New Semester Prep: How to Save Money on Campus


If you’re attending college, you don’t need anyone to tell you that it’s very expensive. No matter if your parents are paying your tuition, you took out loans or you have at a part-time job, you want to make sure that your funds are working as hard as possible in your favor. Consider these tips to help you save money and set yourself up for a more financially secure future.

Actually set a budget

Everyone thinks that they stick to a budget, but in reality, most people just go with the flow based on their bank account balance. It’s not enough to simply have an idea of how much you could or should spend; you have to be deliberate about your spending.

Catherine Campo with CNBC recommends creating your budget with your parents. This isn’t because you aren’t old enough to set your own spending goals, but rather because your parents’ knowledge could identify expenses you might forget otherwise, like car insurance fees or saving for an emergency fund.

Buy used

If you’re an avid reader, you might prefer to read new books because you’re sure you have the highest quality version with no wear and tear. However, when it comes to college, used textbooks are the way to go. The team at Best Value Schools recommends buying used books as their top tip for saving money in college. If your school doesn’t have a good inventory of used books in its bookstore, check out sites like Half.com, Ebay and Amazon. When you’re taking a course that’s an elective or general education, where you don’t think you’ll want to keep the textbook after you pass the class, consider checking out sites like Chegg and Barnes & Noble that offer textbook rentals instead of purchases.

Pay on time

When you’re immersed in campus life, it can be difficult to keep track of due dates for projects and papers, let alone bills. Similar to how your grade suffers when you forget assignments, marks against your credit score hurt your financial future if you pay your bills after their due dates. Brian O’Connell, a former Wall Street trader and best-selling author, writes that paying bills late can get you slapped with high fees, and if that high fee pushes your credit card balance over your limit, it will then trigger another fee. Besides costing you more money, being habitually late with any bill payments will be recorded by credit bureaus and can harm your chances of getting a loan later in life.

Use your meal plan

If you live on or near campus and have signed up for a meal plan, make sure that you use it as much as possible. Robert Farrington of The College Investor acknowledges that sometimes a meal plan isn’t the best deal in the long run, but if you have one, you need to make sure you’re getting what you paid for instead of paying for food elsewhere. Yes, that can mean waking up and eating breakfast before class, but it is the most important meal of the day, after all. Some meal plans include snacks or money to spend out of the designated dining halls, so don’t forget to keep track of that and use all of it before you consider shelling out money for off-campus meals.

Saving money in college might sound like an unwinnable battle, but it’s not as hard as you think. Financial preparation before you hit campus is a big step in the right direction.

 

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