They say that your college years are the best years of your life. They may also be some of the most expensive. As a new college student, whether national or international, you know that tuition can be incredibly costly, not to mention room and board, textbooks and other daily expenses. Now that you’re on your own, you may find yourself responsible for managing how and when you spend your money. It is important to limit your spending, but you do not want to sacrifice your social life either. How is it possible to have both?
To start with, you’ll need to have a frugal mindset. This does not mean you need to sacrifice fun in order to save money. It means knowing that you can have fun without spending a lot, and understanding that a little bit of saving goes a long way. Here is some advice for thinking more frugally:
Develop a Budget
- To figure out how much you should be spending, estimate your monthly expenses and subtract them from your allowance or income. Out of the amount that remains, determine how much you can put into savings and how much you’ll save for spending. Always overestimate your expenses so that you can put the leftover money into savings. Once you’ve made your budget, stick to it!
Spend Within Reason
- America may be a country of consumers, but that doesn’t mean you need to fall prey. Before you make any purchase, ask yourself if it’s something you really want or need. If you can easily think of something you’d rather buy, then it might not be worth it. For expensive items, try saving extra for a few months first to lessen the blow on your bank account.
- As a student, you are eligible for great discounts in many stores, restaurants, museums and venues. Colleges often have partnerships with local businesses that will allow you to shop or eat at a discount. Museums and venues typically offer lower ticket prices for students, giving you access to great arts and entertainment.
Land of the Free
- While it’s important to explore your college town or city, sometimes all you really need is to surround yourself with great company. Get together with your friends and watch a movie in your dorm, go to the dining hall together, check out a student play on campus or hang out on the quad when the weather’s nice. You’ll realize that you don’t need to spend a penny to have a good time.
Stay tuned for more smart strategies to help you save money throughout your college years!
Lindsay T. is a recent college graduate living in the Chicago area. She currently writes for Skyo, an online site that helps college students save money with cheap textbooks and flexible rental options. Visit Skyo’s site to learn more about how to buy textbooks online.