College is considered a time to earn a degree, gain an education, and make new friends. One thing nobody associates college with, however, is saving money. The poor college student living off instant ramen and asking their parents for money is a common stereotype, and not that far off. In fact, according to Financial Advisor, nearly two-thirds of college undergrads have run out of money at some point before the end of the semester. Avoid being another broke college kid, and follow these money-saving tips.
Take advantage of your meal plan! If you pay a flat fee for you semester or yearly meal plan, chances are you aren’t getting that money back. Do yourself a favor, and eat in the cafeteria as much as you can. Every meal you skip is money going down the drain. Some colleges will let you get a meal to go or use flex dollars to get meal or snacks. Rarely do you get any of the unused flex or meals back, so at least get something to go and save it for later if you decide to skip a campus meal. While you’re at it, avoid eating out at restaurants if you have a meal plan. Students essentially pay for two meals when they eat out—the campus meal, and the restaurant meal.
Utilize your student ID discounts. College students are often woefully unaware of how much money they can save just by having a student ID. Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Spotify are just a few of the big name companies that give major discounts to students. Local businesses may also have student discounts, whether it be sports arenas, restaurants, or even retailers, flashing an ID or asking about student IDs is often worthwhile. Sites like UNiDAYS even collect student discounts into one location, showcasing some of the biggest names that offer up savings for college students.
Pay off student loan interest. There are many types of student loans, and payment plans and interest levels vary, but it’s always smart to pay the interest before it gets added to the principal. Interest accrues on loans even when people are still in school (excluding subsidized loans), and once they graduate and the grace period ends, that interest can get added onto the principal. That means that not only will you pay interest on the original loan amount, but all the taxes that had accrued, as well. This can cost people thousands of dollars in the long run, and many don’t even know that it happens. If you are able to, pay off interest either while in college or before it gets added to the principal, and you can save big bucks in the long run.
Finally, be smart with your buying habits. Do you need another pair of sneakers or the newest generation of Airpods? It’s easy to lose track of all the small things that are purchased without much thought, or even the more indulgent buys, but it’s important to keep track of them and be meaningful with purchases. If that means setting up a budget, starting auto-pay on ongoing expenses, tracking account balances with online banking, or however else you choose to manage your spending, it’s important that you don’t just swipe a card and forget about it. Frivolous spending is an easy habit to get into while at college, and a hard one to break, so save yourself some money by avoiding it from the outset.
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