Most students can relate to the “poor” college student stereotype. Between books, tuition and food, paying for college is expensive, and the troubled economy does not help. Though money is tight, there are still some simple ways to save.
The idea of shopping in consignment shops might not be appealing to some, but it can be an easy way to find everyday items for a fraction of the cost.
“If students want to save money, Goodwill is a great place to shop,” said Chris Ward, marketing and media relations manager for Goodwill. “Students can save on everything from clothing and furniture to new gift items and school supplies.”
Goodwill stores sell gently used, donated items. Though an item is no longer of use to one person, it could be exactly what someone else is looking for.
“Shopping at Goodwill is a treasure hunt,” Ward said. “You never know what you’ll find.”
Though the idea of cutting coupons out of a Sunday newspaper sounds more like an older person’s activity than one for a college student, coupons can help save money over time. From “buy one get one free” to “take 30 percent off your purchase,” it seems there are coupons for just about every store, every item and everyone.
Sophomore Victoria Rojas, a pre-med student, looks through various publications to hunt for coupons.
“I won’t go to a place if I don’t have a coupon,” Rojas said.
Web sites like coupons.com make it easier to find coupons because people can print them at home. The Web site has coupons to many stores, including entertainment stores and supermarkets.
Manage your money
Most students have gotten the speech from parents about managing money, and though it might sound like they are nagging, managing money is actually an important way to utilize limited amounts of money.
Credit card companies and banks are more than willing to add hefty fines and fees for going over the credit limit, so keeping track of expenses is helpful.
“The first thing I do is ask myself, ‘Do I need it or do I want it?'” said Jerry Joseph, a junior majoring in biomedical science.
Monitoring his spending is one of the best ways he saves money.
“I put my paychecks into my savings account right away,” Joseph said. “Then I set aside some spending money.”
Keeping receipts and tracking monthly spending habits can help save what valuable money a student might have.
Aside from tuition, textbooks are the most expensive thing students put money toward every semester. Buying used textbooks can quickly knock off a couple hundred dollars and save students a lot of money.
Rojas said she knows the benefits of buying used rather than new.
“I usually buy my textbooks at Books and More or online,” she said. “I want to see where I can get a better deal.”
The USF bookstore and Gray’s College Bookstore, among others, sell used textbooks. Many Web sites, including half.com, also help students find a good deal. Chegg.com can help save money because it allows students to rent textbooks rather than buy them.
Cutting back on food expenses does not have to mean eating only Ramen Noodles, but it is another way to help save money.
Cooking more and eating out less will help save cash in the long run, because one is more likely to get more for the same price by cooking at home.
Buying store brand items is another way to collect on the savings. For the most part, it’s hard to tell the difference between the store brand and the regular brand.
Rojas said cutting back on food expenses helps her save money.
“I’m trying to cook more and trying not to eat off campus very often,” she said.
Students with a meal plan should take advantage of it because anything left over at the end of the semester will be lost.
Finding cheaper ways to have fun can help save money and not compromise social life. Take advantage of various free activities on campus. Movies on the Lawn is a way to see recent movies for free, but if you still have your heart set on going to the theater, try to catch a matinee.
When going out with friends, find places that have deals, such as no cover charges or drink specials. But keep in mind that staying in can be just as fun as going out when you are with friends.
“If I don’t have the money, then I don’t go out,” Joseph said. “But my friends and I still usually find something fun to do.”