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How to Save Money in College

College is expensive. You probably already knew that.

Here’s what you might not know: Living at school also gets expensive.

Fortunately, there are ways to save money on campus so you don’t burn through your school year’s spending money by February.

Let’s get started.

1. Get a job

Well, this one is fairly obvious. When saving money, it always helps to have some cash coming in. That’s just one reason why having a job while in school can help.

Look for a job either on campus or off campus. On-campus jobs are particularly appealing because they’re easy to get to and can be a great way to meet other students. Plus, most on-campus managers are willing to work around your class schedule because they recognize that your degree is top priority.

Working in college is also a great way to stock your résumé with skills and experience that could be invaluable down the road. However, on-campus jobs can be limited, so start your search early.

Regardless of whether or not you work in college, it’s smart to work during your school breaks, particularly the summer. That way you can save up spending money for the upcoming school year and still have some cash on hand for summer fun. If you can work during the winter and spring breaks, even better.

2. Avoid new textbooks

New textbooks can be quite expensive, so look into buying them used or renting them. Used and rented textbooks are often in great shape and sometimes come with notes and important text highlighted. Asking students who’ve completed the class to sell or loan you their books is also a great way to save money. Just make sure the required textbook didn’t change.

Once you’re done with your textbooks, sell them! While the return on investment isn’t great, an extra hundred dollars at the end of a semester can mean a lot to a struggling college student.

3. Budget weekend spending

Set a spending cap for weekend activities and think of creative ways to spend less. Just don’t go too far to save money. One of the best parts of college is socializing with new people, so don’t stay locked up in your dorm to save a few bucks!

This is where a job can really come in handy. Even if your income is minimal and only covers weekend spending, that’s still a huge win to keep your bank account afloat during the semester.

4. Eat on campus

Take full advantage of your meal plan. There’s no sense in regularly spending money dining out when you have access to prepaid meals on campus.

If the dining hall food isn’t great, limit your dining-out dollars by making home-cooked meals instead. You could even make it an event where you and your friends cook a group meal together and divvy up expenses. Look for recipes online and rotate who hosts the event. Not only will you save money, you'll learn new culinary skills before you know it.

Try your hand at cooking! Not only will it cut costs, but it’s a valuable skill to have.

5. Ditch the car

Not all colleges let students keep cars on campus. Even if yours does, think twice before bringing your ride. It can be very expensive — there’s car insurance, gas money, maintenance and repairs, and purchasing parking passes for every semester. All those expenses add up to a ton of money.

Instead, save money and help the environment by using public transportation or riding a bike. And if you really need a ride somewhere, take a cab or use a ride-sharing service, like Uber or Lyft.

6. Monitor your spending

Tracking spending will help you maintain a steady budget. Apps like Mint or Mvelopes can be super useful tools for college students. They connect to your bank account and credit cards so you can track all spending, set savings goals, and even get alerts when you’ve spent too much.

What to remember

Managing in-college spending is a learning experience. These cost-cutting measures can help limit or monitor your spending so you stay within your means — without missing out on the fun of college.

More information

We are committed to helping you reach your potential. To learn more about our checking accounts for college students, click here.

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