Best Ways to Save Money as a College Freshman
College Students

Best Ways to Save Money as a College Freshman

EPF August 28, 2018

It is that time of year again – the beginning of a new school year. But this time, something is different – your child is going to college. Congratulations! You have done a great job raising your kid and now they are ready to start a new milestone in their life.

And even though you are happy and excited about everything, there is some burden that you can’t hide – finances. It has been difficult lately and now it is not only you who needs to save money. It is your child too.

But how can they save money if they have been under your wing for their entire life? Well, you have to let them try. And they will do it, don’t you worry. They just need some time to learn the ropes.

And of course, we want to help them. That is why we will list the fourteen tips that will help your child save and even earn money while in college.

Create a budget

If you are going to save money, you need a sound strategy. Creating a budget is essential, but it is also important that you tailor your budget according to the money that is available to you.

In college, students spend money on different things like books and learning tools, groceries and toiletries, transportation, cell phone, rent, entertainment, and so on.

Depending on where you live and go to school, your expenses will vary, but you still have to know how much you spend on each of the things mentioned above.

That is why you need to figure out how much money you have available and then separate it into a few categories to cover all the necessary expenses. After that, you will see how much money you have left to spend on having fun or save it for any unexpected costs.

Choose the right bank

Once you go to college, you should change your financial perspective. This includes choosing new banking options. Your high-school bank may no longer be the best one for your needs, especially if you are moving away from your hometown.

However, there are a lot of banks trying to get students to open accounts with them. They know that freshmen are financially inexperienced and want to take advantage of this lack of experience.

That is why you need to do your research before opening a bank account. Shop around and check all your options if you really want to find the best bank for your college years.

Go mobile

If millennials are great at something, it is using their cell phones. Consequently, managing finances through smartphone apps is a logical step all millennials should take in order to save money.

It is important that college students know how to invest and save money, as well as pay off their debts. And with your smartphone, this has never been easier. With apps like Level, Saved Plus and Mint, you can track your money and spending, transfer money into a savings account and organize your spending into categories.

Be careful with your credit cards

When it comes to credit cards, you should be smart and careful. When you arrive on campus, you will get dozens of credit card offers from the people who will pretend they are your best friends, offer you pizza, a t-shirt or a bottle of juice. Don’t fall for these tricks – you are a freshman, not a toddler.

Opening your first credit card is important, so you should ask for explanations of the fine print, look for a card with no annual fee and with a reasonable interest rate.

Once you choose the best credit card for your needs, you can use it to establish a solid credit report and history, as well as make online purchases (as they are safer than debit cards for this purpose).

Finally, make sure you avoid these common credit card mistakes that students make:

  • overspending
  • spending just to earn rewards
  • making only the minimum payment
  • using cash advance and similar features

Be careful with student loans

Student loans can be very useful in certain cases, but they are just like credit cards – if you don’t know how to use them, you will make a financial mess.

As a college student, you should inform yourself about all scholarships and loans that are available to you. For instance, subsidized federal loans have relatively low interest rates, but private loans have very high rates.

On the other hand, if you are a good student, apply for a scholarship or grant. This is free money, which means you don’t have to pay it back. Do your research to find out if you are eligible for these opportunities and you could save yourself a lot of money in the long run.

Avoid pricy books

If you want to spend a lot of money on your books, go to your campus bookstore. This is the most expensive place to buy books, but is also the most obvious one, so most students go there to find all the books they need.

But you are not like other students. You are smart and you want to save money. That is why you will try one of the following options:

  • buy used books
  • share a book (and costs) with your classmate
  • download or borrow texts when possible
  • get a book from your university library

Also, when you are done using your books, you can sell them to earn some money.

Get new electronics at discount prices

Some companies know they can earn more money by offering discounts to college students before they go to campus. You should seize this opportunity and never buy a computer or tablet at a full price.

Knowing that students are likely to buy computers even before school starts, these companies offer back-to-school financing options or special student pricing without even asking for a student ID, just a college acceptance letter.

