10 Savings Tips for College Students
College students need all the help they need when it comes to saving money. Who better to advise them than the pros at online tax preparation software company TaxSlayer.com?
Here are the company’s top 10 tips:
1. Go on a cash diet.
Overspending is just like overeating. How this budget diet works: Take out an allotted amount of money for the week or month and only spend what’s been taken out. For example if the “entertainment” budget is $100per month, then pull out $100 at the beginning of the month. Spend the cash wisely over the course of the month and once it’s spent, you are done. If you blow it all in one day, you can’t go back to the ATM to get more cash. The cash diet keeps you honest with your spending – you know exactly how much you have and there is no fighting math.
- Try the 52-week money challenge.
Take the money you save from the cash diet and open a savings account. How it works: There are 52 weeks per year. Start off week one by saving $1; then week two you save $2; week three you save $3, etc. When reaching the last week of the year, week 52, you’d deposit $52. Your savings would add up to $1,378.
- Pay interest off, while in college.
Start paying off interest on student loans, while in college. Even as little as one dollar per paycheck will lower interest payments in the long run. Less than $100/month will save you thousands.
- Be a social deal seeker.
One of the best things about being in college is that most of your friends are likely in the same financial boat, cash-strapped. Keep your activities fun, but your pockets in check by planning fun, low-cost activities such as picnics, pickup games and free outdoor festivals. Also look for deals on daily deal sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and Gilt. Most of the activities offer savings of 30 to 70 percent.
- Inspire, advise and reap the rewards.
If you’re looking for a way to cut college costs and hone in on your leadership skills becoming a Resident Advisor could be a great option. As an RA, you act as an advisor to students living in your dorm, help build a sense of community, develop programs and activities and enforce residence policies. Many RA’s receive free room and board as part of their compensation, saving thousands in housing costs.
- Take workouts outdoors.
A gym membership can cost anywhere from $10-$100 dollars per month. Rather than spending money for a gym membership, work out outdoors. Bike riding to class, jogging in the evening at a park or taking a brisk walk around campus can help burn off late night meals without breaking the bank. Most universities also have a gym and exercise classes, which is normally free for enrolled students.
- Stream it online.
Rather than shelling out upwards of $80 a month for cable, opt for an online video streaming service giving you access to T.V. shows, movies, documentaries and exclusive programming for about $10 a month. If you’re looking to save even more, take advantage of college amenities, borrowing movies and T.V. shows from the library. A library card is free and so is renting movies. Another alternative is Redbox, you can rent a movie for 24-hours for only $1.29!
- Rent that book!
If your book is not available at the library, then you have the option of renting one. Based on your class needs, you can rent a book for an entire semester or just for the last two weeks of finals. Renting a textbook ranges from $50-$200 cutting book costs in half, and saving hundreds of dollars.
- Getting a caffeine buzz without sticker shock.
Splurge on a good coffee maker. Getting your daily caffeine fix with designer coffee can be detrimental to your pockets. Brewing coffee at home before class saves you time not waiting in line at the campus coffee shop and about $800 a year. If grabbing a latte is a must, opt for the smaller size and go for the house regular and enjoy free refills. If tea is your drink of choice, BYOB – hot water is always free.
- Cook with Friends.
If you live off campus or in a dorm with a kitchen, partner with your friends to make dinner. Adding themes to each night makes dinner fun and exciting. From Taco Tuesdays to Wok Pot Wednesdays at least two to three nights a week dinner isn’t coming completely out of your pocket. If there are leftovers, enjoy them for lunch.”
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t offer an eleventh tip that every college student should follow: join a credit union.
Credit unions are great for college students since they are no-for-profit cooperatives that offer lower fees, great deals on loans and personalized service.
Far too many financial institutions are just out to make a buck on students – and often aren’t very scrupulous in the ways they do it. Credit unions, on the other hand, are all about providing honest value.
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