The college years may be the most fun, but they are definitely not the most prosperous. It has always seemed to be a battle of opportunity costs for me. Do I go with the one that's cheap or the one that tastes good? Should I buy a bus pass to save gas money, or would it even equal out? Can I afford to buy that for my little brother's birthday right now?
You get it, right? I'm sure most of you have felt the same way at some point or another. I've thought long and hard about my last five years at school to bring you five tips on saving money as a student.
1. Shop wisely.
When it comes to buying clothes, be smart about spending. In the college towns I know of, there are great second-hand stores like Plato's Closet where you can find fabulous name-brand stuff for cheap if you dig. If you don't want to go with used, set aside time to scour your favorite stores' sales periodically. You'll have more luck if you go on a regular basis and are familiar with what the store is carrying. My other favorite is DownEast Outfitters, where I look for the discounted stuff from Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. Harley and I occasionally swap clothes that we're sick of, which is another great way to get new-to-you stuff for free.
2. Be textbook savvy.
Sometimes it seems like a better option to save time and get books from the bookstore, but that may also mean you spend hundreds of dollars. Consider trying used bookstores, buying from other students on the campus book swap for your school, or renting from online resources like Campus Book Rentals or Rent Back.
3. Dinner club it.
A few years ago my aunt and I came up with a cooking system that maximized benefits for both of us. We would cook yummy things at her house, like pizza, soups, and scones--we would make enough for me to take home a few servings of each to freeze, but there would also be leftovers for a complete dinner for her family. This way, I had access to obscure spices and other ingredients and we both had a chance each week to make meals ahead. I paid her about $25 each time, which was a great deal since I had real food to eat for about two weeks. If you don't have family, consider either organizing a dinner group with roommates or friends, or simply buying food in bulk to make freezer meals.
* Cut dryer sheets in half * Wash and rinse clothes in a cold cycle * Only eat out with coupons * Work out with deals through your university * Sign up for Groupon emails * Upcycle things like mirrors and shelves to decorate with * Put any one dollar bills you get into a jar to save * Don't grocery shop when you're hungry * Pack a lunch *
How do you save your pennies?