Tuition costs continue to rise every year, but one thing seems to remain constant: attending college often necessitates penny-pinching. Whether it’s eating out less to buy textbooks or applying for scholarships to avoid debt, saving money and attending college go hand in hand.
Here are some of my methods for reining in your spending, hopefully earning a buck or two on the side, and still enjoying a four- (for some five-) year education—without resorting to dumpster diving.
Read on for five tips to help you cut costs.
1. Limit eating or drinking out (unless it’s a good deal)
Scour your local watering holes for deals, become a coupon clipper, and refuse to go out unless you know you won’t have to pay full price.
In general, though, you’ll save a lot more money if you buy groceries and cook yourself. Or, if you’re fortunate enough to live close to home, you could always mooch food off your parents.
2. Student discounts
It’s incredible how many businesses will give you a discount if you flash that plastic, poorly printed student ID of yours. Restaurants, movie tickets, admission to concerts, you name it. Don’t know for sure? Just ask! Maybe you can even persuade them to give you a discount.
3. Be shrewd with textbooks
Here is some advice: get clever. Talk to classmates, read reviews on the course, and see if you really need the book for the class. If you do, consider renting instead of buying (which is generally cheaper).
Or, try to buy it cheaper online. Look on Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook, or your college forums. You could even harass people who took the class last semester to loan you their old one.
Finally, if you can get away with buying an older edition of the same textbook, you can save a TON of money. It doesn’t work for every class, but when it can, it’s a godsend.
4. Get a side-hustle
No amount of saving will help if you don’t have even a small influx of cash. In college, your earning options are limited:
- Get loans and go into (more) debt.
- Beg your parents for money.
- Apply for scholarships.
- Get a job.
- All of the above.
If you haven’t searched for scholarships yet, what are you waiting for? It’s free money, and sometimes you can earn them for ridiculous things. Good at duck calling? Scholarship. Is your last name Zolp? Scholarship. Check out your college’s .edu site, find some scholarships, and apply!
If you don’t want to write an essay, you could always get a job on the side. You could drive for Uber or Lyft when it’s convenient for you. Don’t have a car? Work one of the many jobs available on campus (conveniently within walking distance!). There’s no shortage of jobs if you’re willing to look.
Those are just a few tips, and it barely scratches the surface— college students should consider the importance of insuring essentials!
Bio: Alex Enabnit, an ASU grad and certified tightwad, is an insurance and Medicare writer for Eligibility.com. In his spare time, you’ll find him trying to avoid the sun and stay cool while failing at both.