Tuition, books, room and board, and life in general cost more than they should. But you work hard for your money, so don’t let the cost of college break the bank. All you need to do is become a savvy spender. Here are 5 ways to save money in college:
The best way to save money in college is to think about spending before you do it. Start by putting a limit on your monthly expenditures. Avoid exceeding that limit at all costs! To choose a number, consider the following: conservative estimates are better and no budget should exceed the income that funds it. In other words, don’t dip into your savings if you don’t have to.
2. Make use of your student ID.
You know what’s awesome about being a student? Student Discounts! You’d be surprised how often and how much you’ll save on food, entertainment, transportation, museums, and more. As a student, you even qualify for an International Student Identity Card, which can save you boatloads on travel! A rule of thumb to maximize your savings: every time you spend money, get in the habit of asking if there’s a student discount.
3. Buy in bulk.
Don’t resort to sample-sized bottles of toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, or food items that don’t spoil. Go big and save money. Better yet, go big during a sale and stock up when all your essentials are cheap. You’ll spend a bit more at the register, but over time you’ll save money.
4. Enjoy free fun.
Eating out at restaurants or going into the city can cost a pretty penny, so why not enjoy free campus activities instead? Most campuses host screenings, lectures, dances, parties, concerts, and more—all free of charge. Check your school’s events calendar for leads.
5. Use cash instead of credit.
The nice thing about cash is that you can’t spend more than you have. If you spend more than you have with a credit card, and don’t pay your bill at the end of the month, you’ll get stuck with late fees or interest payments. That’s wasted money! Plus, according to psychologists, people tend to spend less when they’re using cash. Apparently the physical act of handing someone money—and actually seeing your wallet get thinner—isn’t as enjoyable as you thought.
The key to keeping college affordable is managing all your money all the time, so if you have a tendency to overspend then it’s time to curb that habit. Here are the do’s and don’ts of managing money in college:
1. Make a budget—including an “extraneous” fund. Every month you should put a limit on your spending. Then desperately avoid exceeding that limit! The number you choose should be conservative and should never exceed your income. After all, you don’t want to dip into savings if you don’t have to and you certainly don’t want to accrue any debt that’s not related to your education. As an aside, the budget should include an allowance for entertainment. Planning how much you spend on fun makes it easier to avoid spending too much.
2. Distinguish between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. When deciding how to spend your money, it’s important to remember that needs come first. For example: you probably need a basic computer but probably want an expensive model that plays games. Resist the urge to upgrade and put the savings to better use.
3. Use your meal plan (if you have one). A common mistake college students make is having a meal plan and not using it, either because they don’t like the food in the dining hall or because other options are more convenient. But if you’re going to restaurants or grocery stores instead of using a meal plan you already paid for, you’re essentially paying double for your food.
4. Save on textbooks. Why pay campus bookstore prices when you can save up to 90% on textbooks when you buy or rent with ValoreBooks? It’s an obvious matter of math: saving 90% means you could spend $500 less every year on books.
1. Rack up debt. The most important rule of money management is to never spend more than you earn. In college, this rule is particularly important. The best way to avoid debt is to cut up your credit card. Use debit or cash instead.
2. Visit the coffee shop every day. Why pay $4-$5 for specialty coffee when it’s just caffeine you’re after? Brew drip coffee at home to save over $100 a month. Then apply this rule to other small, frequent expenditures to see how much money you can save.
3. Borrow too much money. When you’re considering federal or private student loans, it’s important to borrow smartly—which means never borrowing more than you need. That’s why creating the budget mentioned above is so important. If you borrow too much then you’re paying interest on money you’re not spending. Or you’re spending the extra money just because it’s available, which means you’re spending too much. It’s a lose-lose situation. Just remember to compare your options.
The world of student lending is confusing. But here’s a rule to remember: always take out federal student loans before you consider the private option. They’re usually cheaper and have more favorable repayment terms. But if you’ve maxed out your federal aid eligibility or don’t qualify, then you may need a private student loan. Here are 5 steps to choose the right private student loan:
1. Compare you options first.
Knowing your options and comparing interest rates, repayment terms, and borrower benefits could save you thousands. Compare your options!
