When you're a college student, there are a lot of things to juggle at the same time. One of the things that you have to juggle is your budget. It's important to save a buck wherever you can while you're working hard for that all-important college diploma. Here are a few ways that you can save money when you're in school:
Don't Pay For Subscription Services When You Can Watch or Listen for Free
There are only a few things that you really need in life. Those things are air, water, shelter and basic care. A subscription music service is not a need. There are free music services that let you play the genre of your choice if you're willing to put up with a few ads. There's also good old fashioned radio that's still very much in style.
Despite available free options, most people spend hundreds of dollars each month on subscription services. These subscriptions can really take a toll on your budget. Most of the time, these are things that you can live without.
Most college dorms have free internet today. They also usually have televisions in common areas. You can rent DVDs from your school library. That should give you plenty of entertainment options without having to shell out big bucks for a subscription television service. You should even carefully look at the apps on your phone to make sure that none of them have monthly fees.
Take Advantage of On-Campus Opportunities
When you're trying to save money as a student, you should evaluate your entertainment budget. Most colleges and universities have lots of things to do on campus. Often times, these activities are free or low-cost for students. There are special guest speakers, sporting events and musical performances almost any night of the week.
You might become a super fan of your school's softball team or rowing club. You can go to student musical performances. Most of the time, your fellow students are grateful for your support. You can easily save thousands of dollars over the course of a year if you choose on-campus activities instead of shelling out big bucks for concert or sports tickets. If you're still having trouble controlling your spending, try the cash envelope method.
Look At Your Meal Plan
You can save quite a few dollars by evaluating your meal plan. In some cases, you might be better off buying a smaller meal package and cooking a few meals at home. Planning to eat your largest meals in the cafeteria and then cooking your smaller meals at home can save you a bundle.
For example, you can make oatmeal in a dorm quite easily. Combined with a piece of fruit, this can be a low-cost breakfast. If you go to the cafeteria and swipe a meal pass for breakfast, the cost can be significantly more than the cost of eating on your own. When you do the math, if you eat a big lunch or dinner at the cafeteria, you can save on smaller meals during the day by eating at home. This is a great way to balance saving time with saving money.
Look For Ways to Share Expenses
The more people you share your expenses with, the less each of you have to pay. If you're single or even if you're not, a great way to save money is to share basic expenses like rent. This is just a matter of math. If you share expenses with others, your share of the total goes down. The same is true for utilities.
Don't Drink at All, or Drink at Home
Even if you're above the legal age to drink alcohol, if you're trying to save money as a student, alcohol is an easy thing to cut out of your budget. If you do the math, cutting back on drinking or cutting it out completely can really add up. You might think that it's fun to drink, but the truth is that it's really just an extra. You can still eat, sleep, pay your bills and go to class without drinking. In fact, chances are you'll do all of those things better if you cut out the alcohol.
If you must drink, don't buy your alcohol at a restaurant or bar where it's the most expensive. Instead, buy your alcohol from a store where prices are often strictly controlled. You also don't have to tip the bartender if you do your drinking at home.
Whatever you do, avoid drunk driving. In addition to the obvious dangers to you and others, a drunk driving conviction can set you back as much as $10,000. That's in addition to court appearances, jail and community service hours. These obligations can take you away from school as well as from your part time job.
Work a Part-Time Job While You Study
Working a part-time job is not only a great way to earn extra cash, but it's also a great way to save money. When you're working, you're not out doing other things. It's a great way to fill your time so that you're not tempted to go spend big bucks on entertainment. It also helps to look at your finances regularly to keep track of how you're doing.
If you love socializing and getting out, find a job that's social. You might enjoy working at the front desk of your dorm. Library assistants can have a lot of fun working their part-time campus jobs. Campus sports programs often need assistants, and you can even have fun working in the cafeteria. This is a great way to fill your time in a way that allows you to plug in and make friends on campus.