Face it, students, there's more to college than beer and parties. If you find yourself hunting for change in the depths of your couch — among the potato chip crumbs and perhaps an old sock or two — chances are you’re not handling your finances the right way. Being broke and living on campus can go hand in hand for most students, so it’s important you manage your money, and prepare for all your educational expenses.
With that being said, here are seven tips for effective financial planning for resident students.
Get a Student Checking and Savings Account
When you’re a college student, you’re eligible to receive plenty of discounts and benefits. Among the most advantageous of these benefits are free checking and savings accounts. Banks like to nickel and dime customers who have too many ATM withdrawals or who write too many checks. As a student, you can avoid these seemingly petty charges that add up quickly over time. Remember to sign up for overdraft protection, too.
Buy Used Books Online or Rent Them
As if tuition wasn’t expensive enough, now you have to worry about costly books. Depending on your major, your books could mean the difference between filling up on Hamburger Helper throughout the semester or starving on ramen noodles. To help cut costs, consider buying your books used from an online retailer like Amazon or renting them. If you buy them used, you can make some of your money back if the edition remains relevant (cross your fingers). And if you’re pursuing an online degree, you might have the advantage of digital materials for your courses which can save you money.
Here are few resource sites for textbook rentals:
Study Hard and Earn Good Grades
If your parents hammered it into your head since day one that your grades would matter, they were right. Not only do good grades result in high academic honors, but they can also lead to financial rewards — and not just in the future when you start your career. Studying hard and earning good grades will make you eligible for a plethora of scholarships and grants that can potentially take care of your tuition, leaving you with more money in your pocket and less debt after you’ve graduated.
Take Advantage of Your Summers
OK, so maybe you haven’t been studying hard and earning good grades. If that’s the case, then you’ll likely spend your summers in the classroom trying to catch up to students who have been on top of things. If you’re not tied down to your college campus during the summer, consider getting a part- or full-time job. Spending the summer at home shouldn’t just be about hanging out with your family and friends; you should work and save up, too.
Internmatch is a good website to check out if you're looking for a paid internship or an entry level job. If you’re worried that your summer job can hurt your Financial Aid, here is a great article on how your summer gig most likely won’t affect your aid.
Skip the Coffee Shop
Do you know what students rely on when they party too much, don’t get enough sleep, and try to ace that unexpected test first thing in the morning? That’s right, coffee. Although it might seem like a lifesaver, buying your coffee from a big coffee chain, like Starbucks, adds up. To find out just how much you’re spending, check out this coffee calculator. You might think you’re saving time by not brewing your own; however, think about how long you'll wait in a line to order that Trenta coffee.
Avoid Eating Out All the Time
Another expensive luxury while in college involves eating out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. OK, so maybe you’re not eating the recommended three meals per day, but that doesn’t mean you should spend your money at lavish restaurants like you’ve already graduated and moved up the corporate ladder. Like coffee, make your meals in your room or get a meal plan to enjoy the campus restaurants.
Find Compatible Roommates
Finding and living with roommates is a part of the traditional college experience. Believe it or not, you’ll save money by choosing people with whom you’re compatible. Although there’s no foolproof way to make sure you do, you should carefully pick your roommate(s). Not only will this selectivity help you avoid expensive and aggravating moves, but you’ll avoid running into problems that result from a roommate who eats your food or runs up the utility bill.
Earning a Bachelor’s degree while scraping by is no fun. Keep these tips in mind to help you save money.
The author bio: Lizzie Wann is the Content Director for Bridgepoint Education. She oversees all website content and works closely with New Media, Career Services and Student Services for Ashford University