• Lisa Ericson

How can you save money as a college student?

Guest Post by Helen Cohen

As college students, we face the challenge of saving money every day. We have all collected quarters or walked the extra mile to the only dining hall still open to avoid spending money on food at a restaurant. Besides just great-tasting food, there is a limitless pit of activities and other things that we must pour our funds in to. However, there are many simple, easy changes you can make to your daily life to stop adding to your debt and start saving money.

One of the biggest challenges we face is collecting the money necessary to go out on social excursions. Whether this is going to the bar or out to dinner, these nights out can get extremely costly. In terms of going out to dinner, the food tends not to be the main motivation but instead, it is about spending time with friends and conversing. Due to the usually ulterior motive behind dinner plans, you can easily get by with ordering either a non-alcoholic drink, instead of an alcoholic one, or an appetizer, instead of a big meal. To curve your hunger, eat something before that you already have on hand or that is included in your meal plan. Your friends most likely will not even notice, so no need to worry about any judgment. In terms of going out at night, whether it be a club or a bar, preparation is key. It becomes very easy to inadvertently spend up to $100 in one night, something nobody is proud of doing. Similar to going out to dinner, making drinks at your place of living prior to going out for the night is often much less expensive. In order to avoid buying drinks once you are at a bar, keep a club soda on hand so you don’t get pressured into buying another drink and you trick your mind by keeping your thirst quenched.

Another way you can save money is through your clothes shopping habits. Thrifting is a college student’s best friend. Though this may be more time consuming than your typical shopping experience, the digging around is very worth it as there are some great finds when a little effort is put in. Thrifting is particularly good for occasion-specific clothing. Though some finds may be slightly antiquated, there is usually a plethora of blazers and slacks available in thrift stores. With some creativity and accessorizing, these pieces can be made very stylish and professional. On the other hand, thrift stores also have many comfortable options such as sweatpants and sweatshirts. Thankfully, this is generally a college student’s uniform.

The simplest money-saving change to make is implementing a reusable water bottle into your daily routine. Not only is this better for the environment as it reduces plastic waste, but it also saves you a lot of money each month by not having to buy single-use water bottles. More so, making coffee in your room can save you over $1,000, which is what the typical college student can spend well over in a year just for coffee! Spending money on coffee daily does not only drain your bank account, but it actually stops you from making money. Had the money used for both water bottles and coffee been saved and potentially invested, it could grow significantly by the time you'll graduate.

One less tangible way to save money is by creating a budget and then sticking to it. Tracking your budget has been made easy with apps such as Cleo. This app analyzes your spending and gives you monthly statements to show you the breakdown of your expenses. This way, you can target where you are overspending and pay more attention to it. Another way to budget is by making lists and sticking to it strictly. This is beneficial while grocery shopping or even while shopping for clothes. Making lists allows you to stick to purchasing only necessities and not stray away to purchase things you will not use. Using these technology-focused budgeting techniques is a perfect pair with Money Compass, allowing you to save sums of money to pay off your debt and better understand your financial plans.

In order to compensate for these small expenses, there are flexible jobs and tasks that fit perfectly into the typical college student’s schedule. These jobs are not only remote but also require very little time. By taking surveys online, you can slowly accumulate money to outweigh the necessary expenses. Brands and experimenters post surveys in which they need people to take and provide monetary compensation in return for your time. Sites such as surveyjunkie.com have many surveys to choose from for various people’s interests. There are many other easy ways to make money online, such as reviewing websites. Brands offer opportunities like this in an attempt to expand their outreach. Reviewing websites and apps not only benefits the brand with research on their product but also benefits you as it supplies the reviewer with extra spending money. You can access opportunities like these on UserTesting.com. Lastly, another job that is accessible to college students is a work-study. These jobs are easy to maintain as they factor in busy schedules and usually do not require transportation off of the student’s campus. These job opportunities, as well as many others, are low maintenance and allow for you to do work around the clock.

No matter what we do, our money supply is not endless, and life requires spending money over time whether we want to or not. By making small changes to our daily lives we can not only improve our financial ground but pay off debt quicker and more easily.


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