Even with scholarships and grants, college can be expensive. Nearly all college students, except those with rich uncles, are struggling financially. Here are ten tips to help you save some green on two of college’s biggest expenses.
College textbooks are one of the best-known college expenses. According to a study completed in 2006, the average textbook price was a stunning $56.24. Those of you who are in college can testify to the fact that those prices have not stopped rising. The frugal college student, however, has a number of opportunities available to get books for less.
1. Before even considering buying a book, ask around. Chances are, someone you know has the book already and will be willing to lend it to you.
2. If borrowing is not an option, buy your textbooks used. Many college bookstores stock used textbooks, as does Amazon.com and other online bookstores.
3. Hardcover books are often less expensive than their softcover counterparts because of weight and portability. If do not mind a little extra weight, you can save some money and get hardcover books.
4. Do you have last semester’s old books still laying around? Sell them! Many online marketplaces are offer excellent opportunities for used book sales. If you are not interested in the extra hassle of shipping and working with the customer, you can easily sell used textbooks to your college bookstore (But expect to get much less than you originally payed).
Another huge expense category for today’s college student is food. If you are like most humans, you have to eat often – at least three times a day. With wise planning, however, food-related spending can be reduced, and money can be saved.
5. Break the coffee habit! Even just one $3 cup a day will cost you more than $700 every year. Use Hugh’s Coffee Calculator to find exactly how much money you can save by cutting coffee. If you still want a daily mocha, at least make it yourself – you will still save some green.
6. While we are talking about drinks, avoid buying bottled water. Patronize your local tap water and drink for free. If the tap water tastes disgusting, invest in a high-quality water filter that will last a lifetime.
7. Want a cheap, healthy breakfast? Oatmeal is good for your body, your time, and your budget. Depending on how you cook it, oatmeal takes about two to five minutes for preparation. Even if, like most college students, you do not know a frying pan from a roasting pan, you can still easily make your own oatmeal.
8. Avoid eating out! Whenever possible, prepare your own food. It is unbelievable how much you can save by not eating out. Not only do you save money on the actual meal, but you also avoid transportation expenses, tipping costs, and the temptation to buy unneeded extras.
9. Collect coupons and follow the local sales. Not only will you save money, but you will also enjoy a more varied diet. Avoid shopping at upscale markets like Whole Foods. When you shop there, you must pay extra for the pleasant environment.
10. If you live on campus and pay for a meal plan, use it! Some meal programs do not restrict you from taking food to go and eating as many meals as you want.
By being as frugal as possible, you can attend college on a much lower budget than many think is possible. Of course, these ten tips barely scratch the surface on the topic of frugal college life.
What is your favorite way to save money in college? Please share it in the comments.
Photo by scui3asteveo.
If you like this article, please sign up for free weekly email updates.
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.
In accordance with FTC guidelines, I state that I have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.
Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. I do my best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.