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Top 10 Tips for Saving Money in College

Establishing healthy financial habits in college is good practice for life as a working adult, and there are lots of ways for students to cut costs while in college. Check out some of our top tips below.

  • Buy used textbooks. A single new textbook can cost several hundred dollars, but often these items can be purchased used through such outlets as Amazon, AbeBooks or the on-campus bookstore. When purchasing used textbooks — especially in subjects such as science, social sciences or math — pay close attention to the edition and publication date, as an older edition may contain completely different information from the one specified by your professor.

  • Purchase a coffeemaker. Those early morning lattes and late-night espressos can really add up over time. Studies have found that college students spend nearly $1,100 per year on coffee. Instead of making a beeline to the nearest coffee shop, consider the one-time expense of purchasing a coffeemaker for your dorm or apartment to cut back on those regular costs.

  • Take advantage of free food. In addition to the myriad on-campus events that happen all the time and provide free food and beverages, students may also consider working part-time at restaurants. In addition to standard wages and tips, many restaurants provide free meals to their employees.

  • Take advantage of student discounts. Hundreds of companies offer discounts especially for students, and many of them are significant. In addition to clothing stores such as J. Crew and Gap that offer discounts, Amazon Prime offers a free six-month membership, and technology companies including Apple and Dell provide percentages off for students with official school email addresses.

  • Stay on your parents’ insurance. Thanks to special mandates under the Affordable Care Act, students are allowed to stay on their parents’ or guardians’ insurance plans until age 26. This also can help with getting discounted prescriptions and low- or no-cost visits to the doctor.

  • Be strategic at the grocery store. It may seem silly, but there’s truth to the advice about never going to the grocery store while hungry. It’s easy to throw random things into a cart, but those little splurges can easily add up. In addition to shopping the sales, try to buy store-brand items when possible, and don’t forget to check the clearance bins.

  • Sell items you don’t need. Aside from selling old textbooks on sites like Amazon, eBay and AbeBooks, websites such as Poshmark and ThredUp also allow students to clean out their closets and make a profit. When getting rid of old furniture, technology, automobiles or household items, consider using sites such as Craigslist.

  • Cancel memberships. Rather than paying for Apple Music or Spotify Premium, use services like Pandora or the free version of Spotify. Instead of having your own memberships for streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Prime TV or HBO Go, consider sharing a single membership with friends and/or family.

  • Take care with credit. If you feel it’s necessary to have a credit card in college, be sure to get one that has no annual fee and the lowest interest rate available. Always make the payment on time (automatic payments are great for this) to avoid penalties or fees.

  • Limit spending on alcohol. Did you know that college students spend $5.5 billion on alcohol each year? If you’re a college student who enjoys drinking responsibly, find out when happy hours take place around campus or consider arranging a house party or game night so you don’t spend tons of money at a bar.

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