College is expensive…heck, life is expensive if you don’t manage yourself wisely. Luckily, Brittany Lyons, a freelance write from Washington, outlines 9 ways to gain control of your finances in 2012.
With college growing ever more expensive and with cost of living rising, it has never been more important for college students to keep an eye on their funds. College is the first time that most students have been on their own, and even with help from your parents, it can be a little frightening keeping your money flow stable. Ultimately whether you are just taking a few classes or trying to complete one of the PhD programs at your university, trying make ends meet can be tough. Luckily, there are many tricks and tips for you to keep in mind.
CBS News suggests freelancing. While you might be holding down a part time job, consider getting your name out there by doing a small amount of the work that you really love on the side. For example, if you want to be a writer, consider looking into article writing services. The best part about writing for an online provide is that you have the freedom to take on as many or as few assignments you can fit into you schedule. Plus, by the time you graduate, you’ll have an entire portfolio of work to show future employers.
2. Utilize Coupons
Going out has plenty of attendant costs, and over time, it does add up. If you go out, clip coupons and go to places offering student discounts. You can also find creative things to do while staying in. For instance, use art supply store coupons to stay in and have an art party, or use DVD rental discounts to have an obscure movie night in.
3. Move Out of the Dorms
With very few exceptions, dorms cost more than simply getting your own apartment and cooking for yourself. While dorms are important as they provide many students with a transitional period from home to more independent living, they are also expensive for that reason. When you get an apartment, try living with roommates. Roommates cut down on costs significantly, allowing you to afford a better spot. You can even use group payment platforms like WePay to easily manage all your apartment bills.
4. Purchase Second Hand Furniture
Ideally you’ll be able to find a place that is unfurnished, as unfurnished apartments are significantly cheaper. However furniture is one of the biggest costs of moving into an apartment, so it’s a good idea to get your furniture second hand or at a severe discount by using coupons. In some cases, you will even be able to purchase furniture from the people who are moving out of the apartment that you are moving in to, which cuts down on time and labor for moving. You can search Craigslist or other local services to find inexpensive, used furniture.
5. Take Advantage of Public Transportation or Ride Your Bike
Leave the car at home. Most campuses are pretty walking/biking-friendly, and if you have a full class load and an on-campus job, you will rarely leave campus anyway. Another option is to utilize public transportation. Investigate bus and subway options; many universities even offer free bus passes to their students. If you have a car, limit how often you use it and for who. It can be tempting to offer everyone a ride, but those gas costs add up pretty quickly.
6. Watch On-Campus Purchases
Businesses take advantage of the fact that college kids are notoriously bad with money. Therefore, the closer you are to campus, the more likely it is that the prices are inflated. Skip out on quick snacks from the general stores or the snack shops nearby and walk a few blocks out. When you get closer to the edge of campus, you’ll find that there are plenty of stores that offer you better prices. Search for coupons online and offline to keep your spending low.
7. Borrow Instead of Buy Textbooks
Books are a major college expense, and there are several ways to bring the cost down – Check to see if your professors have loaner copies set-aside at the library. You can also share a set of books with another person in the class. Finally, try to purchase used editions of textbooks rather than new ones; the used copies may even have useful notes in them. If you don’t think you’ll ever need it again, you can also rent textbooks – besides, you can probably find the same information online.
8. Make Payments on Time
Stay on top of your tuition payments. If necessary, use smart phone apps and computer reminders to keep you on task. Similarly, be very careful about picking up credit cards. Some companies keep their interest rates very high, especially if they know that you are student. Late fees is a silly way to give your money away – You have to make the payment no matter what, why not make it on time?
9. Monitor Your Accounts & Spending
“What gets measured, gets managed” – You should always know the health of your bank accounts and have a decent grasp of your spending habits. Begin measuring what you spend your money on most to make an honest assessment of your lifestyle. Are you spending more than you’re making each month? You can leverage online tools or setup a physical system for yourself to monitor your finances. For a wonderful (free) online money management tool, try Mint.
College can be an expensive time in your life, but take a moment and remember that there are definitely ways to save yourself some cash no matter what you are doing.
What have you done to save or make a few bucks? Let us know in the comments below…
Brittany Lyons aspires to be a psychology professor, but decided to take some time off from attending one of the top online PhD programs to help people learn to navigate the academic lifestyle. She currently lives in Spokane, Washington, where she spends her time reading science fiction and walking her dog.