If you’ve opted to attend an in-state school or get your core courses knocked out at a community college, you’re well on your way to cutting the cost of your education. Once the semester begins, however, expenses can really add up, and it’s easy to stray from a frugal mindset. Thankfully, there are plenty of money-saving opportunities at your disposal and taking advantage of all of them is in your best short- and long-term interest. To learn how to cut your costs after you crack open that first textbook, read on.
1. Resell Textbooks
If you bought your textbooks online from eBay or Amazon to save money, congrats. Once the semester is done, or even a few days before, be sure to list those textbooks for sale to get some of your money back. Check out eBay and Amazon for details on pricing, and if you don’t like what you see check a local storefront in your area where you may be able to get a better deal. Competition is high, so the sooner you get your textbooks listed the better off you’re going to be.
2. Make Full Use of Your Student ID Card
Your student ID card is good for free sporting events, lectures, and even concerts and discounts at local eateries and shops – so be sure to make full use of it. If you take in a hockey game for free one Friday night instead of bar-hopping with your friends, you could save yourself $50 or more. Anytime you reach for your wallet off-campus, be sure to ask if there’s a student discount for the purchase you’re about to make. Often, there is.
3. Get a Job
Most students don’t consider working during school because of the time commitment required for studies. If you manage your schedule well, though, you can certainly find the room to take on a part-time job. For all those hours you’re working, you won’t be out spending money. Check in with your campus employment office or do a targeted search on a career website like SimplyHired. Search using the keyword “part-time,” and include your location. There should be plenty of positions available either on or near campus, and you might be able to walk to work.
4. Get Stuff for Free
Did you know that there are plenty of computer software titles available for free download at the website CNET? You also don’t need to pay for antivirus software because the programs Avast and AVG give you all the protection you need. If you’re looking for a couch to round out your dorm room, skip the local furniture outlet and check out Freecycle or Craigslist. You can get countless items for free – you just have to know where to look.
5. Find Low-Cost Entertainment
Instead of heading to the movie theater where you might drop $30 or more, invite some friends over for Trivial Pursuit, Cranium, or another classic board game like Pictionary. You can find them at a local retailer like Target for about $15, or at thrift stores for just $1 or $2 – just make sure all the game cards and pieces are still in the box. Also, think about joining an intramural sports league where your out-of-pocket costs are low and you can improve your health at the same time.
6. Cut Up the University Debit Card
If you don’t have a university debit card, don’t sign up for one. If you do, cut it up. The pros are far outweighed by the cons. It typically comes with hefty withdrawal and transfer fees. Also, since these cards are often linked to your financial aid, it can be far too easy to blow that money on unimportant purchases. Avoid temptation entirely and rely on cash for your time in school.
College is typically a four-year stretch, and the money decisions you make during that time go a long way toward shaping your finances post-graduation. If you enter the workforce with a boatload of student loan debt, it becomes that much harder to start setting aside for other important financial considerations, like retirement savings, a down payment for a home, and an emergency fund. Do your best to shave costs during school and you’re going to thank yourself once that first paycheck comes in.
What are your plans for saving money during school?
Tom Bailey writes about money saving strategies, including ways to cut college expenses and survive as a student.