When you’re a student, saving money can be a struggle. After all, the costs add up–from textbooks for class, to going out with friends for dinner, to going out for drinks over the weekend, it seems like you’re always spending money. And even with a part-time job at the local bar or your work-study position, you still don’t seem to have enough money at the end of the month. It’s a huge worry, a big source of anxiety for you, and if you’ve got student loans, it’s an even bigger deal. And worrying so much is distracting you from what matters most, like your studies and your personal life.
Luckily, there are some ways to save money that you might not even know about–and many of them are easier than you might have imagined. So if you’re ready to get creative and save some money, check out these tips:
1 Track your spending
It may seem obvious that tracking your spending is an important part of saving money, but let’s be real: when was the last time you actually kept track of every single purchase you made and knew how it was impacting your monthly budget? And have you planned an actual spending strategy? If you haven’t, then it’s time to start, because planning and making yourself accountable is the most important first step to saving money.
According to Graduate Prospects, you’ll want to start with creating “a spreadsheet showing your income from student loans, scholarships and bursaries, parents and any part-time job you have, and note down regular outgoings such as your rent and mobile phone contract. You’ll then be able to see exactly how much you have available to spend each month.” Using a budgeting app such as Mint or Spendee can make it easier to track your spending, too–and it can make all the difference, considering that the average cost of college tuition at in-state school is $20,090 a year.
2 Don’t spend it all on books
Sure, there is something amazing about a new book, especially if you’re studying English or philosophy and all you want to do is sit around your dorm room all day and curl up with a good book, making notes in the margins of the pages. But the fact is, with the average annual cost of textbooks as high as $602 in the scholastic year of 2015-2016, buying books new is going to be a pretty big blow to your budget.
According to reachout.com, some easy ways to save money on books include buying them used at a second-hand bookshop, finding cheaper copies online, and purchasing e-books instead of physical ones. You might also want to use BookScouter, an app for finding cheaper copies of books.
3 Spend less on food–and alcohol
Obviously, one of the best things about being a college student is hanging out with your friends in the dining hall, or going out on Thursday night for special deals at the local college bar. But because it’s so much fun, it’s likely that you’re spending way more than you should be. Especially if you’re buying rounds of shots every time one of your friends turns 21.
The fact is, it adds up. College students spend up to 85 percent more a day on food by eating in dining halls than they would if they were simply eating at home. So if you’re looking to seriously reduce costs, consider skipping out on meal plans (or going for a minimal plan). Additionally, some other ways to save on food, according to ACMC, including eating most of your meals at home (with special days per month allotted for going out), planning your meals at the beginning of the week to save, buying generic items at the grocery store, and eating your leftovers. If you’re always busy, consider cooking in bulk once a week–check out this list of 17 easy dinners you can eat for a week from Buzzfeed to get inspired!
4 Use student deals
Finally, one of the best ways to save money is by finding student deals that can benefit you. There are lots of great deals out there, and it’s really just about finding them. For example, Amazon has tons of deals, including a free trial of Amazon Prime, which includes free shopping and free entertainment. There’s even an app you can use to save money, UNiDAYS, which can save you money on music, food, and clothing. Check out the reviews here.
Considering that Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt–among a total of 44 million borrowers–cutting these expenses wherever you can make a huge difference.
By following these tips, you’ll save some money–which means that you can have a bit more at the end of the month, to save or spend on something special.
What strategies do you use to save money?