College can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be cripplingly so. If you’re trying to save money in college, there are countless ways to cut back and grow your bank account. By opting for a more spendthrift lifestyle, you'll be able to escape the cash-strapped student stereotype.
Saving Money as a Student
Though many students often struggle with their finances in college, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are six of the best ways to save money in college:
1 Get Rid of Your Credit Cards
When you’re at college, it can be very tempting to use your credit card for everything. Most college students are off on their own for the first time and want to finance a new lifestyle. While you might consider a credit card a rite of passage into adulthood, it's a good idea to resist overspending. Credit cards carry high-interest rates and create additional financial obligations that most students don’t need or want. By saving your credit cards for emergencies or getting rid of them completely, you'll be able to save your hard-earned cash for what you truly need.
2 Stop Buying Expensive Textbooks
Another big financial drain in college is textbooks. Students can cut back on spending each semester by renting books or buying used textbooks. Be sure to take good care of each textbook when renting or if you hope to resell your textbook at the end of the semester.
Likewise, consider purchasing the online version of a textbook to save space and money. You can also get great deals on used textbooks from sites like Chegg that pay students directly every time someone buys their book from them.
3 Set Your Bills to Autopay
Autopay services give students another way to save money and avoid overspending. If you’re like most college students, your checking account probably dwindles throughout the month. Setting your bills to autopay (with at least a week’s worth of cushion) will ensure that you have money for groceries and gas without running out of money. By automating these payments, you'll easily be able to avoid overdrafts and late fees that would otherwise hurt your bank account even further.
4 Use Coupons
When it comes to college spending, not eating out is one of the easiest ways to save money. Make a plan with friends for a date night at home instead of venturing out and consider bringing your lunch every day instead of buying meals on campus. Not only will you save money, but you'll also make better food choices when you're cooking for yourself.
Remember that many college campuses have grocery stores nearby where you can get basic, economically priced staples. If there aren't accessible grocery stores in your area, check around town for bulk stores or even look online to order foods from grocery delivery services like Instacart.
5 Limit Going Out
Another way to cut back on spending in college is to limit going out. Not only does going out to bars and restaurants cost money, but it's also more expensive than having fun at home. A study from 2010 showed that college students spend between $2 and $7 on average per meal while they're studying. By making a habit of hanging out at home, you'll be able to save more money and get a head start on your studies.
6 Set Financial Goals and Create Actionable Plans
One of the best ways to save money as a college student is to set financial goals that align with your values and create an actionable plan to achieve them. Your goals should be quantifiable and prioritize long-term objectives over short-term desires. Then, consider a few creative ways you can save toward those goals each month.
For example, you can set up a separate savings account or increase your contributions into an existing retirement plan. Once you've figured out how much you'll need to reach your goal, open an online high-yield savings account to protect your earnings against taking a hit from traditional bank fees.
Whether you’re cutting back on expenses or taking on a side hustle for some extra cash, it’s possible to find financial freedom as a college student. Use these tips to get your finances to a better place.