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saving in college

Adulting Student Life

Budgeting 101 For College Students

December 10, 2020

If you’re like many other college students, the idea of budgeting may seem a little difficult to think about. Some students are easily able to get the things they need throughout their time in college, while others may be restricted to tight budgets or wonder how they will ever make it through.

Here are a few suggestions for those who are looking for budget-friendly ways to navigate through college that may even save a few dollars along the way.

Determine your needs versus wants 

Part of being financially responsible and developing money-conscious habits is knowing the difference between your wants and your needs. It’s human nature to want to have the best of the best — whether it’s clothes, shoes, or the newest tech gadgets. Although it is nice to have finer things, as a college student you will soon realize that these may be things you really want but don’t need. You might also find that eating out and socializing with friends can add up quickly. If you have an income through a part-time job or paid internship, you could probably afford to set aside some “fun money” so you can treat yourself within reason!

Plan and write out your expenses

Growing up, you may have seen your parents making a list of bills or other things they need to prioritize in the near future. This is an excellent habit to start on your own as a college student and use once you have started your career as well. As often as you need to, take a look at your most common expenses and bills and write them down. Have a description of what they are and how much you will need to pay for them. By doing this, you’ll be able to see what needs to be taken care of before you can put money away for savings or splurge. A budgeting app like Mint or You Need a Budget may also be helpful. 

Use discounts and free services as often as you can 

We can all appreciate discounts and free stuff! As a college student, you should always be on the lookout for good deals! This video shares some student benefits you might not know about. You might be surprised how far your student ID could take you — from free tickets to sporting events, to discounts on memberships and subscriptions, and even exclusive deals on laptops and electronics. Sign up for sites like Student Beans and UNiDAYS to start saving.

Creating good money habits in college will benefit you long after graduation day. Happy budgeting!

Health Other

How Being Eco-Friendly at College Can Save You Money

July 10, 2020

Embracing a greener lifestyle is a great way to improve your carbon footprint and help leave a positive impact on the world. But did you know that it can actually save you money, too? Here are some easy ways you can benefit financially from a more eco-friendly college experience

Avoid Single-Use Anything

If you haven’t already, it’s time to ditch the plastic water bottles and to-go coffee cups and opt for a more sustainable option. Every single minute, the world uses one million plastic water bottles, so do what you can to help cut back on that. Take it a step further with reusable grocery bags and avoiding disposable utensils.

Temperature Control

One of your sneakiest expenses can be hiding in your utility bills. Bouncing back and forth between temperatures can be costly, as well as bad for the environment. During warmer months, you’ll probably be tempted to crank the AC in order to stay cool. Instead of turning down the thermostat, you can keep your room cool without using as much energy by getting blackout curtains. You should also make sure that you’re only turning the light when you’re in the room and need it on. Check your air vents, or talk to your landlord or property manager, to make sure they don’t have any dust or debris buildup that could hinder your home’s cooling efficiency. 

Go Digital

Instead of taking notes on paper, try using your laptop or tablet instead. Not only will this save paper, but you’ll be spending less on notebooks and pens. You can even voice record your lectures and listen to them later on. 

Change Your Commute

Consider riding your bike to work. Not only will you incorporate a fun workout into your day, but you’ll also be helping to relieve stress. It can also help you save money on transportation expenses like gas and auto maintenance. If a bike ride doesn’t work for you, look into other options like carpooling or taking public transportation.

Re-think Your Textbooks

Tired of expensive textbooks that you’ll never use beyond that one course? Look into used book options! Many websites and local bookstores offer buy-back programs on previously-used books. Not only will this help you save money in the beginning, but it also gives you the potential to earn money back once you’re done with it. Another great option is to use digital versions of textbooks. Oftentimes you can buy downloadable copies right from the publisher, for pennies on the dollar of what the paper textbook would cost. An added perk? Many of these include updated annotations or dictation, so you can better follow and understand the content as you go. 

Get Thrifty

Why pay full price on anything when you can get great items for a fraction of the cost? Whether you’re looking for a quirky piece of furniture or new clothing, you can find just about anything in thrift stores if you look hard enough. 

