College can be quite expensive even with financial aid. Students and recent graduates often find themselves with enormous debt. However, it is possible to avoid the predicament by managing expenses and money responsibly while at college. Given below are a few tips that will help you live cheap and save money:
1- Track your expenses
The first thing to do at college is to get a good checking account with a bank. Most banks today provide free student checking accounts. A checking account will allow you to keep track of all your purchases and manage cash better. Understanding the nature of your expenses is the best way to stay within your budget.
2- Get a job
Most students have a job today to support their expenses at college. Working part time does not ideally affect grades. In fact, a job will allow you to be engaged in activities that will further your career and provide you practical experience that will make you stand apart from others at an interview. More importantly, it will provide you a good source of income to manage your expenses at college.
3- Buy used textbooks
One of the biggest expenses at college is textbooks. New textbooks tend to be really expensive since new editions often cost up to $300. The best alternative to this major expense is to try and find bookstores in your town that sell used textbooks. College campuses often have several used bookstores and their prices tend to be considerably reduced. You can also check online for textbooks. The prices tend to be much cheaper even when you include shipping charges. Another option is to ask friends and past graduates if you can borrow their books.
4- Student discounts
Being a student has its own perks so make the most of it. A student ID can get you discounts on just about everything from computers and movies to travel tickets. Use your student ID to get discounts on your leisure activities and even for Greyhound and Amtrak tickets if you plan on traveling anywhere.
Although living an independent life outside the campus with a few friends sounds very promising, it can turn out to be a very expensive affair. Compare all your accommodation options carefully. Living in the dorm may actually turn out to be cheaper. However, if you decide to rent an apartment, get a few roommates so you can share the expenses. For furniture and appliances, ask friends or parents for their old furniture or appliances they do not use. Heating, water and electricity bills tend to be quite expensive so learn to live frugal. Turn off the lights, use water carefully and use heat and air conditioning sparingly.
A car can turn out to be very expensive at college considering the money you will have to spend on gas, tickets and parking passes. Instead, take the subway or local bus. Your student ID will generally get you good discounts on public transit. If public transit is not available, consider carpooling with friends. You can also bike or walk to your classes.