Going to college is an exciting, yet nerve wrecking, time in your life. You will be introduced to foreign situations and are faced with potential challenges such as living by yourself, meeting new people, and learning new things. This article is meant to help create one less worry, money issues. While some expenses are inevitable, there are always ways to lower those costs.
Create a budget
Since you’re new to the college lifestyle, it might take a month or two in order to understand a realistic budget. Being organized and having a monthly budget can be one of the best money saving tools out there for a college student. It’s easy to impulse buy and make unnecessary purchases, but you must resist these purchases, and be aware of what goes in and out of your account, keeping monthly records of spending. Expense such as groceries, rent, utilities, transportation, and activity fees should all be recorded. Once a budget is allocated to each expense, try and follow your budget allocation as closely as possible. If you happen to over pace the budget in one expense, try and level it out by slowing the pace of another expense.
Keep the car at home
Unless you absolutely need a car in order to get to class, leave it at home. Gas, parking, tickets, and theft are all expenses that can be avoided without a car. Your classes are more than likely walking distance, and most universities provide free and convenient transportation.
Rent/ buy used textbooks
Textbooks are expensive. Unfortunately, they’re a necessary expense that cannot be circumvented. However, you can lighten the blow by renting textbooks. Renting books is a great way to get the exact book you’re looking for at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, most textbook rental companies cater to your learning needs, and allow you to highlight and mark up the textbook.
If renting is not offered, the next best alternative is buying used books. Unless, a textbook is unreadable, there should be no reason to buy brand new textbooks. Used textbooks are sometimes 40 -50% cheaper than brand new books, and if you’re lucky, it might already have important information highlighted.
Sell textbooks once course is done
If you didn’t rent your textbooks, be sure to sell back your books at the end of the semester. Unless you are certain that you will need this textbook in the future, you will most likely never open it again once the course is over. This is a great way to put some extra money back into your pocket.
Choose the right meal plan
Meal plans vary depending on the university – food quality, how picky of an eater you are, how often you eat, how much you eat, and location of the cafeteria should all be factors to consider. Although most meal plans are great deals for what you’re getting, be sure to do your research before signing up.
Some universities offer off-campus meal plans as well. These usually include restaurants that have agreed to team up with the university. If you live closer to these vendors, or really enjoy their food, this should be another option to consider when determining a plan.