There are tons of ways to save cash, some of which you may never have considered!
How Students Can Save Money in College
College is an exciting time in students’ lives. Students learn about new subjects and explore their career options in a safe, knowledge-based setting. However, it is important college students also begin to form healthy financial habits in college. Too often, students that start off on the wrong foot make poor decisions later on, especially when it comes to their finances. Here are some ways students can save money in college and use their money in smart ways. These methods have worked for a number of students and are a good way to usher in adulthood and responsibility.
Purchase Second-Hand Supplies & Textbooks
Many students want all new supplies for their dorm room. This can cost students and parents a lot of money and frustration when the bill arrives. Thus, consider borrowing and buying used as strategies to save money in college:
- Buy items like furniture, second-hand. You may find good second-hand supplies like coffee tables or lamps at consignment shops or garage sales. You might even have these supplies at home and can easily transport them with you to college.
- Talk to family and friends and see if they have any supplies lying around you can buy at a lower cost. You never know when an old desk can become a study companion at college!
- Bring materials and supplies you already have. Your pillow from home will work just as well at college and decorative items like photos or pictures you wish to hang up might be suited for your dream dorm room design. Additionally, bringing items you already own may help when you feel homesick at college. It is always a better option to add a touch of home to a dorm room rather than shopping for brand new items at stores.
- Read our post on how to sell textbooks back online for cash.
Use Meal Plans
Most colleges require students to purchase a meal plan as part of their room and board. Even commuter students that live at home or have an off-campus apartment may be required to have a meal plan in order to keep their enrollment status. Meal plans are often grandfathered into costs and are difficult to avoid. Here are some tips for strategically using a meal plan to help save money in college:
- The meal plan is typically already paid for as a set number of meals per week or in points for food and beverage items on campus. The school may offer a combination of both of these options in their meal plants. Students do not have to spend extra money on meals with meal plan options, which is a benefit for those students that do not work while in school.
- Colleges have begun focusing on healthier meal options. This helps students avoid calories and unnecessary spending on unhealthy foods they might be tempted to buy off campus.
- Check your school’s policy on meal plans and any restrictions, such as times the cafeterias might be closed. This can help you plan your schedule better and make plans with friends to meet on campus for meals.
Check out even more advice on how to save money on food in college.
Avoid Using Credit Cards
Credit cards are readily available on college campuses and can easily lead students down to a dangerous path of increased debt and frustration. Avoid using credit cards or being cajoled into signing up for one while on campus. The benefits the salesperson might tell you at the table will not outweigh the cost of high interest rates.
- If you come on campus with a credit card, use it sparingly. Students typically have a parent as a cosigner on credit cards, so overuse of credit might harm the parent’s credit score, too.
- Avoid using credit by leaving the card out of your wallet altogether. Store it in a safe place, such as in a small safe with a lock, so you are not tempted to use it on a regular basis. If you must use credit for purchases, pay the debt off immediately the next month.
It may be challenging for students to save money in college, but it is not impossible! Following these steps will ensure many dollars (and headaches) saved during your college experience!
We love that you want to sell your books to us! It’s a winning situation all around: you clear space and get cash and we sell your books to others who want to read them. Less waste is sent to our landfills as the lifecyle of each book is expanded. But have you ever thought about all of the other things lying around your house that you don’t need? What about those used electronics?
Well now thanks to our friends at BuyMyTronics.com you can recycle your electronics for cash. BuyMyTronics is an electronics buyback company where you can sell your used electronics including iPods, iPads, smartphones and digital cameras. Check them out here and earn some cash for living green.
This past November I had the opportunity to attend a one day simulcast of Dave Ramsey’s Entre-Leadership. It was inspiring and motivating, and I brought back a number of concepts to share with my team at Cash4Books and MKZbooks.
It occurred to me that this is great material to also share on The Green Frugal, as there are a number of tips on credit, debt, savings, purchasing, and more.