Take as many classes as you can

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should take twenty courses even if it was possible. Instead, you should consider taking a full course load each semester so that you graduate faster.

You need to get serious about your classes as soon as possible. The fewer semesters it takes you to graduate, the less money you will spend on your education. Yes, your tuition does mainly depend on the total number of classes you take, but what about additional costs like the room, board and other fees which are charged by semester?

For this reason, taking as many classes as you can is a great trick to avoid paying more than you should.

Take only necessary classes

In other words, be smart about class enrollment. Schedule a free appointment with your on-campus guidance counselor. Without some help from an expert, you may get lost in your course catalog and end up taking a class which is not necessary for your degree. This will make you stay in college for longer than you would like.

In addition, you can ask about testing out of classes. If you excel in some subject or you have had exceptional success in high school, lower-level general education classes are not for you. Instead, you can move on to more demanding courses and learn more specific skills for your future profession.

Use public transport

Driving a car during your college years is definitely not something that will help you save money. And neither is calling a taxi. Of course, using a taxi or uber when you really need to get somewhere fast is a great option, but not all the time.

Instead, walk all shorter distances. You can even run or jog to a local supermarket and this will count as your cardio miles. When you go somewhere far and are not in a hurry, you can always take a bus. Who knows, you might even make some friends while riding on it.

Get Amazon Prime for free

If you are a new student, you can sign up for Amazon Prime Student and your account will be free of charge for the first six months. Amazon gives college customers free two-day shipping, video streaming and student-exclusive promotions. After the trial period, you can continue your subscription for 50% off the cost for regular members.

Considering the fact that Amazon has over 560 million items, you will definitely be able to find affordable products, including used books. Anyone remember used books?

Save on your food and beverages

Many merchants and restaurants give discounts to college students when you show your student ID. You can get between 10% and 20% off at fast food joints, restaurants, bars, clothing stores, movie theaters, and so on. But make sure you carry your student ID with you all the time.

Moreover, if you are a coffee lover, you might as well try to save some money by making it. Instead of getting a cup of coffee at not-so-affordable Starbucks, you can brew your own coffee in your dorm or apartment.

Finally, if you are really eager to save money, you can even cook your own food. Yes, eating out is fancy, but it costs money. You can eat at a restaurant from time to time, but not every day. When you see how much money you can save by preparing your own meals and how good a cook you are, you will start preparing all your meals.

Save some money

Saving a little money each month may be one of the most important tips on this list. Start by saving small amounts and then gradually increase. This will create some good habits that you will be thankful for later in life.

The best way to start saving as a college freshman is to save all your coins and deposit each week and put it on your savings account. If you want to avoid the temptation to withdraw this money, choose an account with no ATM card.

Over time, this amount will increase and build up to a surprisingly large amount of money. If you save $5 per week during the first month and manage to increase this by $5 every month, you will find that putting money on the side is not only easy but very rewarding as well.

Find a flexible job

This is a no-brainer – if you actively earn money, you will be able to both spend and save more of it. And this means you won’t have to be too frugal when creating your budget and you will be able to treat yourself more often.

However, your job should never take you too much time and distract you from your primary goal – studying. This is why the best solution is to find a part-time job that will leave you with enough time for other activities.

And if you can find a job that allows you to do homework while at work, take it immediately. There are a number of on-campus jobs that allow you to sit and not be too active, such as checking student IDs at a gym or cafeteria, working at the university library, etc.

These jobs are perfect for students, especially for freshmen who still need to figure out the best way to manage their time and money. They will take a bit of your time, but you will still have plenty of it to do homework, work out, go out and rest.

Conclusion

Being away from home and your loved ones is not easy. Plus, if you are on a budget and have to be careful about how much you spend, the hardship can really get the best of you.

However, if you follow the tips we listed, you will find that saving money is not that difficult at all. Once you get the gist of it, you will make it a habit and do it automatically.

Start by introducing a few of these money-saving strategies every month so that you don’t burn out. Then, when you discover the pace that best fits your lifestyle, you will be able to save significant amounts of money in the long run.

Elite Personal Finance

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