Whether you are starting college as a single eighteen-year-old or you are older, working, and raising a family, there’s a set of basic financial strategies that can help you lower your expenses and save money while you’re in school. Analyzing your spending habits (as you just did) is the first step. Next, you can try the following:
- Create a detailed budget: Budgets will enable you to treat yourself while avoiding overspending. For example, you might allot $50 a month for going out with friends. If you’ve already spent $50, you should find alternative recreational activities for the rest of the month so you don’t have to borrow money that you set aside for other expenses.
- Cut down on meal costs: Looking for deals and using coupons at grocery stores will save more money than eating out. Students living in dorms may not have a lot of space and supplies for cooking, but they may still have room for a refrigerator and coffeemaker to avoid overspending on snacks and trips to Starbuck’s.
- Save on transportation: Cut down on the cost of gas (or get rid of your car altogether) by walking to class, riding a bike, or using public transportation. Check to see whether your college offers free or reduced-price student bus/train passes.
- Look for discounts and used items: As long as a textbook isn’t outdated, you can often purchase used or discounted copies online or from other students. Need to furnish a dorm room or off-campus apartment? You’ll save a lot money by borrowing household goods from friends and family or by purchasing them from secondhand stores.
- Apply for scholarships and minimize loans: To repeat, scholarships don’t have to be repaid, and they don’t rack up interest. Do your best to apply for everything and anything that you qualify for, scholarships-wise. Winning a scholarship can have a big impact on your budget and financial health.