Turn it Off

Turning off or unplugging electronics that you’re no longer using is one of the easiest ways to curb your use of power. Hit the lights when you leave a room, and unplug chargers when you’re done using them. Then take it one step further and cut back on your water usage while you shower, brush your teeth, or do the dishes.

Working towards a greener lifestyle doesn’t have to be an overnight thing. It’s a process, and it’s okay to take as much time as you need to ease into it. Making small changes through the day can lead to lasting effects down the line that your planet, and wallet, will thank you for. 

Other Transition

Top 5 Way to Save Money After College

October 3, 2019

There are 3.6 million college graduates living in poverty, and it’s to be expected given not only factors such as student loans and other college-related debt, but also the difficulties one might experience when obtaining a job in their field or the starting wages at these jobs.

Creating a Budget

You hear it all the time and not to be a broken record, but creating a budget is the first step to saving money, especially as you start paying back student loans or other debts. Right now you’re probably getting notifications that you need to start paying off your loans, you’re having to move out of student housing, and basically, this whole being-an-adult-thing is about to get a lot harder!

You can do this though! And the first step is creating that budget. It doesn’t need to be fancy. You can even use a free template on Excel or Google Docs. Make sure to carefully document all sources of income and all expenses, even the ones you might want to ignore. If you’re not sure where to start on paying your student loan debt, there are great calculators and resources available.

Saving $$$ on Food

Don’t worry, you don’t have to eat ramen the rest of your life — although there are some fun ways to spice up that cost-effective meal! But a good chunk of your expenses may be coming from food. Apps like Mint actually track how you spend your money and you might be surprised to see how often you eat out or how much those “treat yourself” items at the grocery store are costing you. A great way to avoid those last-minute splurges is creating yourself a meal plan with a shopping list, allowing yourself to be only one spur-of-the-moment item.

Meal planning isn’t just for being healthy, although that can be a great perk, but it’s great for time management and budgeting. Simple, cheap meal plans will help you save without living off rice, beans, and ramen!

Cut Back on Utility Bills

A lot of us may have had the luxury of free or discounted internet and TV while living in student housing, but now that we’ve graduated, we’re having to deal with these bills on our own. A great way to cut down bills is to really examine what you need: Do you really watch cable or do you watch Netflix or Hulu? You might even be able to cut down on your internet speeds. An internet connection with 5mbps, though not ideal, is enough to stream and browse the internet.

Getting Married? Don’t Worry!

And then there’s the biggest expense of all—marriage! If you’re one of those ‘lucky’ ones about to make the big commitment dive into marriage, you’re probably stressed about a long list of expenses ranging from booking a venue, the cost of a wedding dress, and all the things that come after. What if you don’t get the things you need most on your registry? And if you’re the one getting to propose, you might be worried about the cost of a ring. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that complicated!

There is even a list of venues that won’t cost an arm and a leg. And if you’re still looking for that special ring you might consider an eternity band that offers special financing and a wide array of options for various budgets.

 Creating Long-Term Goals and Building Credit

Two of the most important things to consider after graduating from college are your long-term goals and how you’re going to obtain them. One of the biggest factors for obtaining our long-term goals (such as buying a house) is building our credit. There are important factors to pay attention to when building your credit, such as staying on top of your student loan payments, credit card usage, and ways to avoid negative marks are your credit. There are also options for credit repair if you’re already suffering from negative items on your credit report.

Whatever your goals may be, there are many paths to take, even when you’re fresh out of college and still sorting everything out. If you start saving now and planning for those special life plans, there’s nothing you can’t achieve! 

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Other Transition

What to do With Graduation Money

June 24, 2016

Many graduates get a nice stack of cash shortly after graduation. Whether it’s from your family or friends, it is very important to know how to manage this money. Often, recent graduates tend to blow most of the money at their first opportunity. This is exactly the opposite of what you should do!

If you can’t help yourself and you are just dying to go out and spend some of the money, set aside 10% for spending and keep the rest in your bank account. Ethan Ewing, president of, warns that “cash in hand can be a pretty dangerous thing.”  Ewing is right, when you carry around a large amount of your money, you are much more likely to spend it!  So take that 10% and have a good time, but make sure you keep the rest untouched!

