Tips for Saving Money as a Student
By Andrew Otis
, last updated June 25, 2011
The life of a poor student is one in which you pay an exorbitant amount for tuition while watching every penny, as saving money is essential to minimize your debt.
Food often can be a large expense. At school, it is typically best to avoid meal plans if you want to save money. Does your college town or city have a public or farmers market? Look for the type of public market where immigrants go to get cheap produce and meats, not where yuppie professionals go to buy organic and locally grown expensive food. Furthermore, find a cheap grocery store and look for what's on sale. If you have a Wegmans nearby you, look no further.
Restaurants and Bars
The best way to have a good time on nights and weekends is to buy your own party materials at grocery and/or liquor stores, but if you really feel the need to go out, it should go without saying, but always look for happy hours to get cheap drinks. Dive bars might not have the most sophisticated atmosphere or the best beer, but they are cheap. If you like to go clubbing, many clubs have an online guest list that allows you free entry into the club so you can avoid cover charges.
You can score significant savings if you go online to the websites livingsocial or groupon to get coupons to restaurants or local deals. Oftentimes livingsocial has offers where you buy a coupon that costs you $15 and is worth $30 or so in food and drinks at a good restaurant. That's an instant $15 savings for you and a nice night out.
One of the biggest things you can do to save money is move off campus. If you grew up near where you go to college then you can consider biting the bullet and asking your parents if you can move in with them. The average cost for room at a college can range around $6,000 dollars for two semesters. If you rent a house with three friends, your costs will be significantly lower than in the dorms. In cheaper places to live, like Upstate New York or in the Mid West, rent can be as little as $200 a month, plus utilities. If you go to school for nine months of the year and pay $300 a month in rent then you will pay only $2,700 for the school year, an immediate savings of over three thousand dollars.
Oftentimes you can find free entertainment in the city by looking online. There may be Shakespeare in the park or free jazz concerts. If you live in Washington D.C., for example, there's an endless supply of things to do in the city that are free.
If your school charges you to park on campus, as many do, find out how much it costs. You can easily save money by not having a car and instead biking or walking to campus. Buy a u-bar lock if you bike since bike theft is often rampant on college campuses. There are infinite ways to save, good luck and happy saving.