Today’s personal finance tips are about saving money as a college going student.
The benefit of developing good money habits at a young age are manifold – the prime advantage being that teenagers can avoid taking out large student loans that take decades to payback. I recently wrote an article about different personal finance tips for teens (linked below) and as an offshoot of that post, today I share some money saving tips for students.
1. Save for college as early as possible
In some cultures, it is understood that parents will foot the bill for all educational efforts, and that offers a huge financial relief for students. However, other cultures encourage students to be financially independent of their parents when it’s time to attend college or university. Higher education is expensive. Period. Many students opt to take out student loans but many students manage to get their degrees without a single borrowed cent. How do they manage that? Through a combination of their savings, grants, scholarships and part-time jobs. So start saving up now to protect your future self from the burden of student loans.
2. Get others to pay your tuition fees
This sounds a bit negatively self-serving, but the fact is, there are plenty of people who will willingly pay for your college degrees if you deserve it. Apply for every grant and scholarship available in your country, be it from your college board or an NGO or even your employer.
Let’s not forget that some generous celebrities also offer to cover education expenses for fans. Nicki Minaj recently pledged to pay the tuition fees of numerous fans, who simply requested her to do so over Twitter! She pledged over $30,000 in one night.
3. Save on books without compromising your education
College-level textbooks can be surprisingly expense, depending on where you study. That said, there are a few ways you can lower this expense. Once you get your book list, head over to the college or local library to see if you can borrow the book on a renewed basis for the duration of the semester. Alternatively, request a senior to lend or give you their textbooks if they’re done with it. Sure, second hand books may not look as clean as new ones, but that’s hardly an obstacle.
Yet another option is to look for the textbook online – you may find a previous edition at a much lower price. In some cases, buying older textbook editions does not present an academic disadvantage because the changes in every new version of the book are incremental, such as a few new questions at the end of the chapter, or a couple of extra paragraphs explaining a new industry trend, and these differences can be easily addressed.
4. Avail student discounts whenever possible
Retailers realize that most students are financially troubled and therefore offer various discounts to customers who can prove they are currently enrolled as college students. In most cases, your student ID will get you a few dollars skimmed off your bill, or you may have to provide a valid email address that ends in “.edu” to prove you’re a student for an online purchase. Here is a list of services that often offer student discounts so be sure to ask whether you’re eligible for the extra savings:
- Clothing outlets,
- Grocery stores,
- Museums and public parks,
- Cinemas and other types of theatres,
- Tourist spots,
- Sporting events like football or baseball matches,
- Restaurants and hotels,
- Public libraries,
- Public transport services like busses, trains and some airlines,
- Magazine subscriptions, both online and offline.
There are a few websites that quickly help you avail student discounts across different services, so check those out if you live in the selected countries.
5. Cut your living expenses
This tip can be used at every stage of life, and there’s no reason students can’t benefit from it too. Housing costs can be reduced by sharing apartments with fellow students, rather than living alone on campus or renting an apartment by yourself. When it’s time for grocery shopping, look for coupons and don’t hesitate to visit low-income stores or online stores (while using price comparison tools) to get the lowest possible price for your monthly grocery bill. Another way to cut your grocery bill is to buy in bulk and cook your own food as often as you can. Eating out is fun, but the dollars add up pretty quickly.
Lastly, when it comes to buying clothes, avoid the temptation of branded items because the price premium rarely correspond to the better quality. It is certainly possible to find great bargains at non-branded stores, as well as thrift shops.
You’ll thank yourself for going through the trouble of being a frugal student when you graduate from college without any student debt to worry about. If you want to learn about a few personal finance tips you can make use of as a teenager, check out my article at Mozo.com.au.
Best wishes for the future and start saving now.