5 Super Easy Ways To Save Money While Living On Campus
Living frugally is challenging when you’re a college student. Not only are you faced with mandatory purchases like tuition, rent, and textbooks, you also come across a couple of other miscellaneous expenses that can really cut deep into your wallet. The groceries for your section of the fridge, the cover fees for various campus events, and even the iced coffees you buy every morning that always causes you to be late for your lecture can all rack up the costs (and fast).
As stressful as it can be to deal with all of these, staying financially afloat can be as simple as a maintaining a good budget, employing your financial skills efficiently, and taking advantage of the resources that are available to you. It’s a valuable lesson you’ll learn while living on campus that isn’t given in a lecture hall. Read on for 5 super easy ways to save money while living on campus:
#1 Use student discounts
Typically, local businesses near colleges will have student discounts. There may be some cafes that offer lower-priced drinks, or clothing stores that give a 15% discount. If you’re looking to save money while on campus, it would be a good idea to scout your area for these businesses and make a note of the discounts they offer to students.
Also, don’t forget about your student ID—it may be able to get you certain products and services at cheaper prices. For example, many campuses offer things like free gym memberships and lower bus fare rates to students who can present a valid student ID. Just make sure to look up exactly what you can avail of with it so you’re prepared.
#2 Do research on your courses
Before the start of every term, plan out exactly what you’ll need for each of your courses. Are there any required textbooks? Do you need an iClicker? Is there an accompanying lab you’ll need to buy additional course materials for? Knowing exactly what you need will help you manage your finances so you aren’t surprised with anything once the term starts.
Also, get into the habit of reading online forums and asking around—people who have taken the course before may be able to give valuable advice, especially when it comes to determining the bare essentials you’ll need to pass. For example, some professors will list certain textbooks as mandatory, but you might not even need to buy them since their course notes are detailed enough.
#3 Opt-out if you can
Some universities have various non-essential, non-tuition packages that are often overlooked. These could include fees related to things like student health and dental plans or even faculty donations. While a lot of the fees go towards funding groups that enrich student life, they are nevertheless ancillary, and some campus organizations do give students the option to opt out of them.
In some cases, opting out of something like your student health and dental plan may be worth it, especially if you already have your own insurance. In some schools, the opt-out will put a few dollars back into your pocket. Just make sure to be aware of the opt-out deadlines so you don’t miss out on the opportunity. For more advice on this, seek out a financial aid officer on campus.
#4 Divide and conquer
If you live with roommates, try to help each other out by splitting some living expenses. After all, you will be sharing the space together, so it would only be fair to evenly distribute the responsibilities. For example, maybe you can take turns covering the toilet paper refills for the washroom, or paying for the take-out during your weekend hangouts. Sharing is caring!
#5 Limit the eating out
Eating out is expensive, especially if you do it every day. It’s probably the biggest expense that college students have when it comes to campus living. Just think about it—if one meal averages around $12 each, and you buy three meals a day, you’d spend $36 on food; just for that one day. That’s $36 that could have gone to something else.
If you don’t have a student meal plan, perhaps it would be a good idea to buy your own groceries. Cooking your own food will be cheaper than going out to eat or buying takeout because at least you’ll have a bit more control over the prices. Save the restaurant dining for more special occasions, like if you pass an exam or nail your term paper.