Have you ever checked your bank statement and saw that you spent $60 on Uber, $150 going out to eat and $75 on your new fall wardrobe in a month? Yikes! Cue the big sigh and panic. You may have thought, "how am I going to pay my bills, put gas in my car and buy textbooks for the class I've just enrolled in?"
When you break down your expenses into categories such as food, transportation, incidentals, etc, you might be surprised how much you're actually spending. Think about how many hours you had to work for each transaction you made. Was it worth the long hours standing on your feet working retail or running around bussing tables? Hmm.... All of those "little" expenses add up and make a huge difference!
It's time to come up with a plan to minimize spending, so here are our tips for budget conscious college students.
#1 Rent your books
Rent your textbooks instead of buying them from the bookstore. Websites like Chegg, Bookrenter and Amazon often provide better deals than the bookstore. Renting can save you tons on textbooks. On average, students are spending $1,250 on books per academic year! Unfortunately, there are some majors that don't allow you to avoid the cost of books. If you choose to rent your books, don't wait until after the semester starts; books do go out of stock and then you're left paying the bookstore double or even triple the price of what you thought it was going to cost. Don't forget to return your books before the deadline; otherwise you'll be hit with a late fee!
#2 Ditch your car
Leave your car at home because it can be one of your biggest expenses. Insurance, gas, repairs and oil changes add up! Is there a shuttle or bus system that will allow you to get around campus and town? Use public transportation when the opportunity allows. Select cities give out student discounts or even allow students to ride for free! If you have clinicals or an internship, it might be more difficult to leave your car behind, but by cutting back on car expenses, you'll be able to save more money.
#3 Make meals with friends
Is food one of your biggest monthly expenses? Going out to grab a bite to eat or some drinks is one of our generations biggest money suckers. Try to offset the cost of food by eating in with a group of friends. Get together and create a weekly meal plan, head to the grocery store, and whip up some delicious food. Ask the clerk at the grocery store if you could split up the bill or Venmo each other if one person needs to cover the upfront cost. Don't have any meal inspiration? Check out our blog for budget friendly meals for college students.
#4 Move off campus
If you're a junior or senior, move off campus with roommates. Off-campus living tends to be more cost-effective in the long run. Think about it... you split monthly rent, utilities, and maybe even groceries! Break this down and it's significantly cheaper than living in the dorms. One major pro to living off campus is that you aren't required to pay one big lump sum up front. How nice is that?
#5 Don't charge your card
Don't break out your credit card if you can't afford to. You don't want to be spending money that you don't have, right? Leave credit available for emergencies. Anything that you actually need you should be able to fund out of your checking account. Keep in mind that your credit history can make or break your finances. If you want a loan in the future , keep in mind overusing your credit card and racking up debt you can't afford to pay can have an impact on your credit history.
Follow our blog for more tips on how to cut down your costs, build up your savings, and become a budget conscious college student.