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How To Save Money As A College Student

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The transition from school to college can be drastic. You suddenly get a lot of freedom to dictate your life and be your own master. No curfews by parents, flexible class schedules, and the freedom to spend money how you want to. However, this newfound freedom can carve a big hole in your wallet if you’re not careful.

Money management is a skill that will help you everywhere in life. And the best place to start is in college because that’s where you realize its importance the most. Partying every day, paying for extras you can afford but don’t need can deplete your resources faster than you can say “wait!”

Being a student is tiring, and expensive. So here are a few ways you can use money management skills to save money as a college student-

Start budgeting

If you don’t know how to make a budget plan, learn now. Budgeting is the simple act of keeping aside fixed amounts of money for every aspect of expenditure and savings. If you want to manage your expenses, start planning them beforehand. Set aside some money for expenditure on food, some for books and stationery, some for social life, and the rest in a piggy bank. Be strict with yourself and stick to the limits you have set for yourself.

You can download apps on your smartphone, or write down your daily, weekly, or monthly budget in a notebook. How you do it is your choice, just make sure to stick to it.

Have two bank accounts

This is a great way to save money, one that I personally recommend. Keep aside some money in one account, and use the other account for your expenditures. If you cannot trust yourself to stay away from the savings account, then get the debit card of that account blocked. I know it seems to be a little too much, but personally, this has helped me save a lot of money. So make sure to give it a try.

If you don’t want to block the debit card, set a high bank balance limit on the account. This way, some money will always be there in the savings account.

Get your allowance at a fixed time

Ask your parents or guardians to send you your allowance at fixed intervals of time. They may send your allowance once per month or once per week. But they should send it at fixed intervals, say on the same day every month. Tell them to only send the allowance on that day, and on no other day except if it’s an emergency.

Do this, instead of asking them for money whenever you want it. This will help you manage your money better, and save your parents’ hard-earned money from being spent on frivolity.

Make judicious use of campus facilities

Every college has certain facilities that students tend to neglect because it’s not “cool”. Well, unnecessary expenditure isn’t very cool either, so start making use of your college facilities. Drop that expensive gym membership and join your college gym/fitness club, which is generally free for students.

Most colleges also have cafes and food outlets that give a discount to students. Use these for your food cravings. Get a free membership of your campus library instead of an expensive one in some outside library. Use the campus conveyance to travel around instead of your high maintenance car/two-wheeler.

Skip the junk food

Let’s get this straight, nothing good has ever come out of eating junk. It’s neither good for your health, nor your wealth. So just skip it. Avoid it like the plague. Start making healthier choices. You don’t have to buy a trolley filled with Doritos and Oreos everytime you go to a grocery store.

If you are really craving a “junk” food, buy just that one item, and run out of there. Healthy food items like milk, fruit, veggies, and meat are cheaper than your pizzas and cheeseburgers. So make healthier choices (and cheaper ones!)

Buy stuff second-hand

You don’t need brand new things for survival in college. Second-hand things will suffice, even if they are a little unsightly. Course books in college are generally quite expensive, so try to get a second-hand copy from somewhere. It’ll be even better if you can find a free PDF for the book online or a cheap ebook.

Don’t waste money buying brand new things that you’ll only use for one semester. Save money on books and other such things, and buy things second hand wherever possible.

Pool your resources wherever possible

Ordering pizza? Share the bill (and the pizza) with a friend. Similarly, always go partying with a group of friends. Pooling your resources is a great way to cut down on your personal expenditure without too much compromise.

Learn how to pool your resources with others, and save the per head cost of whatever you are doing. Even when you are traveling somewhere, go with people, or in a carpool. If you book a cab with two people rather than alone, you will save two-thirds on the per-head cost. Sharing is caring, not just for others, but also for your wallet.

Learn how to say “no”

It is easy to be swayed under peer pressure in college to do something you don’t want to. But if you are only spending money to gratify your friends or look cool, you are just being a douche. Know it, process it, absorb it, and engrave it in your brain. You need to keep your priorities at the top and say no when necessary.

Stop spending money on things you don’t really want to take part in. If someone is forcing you, or pressuring you, tell them no. You don’t have to be rude, just forceful and persuasive enough to make the person stop. Stand your ground, and don’t get swayed by others. This may irk or displease the other person, but trust me, that’ll be short-lived. At least, it will be more short-lived than your regret that you spent valuable money on something you didn’t even ask for.

Differentiate between “need” and “want”

There’s a fine line between “need” and “want”. You need to learn how to differentiate between the two if you want to save money. You may want a new flavor of toothpaste, but you may not need it because you have some left. Similarly, you may want new woolen socks, but you may not need them because your old socks are perfectly fine. Do not spend on things you don’t absolutely need.

Learn how to live frugally as a college student. This is an essential life skill and will help you throughout your personal and professional life. You didn’t come to college to live a lavish, comfortable life. So give less priority to your “wants”, and learn how to live within (and below) your means.

Recycle and DIY

Recycle what you can, DIY the rest. Turn your old clothes into new outfits instead of buying something new. You can cut your old jeans and distress them to make shorts or ripped jeans. Try painting your old t-shirts, or stitching/cutting out patterns on it. Don’t spend money on the interior decor of your college room. Just go to Pinterest for ideas and DIY.

You can even use this idea for giving gifts to friends in college. Give them handmade gifts instead of expensive readymade ones. You will not just save money, but also get a lot of praise and appreciation for your creativity. Two birds killed with one stone, much?

Have a reason to save for

When you have a solid reason to save for, it makes money management a lot easier. This last tip is not just for college students, but for everyone else.

Plan a lavish trip with friends, and save for it. Or maybe use a new expensive dress for prom as leverage. Use any excuse available to you as a reason to save some money. Trust me, you will thank yourself for it, even if you don’t end up doing the thing you saved up for.

Money management in college is paramount for your survival. Juggling between priorities is difficult for students because of their busy academic and social lives. College is synonymous with “fun” and “partying”. But all these can take a toll on you if you’re not careful, especially with your wallet. So use these tips to maximize your monetary resources, and start saving!

Shubhi Srivastava
Shubhi Srivastava
A pen is my mightiest sword.

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