Some other, more beneficial, options you may consider are provided by Claudia Buck, a writer for The Sarcamento Bee. Getting rid of debt is always a great option. Most graduates today are graduating with thousands in credit card debt in addition to their school loans. Reward your future self by cutting down your debt.

If you don’t want to lose all your money, you should consider saving.  It is always a good idea to save money so consider dropping the money into a savings account or short term cd.

Open an IRA or Roth to help plan for the future. Although these options are long term, they are great ways to put away money and gain interest.

Do you have an emergency fund? No? Well, no better time to start than now! Setting aside money in case of emergencies is always a great way to ensure you will be ok if something sudden comes up.

Professional attire.  If you are going to spend your money, spend it wisely, and invest in attire that will help you in the future.  You do not want to go into interviews looking disheveled and unprepared; you need to stand out in a good way. If you must spend some of that money, invest in some professional attire to help you look and feel more presentable in interviews.

Insurance anyone? This is the best opportunity to get started on a insurance plan. You already have money saved up to pay for premiums in case you don’t find a job.  You definitely don’t have enough to afford medical bills though. Weigh your risks, anyone can get sick! Consider a short-term plan if you are confident you will have a job.  They are offered up to 12 months and provide great gap insurance!

Career Other Student Life

Reducing College Costs

June 21, 2016

College is expensive and college costs continue to climb every year but there are ways to help manage the rising costs.

  1. Apply for financial aid – even if you think your family earns too much money to qualify, send in the forms.
  2. Look for scholarships – scholarships are available to students that aren’t based on need.
  3. Apply for loans – many student loans do not require payments until schooling has been completed.
  4. Apply for grants – Grants give students money that does not have to be paid back after graduation.
  5. The Federal Student Work Program provides jobs to students.  These jobs often relate to their field of study, allowing students to get real world experience.
  6. Look for jobs through your academic institution.  Some schools offer jobs that come with tuition discounts and wages.
  7. Programs such as AmeriCorps, Vista, the ROTC and the Peace Corps will help pay off student loans or provide funds during college in exchange for a service commitment upon graduation.
  8. Tax breaks on 529 plans and larger deductions also are available.
  9. Take the first two years at a community college. Pick one that has an articulation agreement with a four-year university. It’s quite common and specifies which community-college credits will be accepted toward a bachelor’s degree at the four-year institution.
  10. If attending a four year college, take summer school at a community college near home.
  11. Get college credit early. Many high schools offer college-level classes to prepare for Advance Placement exams.

Paying for the basics

  1. The cheapest living is living at home with mom and dad, if you can.
  2. If you are planning on or required to live on or near campus, don’t buy the most expensive meal plan if you are not going to use it.
  3. Furnish your room with great finds from thrift shop rather then new decor.
  4. Be a resident assistant.  This job is typically open to undergraduate students and provides students with discounts on room and board.
  5. Ask your family to buy a home.  It may seem like a crazy idea but renting out other rooms can offset monthly mortgage payments.
  6. Paying for textbooks often costs college students nearly a $1000 a year.
    1. Purchasing books online using sites like,, and College Book Swap can help with the high costs of books.
    2. Avoid purchasing books when they are priced the highest, August, September, January and February.
    3. Purchase ebooks, ebooks are generally much lower in price and provide students access to the same information.
    4. Look for free books, one company, Freeload Press, provides some electronic texts free of charge.
    5. Consider international editions of books, some international texts are cheaper then US versions but contain the same content.
    6. Share books with other students or use a library copy.
    7. Resell your books when you are through.

College students typically have a small budget so maintain it well.  Little things add up quickly.

  1. Having a car can be a major expense if you are paying the bill.  If it is possible for you to walk or take the bus, do so.
  2. Compare cell phone plans, some carriers offer special discounts to students to help generate business.  Take advantage of these deals!
  3. Shop around for your computer.  It is hard to get through school without a computer but you can find great deals on computers if you shop around and compare prices.
  4. Find out if you are being charged for health care coverage from the academic institution, it may be duplicating the coverage you are already receiving from your parents.
  5. Stay on track in school, by graduating in four years or less, you can avoid any additional debt.

All of the tips and information above was provided by First Tax Solution LLC.