Ask anyone who has ever attended college and they’ll tell you the same thing “saving money as a college student is hard”. As you all may have guessed, but it really is.
Imagine being 18 all on your own and having no financial literacy to maintain a healthy budget.
Before this, you were home bread living with your mom and dad, everything down to your socks being paid for.
I was once in your shoes trying to figure out how I can save money while attending classes, paying rent, and holding down a job that pays minimum wage.
It wasn’t easy but towards the end of college I managed to save $3,675.42 which isn’t a lot but for an average college kid, it’s plenty.
My parents couldn’t afford college, so I did have some financial aid to help me but because my dad made “too much” I was given a small amount.
FASFA has a very weird way of quantifying what’s “too much” but will save that for another post.
1. Get A Job with Stability
Saving money in college requires one important thing that is essential “make money”, honestly, this should be done before graduating high school.
The type of job you get is important as it plays into long term success in and out of school.
Types of jobs you should apply for ( I’ll go through them in more depth in a later post)
Work for a big chain store – Homedepot, Target, Wholefoods, Banks, etc…
These sorts of jobs are great because they have a ton of benefits for part-time employees.
Companies such as these have flexible schedules for students, some provide college paid programs, they also provide 401(k) options and health insurance plans.
One aspect I love was the ability to transfer from one branch store to another store.
It’s really important if you attend a community college and your planning on transferring to a University in a different city or state.
Saves you a bunch of time from job hunting if you plan on making that move.
2. Live Off-Campus, It’s Cheaper
Most college kids tend to live in campus dorms the first year and yeah, although it can be fun it’s also damn expensive.
Living in off-campus housing will save you so much money you’ll be eating salmon with grey poupon instead of some shitty ramen.
The cost of living is extremely cheap and depending on your mode of transportation it can be just as fun.
I lived in a home with 4 other roommates we split the rent 5 ways. Each month the bill would come out to 335 per person this excluded light and internet bills.
I got my own room and we had no rules to live by except for the ones set by us.
The greatest part was as long as we kept the home in good condition, we were able to renew our lease year over year even after we graduated.
The key here is to have group friends that are all willing to pay rent and find a good deal on craigslist… that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
3. Go To University In An Inexpensive Area
Saving money as a college student requires that you go to school in a reasonably inexpensive area.
Let’s be realistic where you go to school is just as important as anything mentioned on this list.
Most cities found in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and pretty much any state not named New York or California would work.
Obviously, I’m painting a broad brush here. There are some areas where it can be expensive to live in like some major cities in the US.
There are pros and cons when choosing an area or university. Just factor in the price of living, some choose to ignore this when comes to making their decisions.
For some, the pros can outweigh the cons. I think it depends on what your goals will be after graduation.
I had a friend that went to NYU in New York City.
I thought the tuition alone was insane not to mention the price of living was high, but he lived outside of the city where it was more cost-effective to go.
He took New York’s public transportation and worked near his university.
There were a lot more opportunities for him, particularly in finance. So, there are plenty of exceptions to the rule.
If you do want to go to a university in a big city just be mindful of the prices and plan out your living.
4. Save Money On Groceries, Avoid Whole Foods
Yes, the headline above isn’t clickbait or some sort of attention grabber.
I know far too many students who get their financial aid money just to shop at whole foods and weeks later are on a daily regimen of ramen.
I’d be lying if I said Whole foods wasn’t a great place to get fresh veggies and good eats.
This is true but so does grocery stores like Walmart and aldi’s.
Throughout college, these were my number one grocery stores I’d go to.
Lots of good deals and cheap prices, especially Aldi which is great if you’re not into big named food brands.
I’d always have a list of prepped meals ahead a time and maintain a healthy budget when I was grocery shopping.
(TIP: Don’t grocery shop when you’re hungry you’ll literally buy more food than you need)
Once I was done grocery shopping, I’d prep my foods for the week. Friday was when I’d go out to eat and then do it all over again.
Planning was key to my strategy and I used sites like tasty to get new food ideas.
My breakfast was simple, I’d have eggs, cereal, or oatmeal with fruits these meals consumed my mornings.
Using bases like rice to get my carbs, chicken, and salmon for protein. I made all sorts of sauces with tomato paste and had a good portion of veggies.
Switching out different recipes and combinations every couple of weeks. Yup, I was the modern-day college chief at my house.
Also, the dollar store was and still is my best friend. If I needed cleaning supplies or household items it would cost a dollar.
Surprising right, so track down your nearest dollar store you won’t regret it.
5. Have A Good Budget and Goal
The last tip for saving money as a college student is budgeting. I know it’s easier said than done.
Here is a good way around bad budgeting skills, make daily and weekly goals.
An example “I plan on only spending this x amount today” or ” for the week x amount will be spent”, trust me it works wonders.
I’d tie this strategy with my overall goal for the week and month. I made sure to document money spent with the help of a journal.
(MAJOR KEY: I only dealt with a debit card that was sperate from my savings… no credit cards were used)
BALLING ON A BUDGET
Many of my friends struggled with budgeting pass a week. We’d constantly go out to bars and clubs on the weekends.
Towards the end of the weekend, everyone would be broke.
This changed when we started budgeting how we spent our money on the weekends.
When we’d go out, I made note of places that had a happy hour or free cover.
We also would pitch in as a group buying alcohol to pre-game or using ride-sharing services.
In my younger years before I turned 21, we’d take advantage of house parties.
To conclude saving in college wasn’t hard just keeping to a budget is.
Every month I’d look at my savings and project how much money I could save. Anything that I didn’t need and just wanted I removed.
I never wanted to sacrifice my college experience so that just meant I had to find other ways to save money.
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