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8 Money Saving Tips for New College Students

If you’ve never lived on your own, college can be a daunting endeavor. For many, the lack of structure or rules spells freedom. For others, it can be quite destabilizing. Regardless of how ready you feel to go off to college, there’s one thing you’ve probably considered — “Will I always be broke? Can I afford to have fun with my friends?”

There’s good news. Just because you don’t know your next step doesn’t mean that the step isn’t there. Plenty of people figure out ways to work, save money and still have a little fun while earning a degree! Here are a few of our favorite money-saving tips:

Always Buy Used Textbooks

The academic book market is dogged by inflated prices for textbooks. If your campus bookstore doesn’t sell used books, search for off-campus bookstores nearby. Chances are, you can find what you need there. Buying used books from eBay or Amazon is also a popular option.

Find Student Incentives for Major Purchases

If you need to buy a laptop, special software or any other expensive tech, do your research. Many companies offer special student pricing. If you can’t get a student discount, consider going with a different brand. You could also buy a gently used laptop from eBay. This is a great option for getting a new-to-you MacBook on a budget.

Don’t Leave Free Money on the Table

If you haven’t applied for any scholarships, you’ve basically said “No” to some free money. Sure, the forms aren’t fun to fill out, but they could mean the difference between needing to take a job in the dining hall scrubbing pans vs. only working a few hours in the tutoring lab!

Determine the Most Cost-Effective Housing

On-campus or off-campus? Which is cheaper? Well, it depends. A few factors to consider in choosing student housing include accessibility, price, location and surrounding amenities. Everything carries its own set of implied costs.

Press the Pause Button

If you just received a living stipend, student loan reimbursement or scholarship, you may be tempted to go out and treat yourself. One way to press the pause button on unnecessary purchases would be to stay out of the superstores and malls. Another tip would be to put an item in your online shopping cart and leave it there for a week. If you really need something, you should try and get it. Impulse buys are those things that neither matter nor add much value.

Budget Well and Track Your Spending

Budgeting works in a twofold manner— one, you know how much money is coming in and how much is going out. This also allows you to know when certain bills are going to hit your account. You can also avoid overdrafting your account by keeping a detailed budget and spending plan.

Eat Well, but Eat Cheap

Regardless of how you grew up—whether you ate dinner at home 7 nights a week or went out for every meal — that time has since passed. You’re now responsible for feeding yourself and being responsible with your money. There’s plenty of opportunities to save money by shopping around, clipping coupons, doing online research, and of course, avoiding restaurants. If you plan your meals around deals and have the ability to store some food in your dorm or apartment, you can save a lot of money and spend less than you would on a meal plan. It just takes effort.

There Is No Such Thing as Easy Debt

It’s easy to get a credit card. It’s hard to pay a credit card off. Proceed with extreme caution when considering whether to open a credit account. A credit card is not an emergency fund. This is the most common argument as to why people get credit cards— just for emergencies. Unfortunately, it’s not hard to justify pizzas for a late-night study session as an “emergency purchase.”

If you’ve already bitten off more than you can chew with your credit cards, there is help available. At CreditGUARD, we specialize in helping people like you get back on track financially and move toward a better financial future. Call CreditGUARD Today to learn more about how our debt management program can help you!