It’s no secret that university is expensive. The list of expenses is quite long; application fees, tuition, room and board, books, meal plans, leisure, and then some. It’s impossible to go through university without cash flow and many experience times when it is difficult to make ends meet. Some students live off a pre-university savings account while others may opt for a part-time job, living paycheck to paycheck.
Whatever position you are in, you have every reason to utilize these money saving tactics to ensure that you aren’t spending what you don’t need to be spending! Who doesn’t like to keep a little extra cash in their pocket?
1.Bursaries. All the bursaries.
It should be pretty obvious by now that we are heavy advocates for bursaries. This is the most important and effective way of covering the major university expenses, and is something that should be on your radar long before you step on campus for the first time. This is not a matter of saving a couple hundred bucks… this is a matter of saving THOUSANDS. Do your due diligence by researching bursaries that you are qualified for, studying their requirements, writing a killer essay, proofing, proofing and re-proofing, and get the financial support that you deserve! Bursaries are highly competitive but can be a huge help. Be sure to apply to both large and small programs because they can add up. At the end of the day, whatever you are gifted is money that you won’t have to take from your own pocket.
2.Choose your credit card with care
Credit card debt can haunt you for years if you abuse what many treat as “free money.” Many students get their first credit card within a year of attending university. While it may be fairly easy to get approved for a small chunk of credit when you’re young and new to the credit scene, it’s unfortunately even easier to spend what you don’t have.
For starters, apply for a credit card that offers no interest for the first year. This doesn’t mean go buck wild and spend up to your limit because you won’t have to pay it off immediately. It’s quite simply meant to help you create a habit. If you cannot get approved for a no-interest credit card, search for one with a low interest rate. Remember… you should not spend what you can’t pay off. Do your best to pay off your entire balance each month, which will help you build up a good credit score.
3.Always ask for student discounts
Many places offer discounts if you can provide a student ID, so always carry it with you. From restaurants to movie theaters, ski resorts to museums… companies know how expensive being a student can be! Always ask… you’ll be surprised to find out how many places are willing to cut you some slack.
4.Buy used text books
Text books are outrageously expensive. $100, $200, $300 for a book that will be used for one semester? Seriously? Yes. Seriously. If you are friends with students that have taken the same classes that you are signed up for, find out if you can borrow their book to avoid buying brand new. Or, buy it off them for a fraction of the price. Students are more than willing to sell their books, even if they aren’t getting back nearly as much as they paid for them. If you don’t know anyone that has the books you need, try searching for used bookstores in town or online, or see if the library has a copy. Thousands of people are in the same boat as you are, so you are bound to find what you need. You may even find a website that allows you to rent your books, or digital versions.
If you are forced to buy new… sell it at the end of the semester!
5.Use your feet or public transportation
If you can manage without a car, opt for walking, biking and public transportation. You’ll save on campus parking passes and a whole lot of gas.
6.Don’t over-splurge on food
If you are on a campus meal plan, make sure you use it as much as you can. It can be very tempting to eat out with friends, order take-out for those late-night study sessions, or buy snacks and drinks from the campus convenience store… keep those habits to a minimum! You bought a meal plan for a reason, so use it. Set a monthly “food splurge” budget and stick to it. If you run out within the first week, so sad, too bad!
It may be frowned upon, but if you can get away with it… bring a Tupperware with you when you eat at the dining commons and make a to-go meal to keep in your dorm fridge for when the kitchen is closed.
7.Attend free college events
When you’re feeling stir-crazy and in need of an activity, find out what free events are going on on-campus. We all need a little bit of entertainment in our lives but that can often come with a price tag. See if there are any live bands, comedy shows, art openings or sporting events going on that don’t require cash if you are a student.
8.Start paying your student loans as soon as possible
This may seem to go against the “college savings grain” but it will help you in the long run. If you have enough extra cash to put toward your loans while you are still in school, do it. Interest is a cash cow, making a student loan pay-off long and difficult. Even if you can only afford to put $25-100/month toward the loan, you will be saving yourself a lot of money later.
There are so many ways to manage your finances while attending university, but these are some of the key ways to keep costs down and your bank account up!