full meal plan asap!
Keep a spare change jar
I put the tips I make working in my tip jar every night. This is going towards my Puerto Rico spring break trip. It’s not much, but every little bit helps! Coins count too! This spare change can go to nice treats for yourself, like coffee. Definitely for coffee!
Make an actual budget. Like, actually.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “That’s it. I’m making a budget today” and then completely don’t. Believe me, it can change your life. Since writing things out does nothing to help me, I like to use personal finance apps. My favorite right now is Mint, which is a free app for iOS which imports data from your bank accounts to monitor spending. My favorite part of this app is it gives you charts showing what you spend most of your money on. Sometimes this can be surprising, and the wake up call you need to cut impulsive spending.
Stop eating out
I love eating out. I love pizza. Like, pizza is my favorite thing in the world ever. But pizza can be expensive (delivery at least once a week, I need to get it under control) so sometimes it’s just not an option. I love eating at the local restaurants around town, but oftentimes I opt to eat in. Try cutting down eating out to once or twice a week. It’s such a money saver!
Look for student discounts
It seems like I always forget to ask about student discounts and regret it after! A lot of times college towns offer discounts at local retailers and restaurants for college students. A lot of well known brands offer college discounts as well! It never hurts to ask!
Going out can be fun sometimes, but it can also be pretty pricey! It’s hard to keep track of your spending when you’re having so much fun. And why go out when staying in is the best? I love staying in, chilling on the couch in comfy clothes and watching some Greys Anatomy. Call some friends over and make an event out of it!
I hope this gave you some ideas for making college a little less expensive! There’s a lot of ways to save money as long as you’re willing to make a few sacrifices for the goodness of your wallet.
How do you save money in college?