Recently, I wrote about ten ways to save money on two of college’s biggest expenses – books and food. Today, I will explain how to save money on two other large expenses – electronics and travel.
In 2006, the average college freshman spent $1,200 one school supplies; a large percentage of which was spent on electronics. Because technological gadgets can become such a money sponge, it is a good idea for look for ways to cut costs in this expense category. Besides the obvious options of buying less and buying used, here are six ways to cut your technology costs.
1. Free Wi-Fi – Many colleges offer free wireless internet access in multiple locations across their campus. Unfortunately, this free Wi-Fi is generally not offered in the dorms, so you must pay if you want to access internet from the comfort of your own dorm room. By only using the free Wi-Fi, however, you can save hundreds of dollars every year. If you do use public Wi-Fi networks, read how to keep you computer secure on public networks.
2. Computer Software – Another large cost for college students is computer software. However, this cost can be almost entirely eliminated in three steps. First, get free or open-source software whenever possible. For example, instead of paying for an expensive office suite, download OpenOffice.org for free! It is amazing how many free programs are available. In fact, you can even get an operating system, Ubuntu, for free! Another option is using free online programs. A good example of an online program is the Google Docs office suite. Finally, if you can’t find if for free, be sure to look for student discounts. I have heard of people purchasing Windows Vista through their university store for as little as $20!
3. Protect Your Electronics – Electronic equipment can be damaged in many ways. You must defend your computer against everything from semi-innocent pranksters to online spy-ware creators. To protect your electronics from cyber-damage you should install some sort of internet security. Many colleges offer free internet security programs to their students. To protect your electronics from prank-playing roommates, you should password protect you computer and other gadgets and keep them in secret, secure places.
4. Use VoIP For Phone – Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a relatively unknown technology that enables people to use their internet line for phone calls. VoIP saves you money in two ways. First, it is normally much less expensive than normal phone contracts. In fact, you can cut as much as 80% off you phone bill by switching to VoIP. In addition, most VoIP contracts come with unlimited calls in the US and Canada – that means no more expensive long-distance calls! This is especially useful for college students who often live far away from their family and friends. For more information read Voice Duck’s VoIP provider comparison chart.
5. Limit Cell Phone Use – If at all possible, do not use your cell phone! By saving your cell phone for emergencies (real emergencies!), you can cut a lot off you cell phone bill. Notice, I did not say to throw out cell phones entirely. On the contrary, cell phones are very useful, but they can also easily be overused. Find a cheaper cell phone plan, use fewer minutes, and communicate more via email, online chat, and your main phone instead.
6. Limit Texting – At an average cost of ten cents each, texting on cell phones is a seemingly small cost that can quickly add up. For example, it is not uncommon to hear of people texting 50 times a day. That would be a cost of $150 a month! You can cut these costs by getting a cell phone plan with unlimited texting, but even that is expensive. In addition, too much texting can easily destroy useful study time. Therefore, limiting texting saves you both much-needed money and important study time.
Most college students travel many times a year. For example, the average college student travel home at least twice a year. In addition, many scholars visit foreign countries multiple times throughout their college years. All this travel can get quite expensive. Using the following four cost-cutting methods, college students should be able to greatly reduce their travel expenses.
7. Student Discounts – Many discounts are available to students traveling by bus or plane. In addition, steep discounts can be found for hotel rooms and car rentals. Most of these discounts can be obtained by planning ahead or simply asking for discounts. Visit Student Universe to find student discounts on plane tickets, bus passes, car rentals, and hotel costs.
8. Carpool – If you travel by car, look for fellow students traveling to the same part of the country. This way you can split the costs and travel for much less. However, you do need to be careful who you choose for your traveling companion. A wrong choice can make for a difficult, disappointing trip.
9. Travel Less – This is the most obvious method – simply travel less often. For example, instead of paying hundreds of dollars for an expensive trip during Spring Break, volunteer or find a quality internship. Either alternative will look better on your resume…and on you budget!
10. Stay Local – This can be true in two ways. First, instead of traveling to distant locations, explore your local options. National Parks, local museums, factory tours, and historical monuments all are great places to visit. The second way that you can “stay local” is by attending a college near your hometown. This will save you money when you travel home; plus, you can get lower tuition costs by attending an in-state public university.
Hopefully these ten tips will help you cut costs and save some money. How have you saved money in these areas?
Photo by Allan Ferguson.
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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