Going to college is expensive. From tuition, to room and board, to food, to textbooks, to social activities, it all adds up quickly. Fortunately, there are many ways to save money in college if you’re willing to get creative. Here are some ways to save money in college and still have a fun experience.
Cut Back on Food Costs
The unlimited meal plan at college can be very expensive. Although eating food whenever you want sounds great, chances are good that you’re overpaying for the amount of food you actually consume. Eating out is also an expensive option, especially in college towns. Save money by choosing a basic meal plan and making your own meals. Learn how to cook by finding simple recipes online that only require a handful of ingredients. Get a crockpot for the dorm. It’s an easy way to cook and can do its job even when you’re away at class. A crockpot also makes a lot of food, so you’ll have leftovers and won’t have to cook every day. It’s a good idea to have some snacks on hand as well. Granola bars, fruit and nuts are helpful when the dining areas are closed.
Keep Dorm Decoration Costs Low
It’s your first time on your own and you want to make your dorm room your own. That’s understandable. However, spending a lot of money beautifying your college bedroom can put a hole in your pocket you don’t need. You spend the majority of your time eating, sleeping and studying in your dorm. It’s not a house. Invest in a few decorations to make your room feel comfortable, but don’t break your budget. Avoid buying expensive mattresses or furniture you don’t need.
Consider Your Textbook Buying Options
You may be tempted to buy all your textbooks from the school bookstore as soon as they are available, but it’s much better to wait until after the first few days of class. You’ll avoid big lines and you’ll find out if you need the latest edition for class. In many cases, you can get by with a cheaper, older version. If you do require the latest edition, you can buy a less-expensive version from a book-trading website or you can borrow the book from someone who has already taken the class. You can also rent textbooks through eCampus, or buy used textbooks on Amazon. Remember to keep your textbooks in good condition so you can resell them at the end of the semester. The library is also a great option. If you only need a book for a short period of time, check it out for free.
Cut Back on Party Time
College is full of amazing activities and opportunities to meet people, but many social events cost money. Fun adds up fast, especially drinking at bars. You don’t have to stay in all the time, but mix your nights on the town with inexpensive activities like gaming or getting together with friends for movie night. There are many free events on college campuses as well, so check out the bulletin boards in the union to see what’s on the week’s agenda, or ask your resident assistant. Make sure to check Groupon or LivingSocial to get discounts to activities in the area.
Ask for Student Discounts
Many local businesses offer discounts to students. The savings may not be a lot, but every cent counts, especially when your already spending so much on your education.