Everybody’s heard the stereotype of the poor college student, eating Ramen noodles for every meal and wearing the same unwashed clothes day after day. While money can seem tight during college, there are ways to keep your money from getting stretched too thin.
Know how much money you have and how much you’ll earn each month, and plan accordingly. Subtract what you owe each month in fees and bills, so you’ll know how much you can spend on groceries, gas and other necessities. Save as much as you can of what’s left over. It can also help to set aside money for entertainment, but not until you’ve set aside money for everything else—including savings.
Speaking of bills, get a calendar to keep track of due dates and paydays.
Use your meal plan
Use your on-campus meal plan if you have one. You’ve probably heard that food at dining halls is terrible, but that’s a myth. There’s always something good, and plenty of it. As an added bonus, dining halls have a great social atmosphere so they’re perfect for meeting people or spending time with friends.
Grocery shop intelligently
When grocery shopping, buy food in larger quantities that will allow for multiple meals. Instead of hitting up the vending machines between classes, buy granola bars, raisins or apples to keep in your backpack for a snack. Check out Snack Attack to see how snacks from the vending machines can add up over time, and read this blog for healthy snack suggestions.
Pay attention to sales at grocery stores and keep in mind that some stores give a small discount for using reusable bags. Make a grocery list and look online for coupons for the items on your list.
Cut back on entertainment spending
It’s important to unwind at the end of a long week and do something you enjoy, but it doesn’t have to cost money. Go on a walk or a bike ride, play a board game, borrow a DVD, book or video game instead of buying one, or go to a free event around campus.
Check out student discounts
Ask about student discounts at restaurants and businesses and always carry your student ID to provide proof. Services like Campus Cash provide coupons to many local establishments.
While college can be a huge financial burden, following these tips will keep finances from becoming too stressful so you can better focus on schoolwork.