College doesn’t come cheap.
As collegiettes, we’re so focused on making the most of our four years on campus – balancing our classes and good grades with social lives, extracurriculars and even study abroad experiences. Every little bit of cash counts, so we’re sharing our favorite money-saving hacks to help you make the most of college.
1. Choose the right way to pay
Student loans seem scary. When you’re dealing with payment plans, interest rates and other financial jargon you’ve never heard before (and really would rather live without), it can seem impossible to pick a plan that works for you. But that’s the key to saving money!
Make it easy on yourself by creating a smart, easy financial plan. Check out College Ave Student Loans, which was founded to help students pay for school as easily and inexpensively as possible. They give you a ton of loan options and payment plans to choose from so that you’re not borrowing more than you need or paying more than you should down the line.
Plus, you can use yet another money-saving hack: You can start paying off your loan, little by little, while you’re still in school. College Ave Student Loans rewards early payments by reducing your interest charges, which means you get to pay less overall.
2. Cut down on your extra expenses
Admit it: Your daily iced coffee craving (and inability to avoid giving into that craving) is costing you big bucks. Sure, plunking down $3.00 a day might not seem like much. But try adding that up over the course of the year, and you’ve just drank over $1,000 worth of caffeine.
Whatever your small spending habit is – be it coffee runs before your library sessions, ordering sushi to your dorm once a week or shopping to de-stress (true story) – it’s important to tally it up over the course of the year and decide if it’s worth your spending. If you can cut it down by half – only grabbing a coffee every other day, shopping once a month instead of every other week, etc. – you can save majorly big bucks in the long run. Prioritize your spending, people!
3. Use apps to track your expenses
Even if you cut down on your coffee purchases and opt for home-brewed or dining hall offerings, you’re still going to be spending your money somewhere. Download a free app like Mint to track your expenses and build smart budgets for yourself. That way, you won’t find yourself strapped for cash at the end of the month, wondering where it all went!
Take your budgeting hack one step further by looking into smartphone apps that save you money; trust us when we say there are tons of ways to ensure you’re spending smartly, and your phone is one of the best tools to help you do it!
4. Get involved on campus
You’re already spending a ton of your time in college getting involved in extracurriculars. Why not kill two birds with one stone and let your club events and time on campus actually save you money?
Jen Morgan, a senior at Messiah College, says that this is the key to controlling your spending in college. “Since you probably pay a student activities fee every time you get your tuition bill for the semester, you might as well make the most of it!” she explains. “If you want to save some money, skip the club or bar that night and opt for a free night of fun on-campus. These activities often include movies, parties, dances and other fun events.”
Even if you’re not a member of a specific club, you may still be able to score free food (prepare for a lot of pizza!) at events other clubs are hosting, like panels or get-togethers on campus. Get your daily dose of entertainment and your dinner by getting involved!
5. Make lists (and stick to them)
This goes without saying, but it’s easy to get carried away in college. Everywhere you turn, you’re looking at an opportunity to have fun – or an opportunity to buy something that’ll make your day that much easier (even if that something is an extra bag of Oreos). How are you supposed to hold back when it feels like the world is at your fingertips?
Just remember: lists, lists, lists! “Whether you’re headed to the grocery store or on a Target run, make a list of the items you know you need to purchase,” advises Jen. “This will save you time as you shop, and will save you money if you vow to only stick to items on your list.”