5 Ways For College Students To Better Manage Their Finances

Money Wallet
1. Cut food costs
Wining and dining out frequently just slashes from your funds.  Stick to a strict eating plan where you minimize going out and utilize the inexpensive dorm cafes. You can start cooking more from home (especially if you are a ramen noodles cook) and try to identify the best value grocery store in your area: every college has one.  Wholesalers like Costco and Sam’s Club can be an efficient sources for college kids to stock up on food in bulk, though this poses a problem if you are living in a dorm or small apartment.  Wal-Mart was unsurprisingly Consumer Reports best value grocery market, and will surely provide you cheaper food than would the likes of Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and some of the pricier chains.

2. Get a job
According to “O’Donnel & Associates,” the average college student makes $450+ per month with an average of 16 hour weeks.  Earn some extra cash that can serve as disposable income or use it however you wish.  Jobs at your student union, desk receptionist positions, and library jobs are especially easy to run with minimal training and flexible hours for the most part. If your course load is light, a job can be an efficient way to spend your time and will also sound great for interviews or grad school letters when you note how you had the “rigorous challenge of balancing school life with work life!”

3. Sell your texts
Amazon Book Buy Back and Chegg are personal favorites when it comes to returning textbooks.  Typically, this money is then directly put back into new books, which is key to cutting costs.  After the semester ends, most rejoicing students neglect academics and their books in preparation for the holidays or summer.  However, selling your books back as soon as possible yields the best returns because textbooks are being updated and revised on a seemingly annual basis.  If you wait six months to return a book, your book’s “stock price” could fall faster than any Wall Street investor’s worst nightmare.  Amazon will refund you with Amazon gift cards, and considering they are the world’s largest retailer (did you know people buy diapers on Amazon!?), you can get nearly anything, including new textbooks on their site.  Chegg is also a top-line book buyback program that consistently gives better buys than your local textbook store can offer.

4. Sell your stuff
Done with your old iPhone, PS3, and laptop?  Your college football or basketball tickets?  Lady Gaga tickets?  Got something you think could be valuable?  If so, eBay is the one stop shop to auctioning off goods.  However, there are some college friendly versions of eBay, a major one being Zaarly.  Zaarly is sort of like eBay on your college campus.  It serves as an intermediary to hook you up with people who are buying or selling things.  You can be the buyer or seller in any case, so check them out if you are looking to sell something quick and local.  Craiglist is, of course, another option, but always remember to be cautious when trusting a buyer.

5. Get the “Student Advantage” card and always ask about “college discounts”
A Student Advantage discount card gives you great deals for most of your college retail shop needs,the best rates for your Amtrak train or Greyhound bus back home, book renting websites, Footlocker discounts, and Armani Exchange among others.  Moreover, be sure to ask about college discounts wherever you go: while they rarely advertise for it, many retailers and outlets offer deals and discounts for college students.  For an example, both J. Crew and the Banana Republic offer 15% off for students with a valid college ID! For more perks specific to college students, check out these 15 College Student Benefits You Might Not Know About.