Here are a few of the highlights from the Dave Ramsey Simulcast. The debt snowball was not covered specifically in the simulcast, but I still wanted to mention it here as it is classic-Ramsey material:
- Avoid risk when making large purchases. Buy USED whenever possible. Do you really need a brand NEW car? A brand new refrigerator? Washer/dryer? Couch? Use craigslist.org to find some great buys on used items. Or, check your local thrift store. I was just at the Hillsboro Salvation Army with my brother-in-law Jordan, and they had a special going with 50% off everything in the store! He got a great deal on a couch.
- Try the Debt Snowball technique. Many Americans are in debt… some of us severely in debt. How do we get out of debt? One technique is to take an inventory of every debt you have. List them out on a piece of paper in order of the lowest balance owed to the highest balance owed. Next make the MINIMUM payment on EVERY debt EXCEPT the one on the top of the list. For the debt on the top of your list, pay the most that you can reasonably afford. After you pay off the first one on your list, take your pen and cross it off. Then attack the next one on your list. Crossing them off will give you quick “wins” and motivation to keep going until they are all paid off. The money you gradually save on not having to make all the debt payments is snowballed into more money to attack the debt at the top of your list.
- Pay CASH. Cut up those credit cards! Or, you could freeze them in a giant block of ice so that you always have a “cooling off period” if you struggle with impulse purchasing. Debit cards are too easy to use–so, don’t use them. My wife, Breanne, and I have found that it works best for us to budget with cash. She takes cash out of the bank every week and uses it for groceries and other regular expenses such as gas for the car. Many of our bills are paid through online bill pay, so there is no need to budget cash for those. We rarely use a debit card and we no longer have personal credit cards (we haven’t for years).
- Budget your money. This seems cliche, but it is REALLY important to have a personal budget. I’ve uploaded an Excel spreadsheet to help you get started: Personal budget.xls
If you would like to see my PDF presentation of Dave Ramsey Entre-Leadership highlights and ah-ha moments, I’ve made it available as a link below. I showed this presentation to my Cash4Books and MKZbooks team members!
Holidays can be a stressful time for people. How and when are you going to get all your shopping done?! The key to surviving the crazy holiday shopping rush is to plan ahead, and you can walk away with hundreds of dollars in savings.
As everyone knows, this year Friday the 26th after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday” where brick and mortar retailers experience stampeding customers, 4 a.m. openings, and mad sprints to the electronics department, not to mention a massive increase in sales. With the economic downturn over the past few years, big box stores have gotten more aggressive with their offers, which means big savings for you. But that’s not your only day to save. The following Monday, termed “Cyber Monday” (November 29th this year) is when online retailers post their version of door-buster deals.
How do you find out about all of these great savings? Besides getting on the big box retailer mailing lists, you can subscribe to their email lists as well. But to get a more comprehensive view (and not get inundated by junkmail and spam) I would suggest going to one of many websites dedicated to consolidating the many retailers’ deals into one location. Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals can tend to be electronics focused when looking at Target, Walmart, or other big box retailers. If you have a favorite store in mind and can’t find their deal, just ask them! Below are just a few examples of websites found when doing a quick search for “Black Friday deals”:
Cyber Monday is the other huge holiday (online) shopping day where you can find ridiculous deals. If you are looking for mid-priced electronics especially computer accessories, digital cameras, and video games then pay attention to the Cyber Monday deals. Often, free shipping is part of the online retailer’s offer. In order to really “win” with any of these deals, it’s important to pay attention to any fine print details. As with the Black Friday websites, these are websites entirely dedicated to posting these deals. Here are just a few found when doing a simple search for “Cyber Monday deals”:
Outside of these two big days there are literally hundreds of websites you can utilize to save serious cash. Popular ones include coupon websites where coupons are posted by consumers as well as businesses. Some of the more popular ones include:
Two of the rising stars in the online discount world that have given it a unique twist are two of my favorites -Groupon.com & LivingSocial.com. You can sign up for huge deals offered by local businesses. These deals are always substantial discounts, with 50% off the product or service being the norm.
As you navigate the madhouse that is holiday shopping, try to shop consciously by keeping an eye on what’s green, sustainable, local, and still affordable. Remember that shopping local supports your local community.
(Note: Websites mentioned here are not endorsed by McKenzie Books Inc. and are only provided for informational use only. There is no benefit to McKenzie Books Inc. for mentioning or linking to these websites.)