2. Look beyond the annual percentage rate.
The APR is important, of course, but there are other factors to consider, such as the total cost of the loan, deferment options, and first payment due date.
3. Confirm the interest rate for which you qualify.
It’s important to confirm interest rates with the lender you are researching. The advertised rate and your actual rate may differ, depending on the credit profile of the borrower and co-signer.
4. Find a credit-worthy co-signer.
Most college students will need a co-signer. Increasingly, this goes for graduate students, too, since many do not have a long credit history. And remember: the better your co-signer’s credit, the lower your interest rate.
5. Choose a lender with good customer service.
Borrowers are customers, too, and deserve to be treated as such, so choose a lender you can reach with a toll-free telephone number or fast online assistance available 24/7.
The only thing harder than studying for your classes is finding the money to pay for them. Good thing we’re here to help you borrow cheaply. Here’s the smart guide to student borrowing:
Get started today by comparing your private student loan options. Just remember to:
- Max out your federal aid before you consider the private option. Federal student loans often comes with lower interest rates and more favorable lending terms, so it always pays to use up your federal aid eligibility first. That means: fill out a FAFSA if you haven’t already.
- Know how much to borrow. One of the most expensive mistakes a student can make is borrowing too much money. Budget for all your costs, including extraneous things like entertainment, transportation, printing, and parking. But never plan on using your loan disbursement for stuff you don’t need, like a vacation.
- Find a co-signer. If you’ve got a bad credit score or no credit history, then chances are you’ll have trouble finding a private student loan without a credit-worthy co-signer. But that’s not a bad thing! Having a co-signer improves your chances of qualifying for a private student loan and may actually lower your interest rate, saving you money.
- Keep your expected costs down. There’s an important mantra to remember: the less money you plan on spending, the less money you have to borrow. Our sister-company, ValoreBooks, can help. Stop paying retail prices on textbooks. Shop or rent with ValoreBooks next semester and save up to 90%. Then use that money to pay some of your tuition bill.
- Know your borrower benefits. Private lenders offer various benefits to borrowers. Some provide interest rate discounts for enrolling in auto-repayment or for students who’ve made a certain number of on-time consecutive payments. Some lenders even cut your premium by a percentage point or two when you graduate. The key here: know what’s offered ahead of time and calculate those benefits into your total cost.
Summer break is finally here, but that doesn’t mean you should spend all your time relaxing. Not when there’s money to make! After all, the more money you earn this summer, the less you have to borrow when next semester’s tuition bill arrives. So work hard, save plenty, and get creative. Here are a few ideas on how to earn more money this summer:
1. Sell used textbooks.
Got textbooks from last semester? Or even last year? Sell them with ValoreBooks, our sister-company, for cash! We have the highest sellback prices in the industry. Plus shipping is free and price quotes are instant. See how much your textbooks are worth.
2. Sell used CDs, DVDs, and more.
You can also sell used iPhones, iPads, video games, DVDs, and CDs using ValoreBooks — so clean out that entertainment center and turn your old stuff into cash. Shipping is still free and price quotes are still instant! Sell your stuff for cash!
3. Get a summer job.
This one seems obvious, but it’s surprising how many college students don’t work during the summer. Score even a part-time gig at a restaurant, park, summer camp, movie theater, resort, etc. But don’t wait to apply! Summer jobs are often in high demand, so apply ASAP.
4. Create your own job.
Can’t find a job? Make one! Offer your services as a babysitter, house sitter, pet sitter, lawnmower, or landscaper. Got other talents? Use them to make money. For leads on potential clients: check with your parents’ friends and coworkers.
5. Spend less.
Okay, “spending less” and “earning more” aren’t exactly the same thing, but both result in more money. Thankfully spending less is pretty easy, especially in the summer. Most towns and cities have free events and concerts. Plus the weather is getting better every day, so go enjoy the wild (and free!) outdoors. Skip restaurants, theme parks, and expensive vacations. Make your own fun!
Some advice from Yoda: