“Cha-ching” is one of the most familiar sounds we hear every day. That’s because we all have so many expenses in our lives, and saving money can be quite a challenge at times. This is especially true for financially-strapped college students who are doing their best to tread water while working toward a degree.
So, let’s take a look at what college students can do this summer – and year-round – to hang on to every last penny.
1. Rent your textbooks.
Taking summer classes to lighten the load in the fall? Instead of purchasing textbooks that you’ll only be using for a few months per course, rent them. Many on-campus and off-campus bookstores rent textbooks for certain courses, along with several online textbook rental sites.
It’s also worth trying to sell or trade in any recently used textbooks you no longer need.
Check out this textbook rental guide for more information.
2. Spend your money wisely on food.
Having dinner out every night might be tasty, but it’s expensive. So, budget yourself this summer and as much as possible on an ongoing basis when it comes to food. Find deals, coupons, and other discounts for restaurants. Only buy groceries you’ll actually consume.
If you get a college meal plan on campus, try getting one of the most affordable ones. Meal plans can take a massive bite out of any budget.
3. Find roommates if you live off campus.
Students who live on campus are typically paired up with roommates in on-campus residence halls. But if you reside off campus in an apartment or house, consider finding roommates who can help you significantly reduce your rent.
The summer is the perfect time of year to find roommates with whom you can live during the fall and spring semesters.
4. Find fun things to do at places that offer student discounts.
That cruise to Cancun or road trip to Panama City could be out of your budget. But if you find cool things to do around town or even within a few hours of where you live, you might be pleasantly surprised to find attractions that offer student discounts. Students can often receive up to 50% off at certain locations, so always remember to have your student ID handy.
Plus, many college and university campuses offer free or inexpensive events right on campus, such as movie nights, concerts, festivals, speakers, and workshops. Don’t forget to take advantage of those activities as well.
5. Dig through your stuff to find items to sell.
If you’re a younger college student, you might not be in possession of too many belongings. However, if there are clothes, electronics, textbooks, or other items piling up in the corner that you just don’t use, consider selling them.
Try using Craigslist, Poshmark, thrift stores, and other outlets to make a little extra money that you can put away for savings.
6. Only buy the course supplies you actually need.
If you’re taking summer classes, only plunk down money on specific course supplies and materials you’ll actually be using. Professors typically include the required supplies for a course within the syllabus, which you should be able to get your hands on before the course begins.
7. Open a savings account.
With a little more time over the summer, head on down to your local bank of choice and open a savings account for yourself. This should be a separate account from any checking accounts you already have. It’s never to early – or late – to start saving, and setting aside some money no matter what age you are can only help you enjoy a more stable financial future.
Credit unions are often a good financial institution for college students to start with.
8. Find out if you can test out of any required courses.
In many cases, incoming freshmen to a college or university can test out of certain general courses by taking CLEP exams. This can lead to huge savings on your tuition if you can literally cross off one or more classes. Not only that, but it can also expedite your degree coursework, potentially allowing you to finish a semester or two early.
There are plenty of ways you can cut your tuition expenses here and there. Start investigating them over the summer. Potential options include:
- The G.I. Bill for military students
- The American Opportunity Tax Credit
- The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit
- The tuition and fees tax deduction