College life, as well as life after graduation, can bring about some great opportunities to work toward a successful career and future. However, these times can also come with financial difficulties and expenses that can be stressful and difficult to manage. Because of this, it’s important to look for ways to save money whenever possible. This will allow you to get through the more difficult financial situations that can come at this stage of their lives.
Here are some easy ways for college students and graduates to save money.
Cut back on expensive services
Taking a ride-share to go to an off-campus party? Looking to have food delivered to your dorm? While all of these are fun and great to indulge in every once in a while, they’re certainly not cheap either. The average cost of a ride is $25, while food delivery services typically include an additional charge of $5-$8 per order. These expenses can add up quickly, especially if you’re spending on them frequently.
Cutting back on unnecessary services or looking for lower-cost alternatives is an easy way to save more money. Instead of taking a ride, consider having one of your friends volunteer to be a designated driver to off-campus events. If you want to get food, look into on-campus dining services or buy snacks at the local convenience store.
If you do decide to utilize these options, remember to always split the cost amongst your friend group, which can help lower the prices significantly. You can do this by splitting the bills evenly, or by having one person pay and then having the group pay them back by sending money online using cost-sharing apps. Your friends will surely appreciate being paid back in a timely manner!
Manage your debts
Both students and graduates are going to have to tackle debt. This could take the form of student loans, credit card bills, or other debts they may have incurred during college, such as a car purchase. Unfortunately, managing debt isn’t easy, and it often feels like a challenge due to how quickly it can add up and accumulate interest.
Thankfully, there are several debt management strategies you can utilize to reduce your debt, or just make it easier to handle as you pay it off over time. One option is to use a debt consolidation loan, which will allow you to combine any loans you have into one single, easier to manage loan. While this loan may be a bit more expensive or have a higher interest rate, it is good for someone who’s looking to keep all their financial obligations limited to one payment.
You can also organize your debts by interest rates from highest to lowest, and then pay them off in order. This helps you knock out your most expensive debts first, giving you more money to cover the less expensive ones. This is called the debt avalanche method, which is in contrast to the debt snowball method, where you knock out your least expensive debts first, in order to build up momentum towards paying off your major ones. Whatever option you decide to go with, consider consulting with a financial advisor on campus and ask what they think the best options would be for you.
Keep track of everything
Keeping your financial paperwork together and tracking your spending can provide many benefits, both for managing your money on a day-to-day basis, as well as being prepared for financial events like tax season.
One benefit to a tracking strategy is that you are able to keep an eye on how much you’ve been spending. You can do this by utilizing budgeting spreadsheets and keeping track of both your weekly and monthly expenses. In order to start a budget in college, look at your past spending history! You can get a good estimate of how much money you spent on things like food, clothing, housing, etc. Then all you need to do is compare this to what your monthly income is, cut back where needed, and avoid overspending.
Tracking your financial paperwork also helps you prepare for tax season. When it’s time to file for your tax return, paperwork such as your W2 form (if you’re employed), any investments you have, as well as information about your student loans and expenses may be needed in order to get your return quickly and efficiently. Make sure you have a safe, secure place to store these documents, and have a few extra copies in case you lose one. This way, you’ll never be left looking for the right paperwork when it comes time to file your taxes.
Limit big purchases
College life inevitably includes bigger purchases, such as new furniture for your dorm or apartment, transportation, studying abroad, and other major expenses. While some big purchases are inevitable, there are also ways to reduce the amount you have to spend on them. One option is to rent things that you only need for a short period of time or pay on a use-by-use basis.
For example, some students prefer to take public transportation as opposed to spending money on a car, which may require taking out a major loan. Others look to the transportation services often provided on campus by many colleges. If you’re looking for furniture to decorate your apartment with, you can check services that allow you to rent furniture on a monthly basis for a low cost. This way, you won’t need to spend a ton of money on big pieces that you’ll need to move at the end of the semester. Instead, CORT Furniture Rental takes care of you from move-in all the way until move-out.
Look for discounts
In spite of the fact that spending money in college is almost certainly inevitable, you don’t need to spend full price on everything that you want to buy! Before making a purchase, take the time to plan ahead and find coupons or other deals. One great way to go about this is to use couponing apps, which automatically search for the best deals when shopping online and apply them directly to your purchase.
Another option is to look for secondhand items whenever possible. If you’re looking for new clothes to wear on a night out, instead of going to the mall and picking up a brand new outfit, take a trip down to your local thrift store and find some cheaper, vintage clothes to rock. You can even pick up apartment decor and other items like plates and silverware. Thrifting has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s no surprise, given how much you can save.
By sticking to a budget, cutting back, and looking for discounts, both college students and graduates can save money for their future and avoid overspending. While there will certainly be some roadblocks along the way, creating your own savings strategy and utilizing these tips will give you a strong foundation for your financial success.