Let's face it: You're tired of eating ramen noodles for dinner, and debating between buying your biology textbook or eating for a week wasn't exactly what you had in mind when you set foot in the dorms. College life is expensive, and students need every advantage they can get when it comes to saving money on campus. Here are four tips every college student should swear by when it comes to saving money:
Rent or Buy Used Textbooks
One of the biggest mistakes college freshmen make is thinking their textbooks need to cost an arm and a leg. Usually you won't need to keep your textbooks beyond the semester, so renting textbooks can save you a lot of money. You can even access textbook rentals online, saving you both time and money. Buying used textbooks can help you scrape together some extra cash, too.
One of the things many students overlook is the savings potential in buying earlier editions of textbooks. Unless your professor explicitly states the need for the latest edition, it's not very likely that you'll have to buy it. Many textbooks have regular edition updates that can include something as trivial as the removal of a paragraph in a chapter, thus increasing the price tenfold over the previous installment. Do yourself a favor, and be careful about your textbook purchases. Make sure you're getting what is necessary for the course, but be smart about it, too.
I know, I know clipping coupons is a bit of a social faux pas. There's not much more of a buzzkill to a party than your friends seeing your discarded newspaper clippings strewn about your table. Trust me, though: If you want to cut out hundreds of dollars from your grocery expenses every year, there's no better way to do it than cutting out the savings straight from your freely delivered neighborhood periodical.
Now, you don't need to become Super Mom and end up spending $0.12 on 73 cans of pickled beets, but bringing along that snippet for $2.00 off a 6-pack of toilet paper could translate to paying for your breakfast the next day. Every little bit counts, and coupons are the way to go when you need to save some cash.
Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Allow me to tell you a true story about one of my very lucky experiences going out to eat as a poor college student. A new local pizza place had just opened up, and a few friends and I decided to try it out. We had a conversation with the owner about his experience in the neighborhood so far, and then having just learned about the strength of asking this question proposed the following to him:
"Do you have any student discounts?"
Hesitating for a moment, he proposed a combo deal for two slices and a drink on the spot. From then on, we frequented that spot and spread word to others, benefitting both the grateful owner and ourselves. Restaurants and shops in college towns are often thrilled to offer students a percentage discount due to the influx of traffic they know it can cause, and if you like to eat out, asking that one simple question can end up saving you quite a bit of cash in the long run.
Attend Campus Events
Socializing is a huge part of your college experience. Going to concerts, movies, parties and sporting events is a blast but why spend all of the money on them when you could have the same experiences for free?
Be on the lookout for campus bulletin boards, online postings, social media buzz and whatever else you can find that will highlight campus and local events. You'll typically find free or extremely cheap campus activities to enjoy, and students usually enjoy a hefty discount on tickets to college sports games. Take advantage of it!
It's true, college can be expensive. However, you don't have to live on potatoes and applesauce and forgo any fun for four years. If you practice some simple techniques, you can save money on the things you need, and even on the things you enjoy.