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10 Easy Ways to Save Money in College

It’s no secret that college isn’t cheap. Tuition, text books, and groceries alone make it hard to fathom scraping together enough cash to see a movie with friends on the weekend. Yes, college does come with a bunch of costs, but don’t let those costs bring down what should be some of your most exciting years.

Here are 10 ways to save money in college this semester that will help you spend less time staring at an empty bank account, and more time living a comfortable college life.

1. Build a Budget (and stick to that budget)

In order to save money in college, you need to know how much money you have in the first place – then you need to know how much of it needs to be committed to unavoidable expenses like food and bills. Building a good budget helps keep your arms around your funds and gives you a better idea of exactly how much spending money you may or may not have left over.

2. Get a Job

It’s hard to save money when you don’t have a steady flow of it coming in, which is why a part-time job is generally a good thing to have in college. Is transportation an issue? No worries, some of the most valuable and easy-to-land jobs can be found right on campus. Almost every area of every college hires student workers to help keep the university running, meaning odds are there’s at least one job you can find that relates to your degree in some way.

3. Take Advantage of Campus Facilities

How much does your membership for the gym across town cost? What about that brand new computer you just had to have? The truth is there are a lot of perks that come with tuition that many college kids don’t take enough advantage of. A good rule of thumb is this: if it’s offered on campus to use for free, there’s no need to pay for it somewhere else.

4. Get Better at Buying Books

According to The College Board, the yearly books-and-supplies estimate for the average student at a four-year public college is about $1,200. But do you really need to buy all those books? Not always. In many cases, the books you need can be found for checkout in your campus library. Many professors also keep a personal copy or two specifically for lending out to students when needed. If all else fails, shop around online for the best deals.

5. Use a Free Checking Account

You have enough bills and fees to worry about while you’re in college. Don’t let any of them be tied to your bank account. While free checking accounts may be harder to come by these days, they are by no means extinct. SCCU Free Checking promises no minimum balance fees, no transaction fees, and no monthly maintenance fees.

6. Don’t Get Greedy With Student Loans

It’s hard to think about now, but you will be paying off your student loans one day. All of them. Plus interest. So while that day still might be a ways off, you can help yourself now by limiting the amount you borrow. Accept only what you need and maybe even a little less if you think you’ll have enough leftover dollars to contribute to your tuition now.

7. Avoid Credit Card Sharks

There’s a good chance you’ve already seen these guys preying around popular areas of your campus – vendors offering free merchandise to students who apply for high interest credit cards. Sure, that new t-shirt may be pretty cool, but you know what’s not cool? Paying off that credit card debt for the next couple years because they trapped you in the fine print.

8. …But Don’t Be Afraid to Build Good Credit Now

That being said, building good credit at an early age is still very import – it just has to be done the right way. Find a low risk, low interest credit card and only use it for small, regular purchases like buying groceries before immediately paying off the balance. This simple but effective strategy can go a long way in building good credit.

9. Consider Dorm Life vs. Off-Campus Life

If you’re not lucky enough to enjoy the savings of living at home with your parents then you’ll need to sleep somewhere. Many schools require first year students to live on-campus, so there isn’t much wiggle room there. You should, however, be weighing the option of moving off campus as soon it it’s presented to you. If you find it will be cheaper to live off-campus, keep in mind things like how far you’ll be from school, how secure you feel the neighborhood is, cable and Wi-Fi bills, and utility costs.

10. Protect Your Personal Info

No one is ever 100% safe from fraud. Yes, that even includes a tech-savvy college student like you. In fact, high levels of social media and online shopping usage means a college kid’s personal information is being transferred around the internet at a pretty frequent rate, making them prime targets for different types of fraudsters.

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