College can be one of the most fun and exciting times in your life.
There is always a new event being held on campus or a student organization to join. However, it can also be one of the most stressful times of your life. Most college students don’t have a lot of cash flowing into their checking accounts. For many students, money made from part-time jobs goes to tuition or bills. So that doesn’t leave a lot of funds left over for recreation and entertainment. But don’t worry. It is possible to live your best life even when you are on a college budget.
We’ve put together a list of five hacks for living frugally and still having fun. These tips will leave you with a healthy bank account and a great college experience.
Sign Up for a Student Advantage Card
Enjoy discounts on school necessities
Want to enjoy year-long discounts and savings? Of course, you do! When you sign up for the OCM student advantage card, you are connected with discounts up to 50% off at over 10,000 locations for travel, textbooks, clothing, technology and more! Included in the student advantage card is a free snack bag containing ramen chicken noodle soup, laffy taffies, smarties, popcorn, and a chamomile tea bag.
It’s no secret that textbooks and electronic devices are pretty pricey. But because they are necessities, you can’t skip out on purchasing them all together. Thankfully, there are resources, such as the OCM student advantage card, that offer discounts on school supplies. Saving money on textbooks and electronic devices will give you a little wiggle room in your budget and even allow you to put aside money for special occasions.
Go Thrift Shopping for Clothes and Furniture
Live in style without breaking the bank
Thrift shopping is a growing trend among members of Generation Z. Not only is it more affordable to go thrift shopping, but it is also better for the environment. Did you know that the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothes per year? By choosing pre-owned items over newly produced ones, you are effectively lowering your carbon footprint.
Many of the clothes being sold at thrift shops nowadays are trendy and in-season. You can also find some great decorations and furniture for your dorm! There are also a variety of options you can choose from when it comes to thrifting. Online thrift stores such as Poshmark and ThredUP sell gently-used brand name clothes. Do you have any clothes you are looking to get rid of? Poshmark and ThredUP both offer features that allow you to sell items through the website.
Salvation Army and Goodwill also offer great deals on clothes. You can donate gently used clothes at both stores. Some universities also have thrift stores on campus for students. For more high-end and designer clothing, check out your local shops nearby. Many chain stores and privately owned shops sell upscale clothing to customers.
Track Your Budget to Prevent Overspending
Practicing healthy financial habits now will help you later in life
If you have never created a budget for yourself before, that is okay. Everyone has to start somewhere. First, start by focusing on fixed expenses such as rent, food, gas, and school supplies. These are the necessities that you have to set money aside for. Once you have those sorted out, you can budget for dining out or going to the movies. Try looking at past bank statements to determine the average amount of money you spend in each category. Doing this will also help you figure out what expenses you can afford to cut back on.
There are a variety of strategies you can employ to help you follow your budget. You can write out your budget on a spreadsheet and update it whenever you spend or earn money. For busy college students like yourself, however, it can be challenging to remember to update your spreadsheet. Apps like Mint and Clarity Money help you set a budget and automatically track your expenses.
Looking to save money or start investing? For a small monthly fee, Albert will automate your finances. By combining human insight with cutting-edge technology, Albert can automatically put money aside in a savings account, invest money, and alert you when you overspend.
Earn Some Extra Pocket Cash on the Side
Try out these unique methods to make money
Not everyone has time for a part-time job, and that’s okay. Your primary focus in college is to study and build a strong resume for your post-graduate endeavors. If you are able to obtain a part-time job, great. If not, there are a few ways you can earn extra cash without having to sacrifice study time or a social life.
Side gigs such as babysitting or dog walking are great one-time opportunities for earning money. Depending on the needs of the client, these jobs may only take a few hours out of your day. Thanks to the growth of food delivery apps like GrubHub and Postmates, you can also earn great tips delivering food on the side. Selling used clothes and electronics can also give you some extra padding in your bank account. You should also see if your school offers money for participating in surveys or academic studies. While you won’t be rolling in dough after completing them, you will have some extra pocket change for the next time you go out on the town.
Take Advantage of Your Student ID Card
How to go out without spending little, or any money at all
Many universities hold free events, such as a spring concert or a guest speaker for students. All you need to bring with you is your student ID. Attending these events is not only great for your checking account, but it also helps you stay active and connected to your university community. These events may sometimes offer free gifts, such as t-shirts or water bottles, and meals just for going!
Campus events also provide an opportunity for branching out and trying new things. See if your university offers free admission to shows or sports games. Many local museums and shops offer free or discounted prices for students. You can also look into joining organizations such as outdoor clubs or art clubs, as they sometimes offer free admission to group events. You may be pleasantly surprised to see what your university offers you for free.
Learn How to Practice Self-Control
Sometimes, you have to say “no” to spending money on certain things
As delicious as Chipotle might be, those meals can add up. Dining out is easy and enjoyable, especially if you live in a dorm without a kitchen or you simply don’t have time to cook. However, restaurant meals can get quite pricey and can leave a real dent in your bank account if you are not careful. Even a daily trip to Starbucks can quickly add up. If you are on a meal plan, take advantage of it whenever possible. Instead of dining out every day, learn to say “no” to yourself and eat a meal on-campus. Instead of grabbing a coffee at your favorite cafe every day, brew your coffee at home or purchase one at school with your meal plan.
Saying “no” to things can be hard. A night out at the bar with friends sounds a lot more fun than staying in with your textbooks. But if you don’t learn how to practice self-control now, it can have harmful short-term and long-term consequences. Of course, it’s okay to treat yourself every now and then. The key is to practice moderation and to stick to your budget as closely as possible.
Live with roommates
Roommates aren’t always bad, especially if they happen to be your friends
Single dorms and apartments can get pretty pricey. If you live off-campus, you will have to pay for utilities and wi-fi along with your rent. You may also have to settle for smaller places to avoid breaking the bank. With roommates, you can save money on rent, bills, and apartment expenses. You can also afford larger apartments since you don’t have to handle the rent all by yourself.
Roommates are also great for splitting up the chores. Don’t have time to go grocery shopping? Create a rotation for grocery shopping trips. Need to split up the cleaning? Have each roommate choose a designated area to clean.
Living alone can also be lonely. With roommates, there is always someone around to hang out with. Whether you need a study buddy or someone to go to a concert with, your roommate can become your go-to person for going out. If you aren’t already friends with your roommate, that is okay! Even if you don’t become best friends with them, it is always nice to know there is someone else around.
Living on a tight budget is always challenging. Juggling schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and a social life becomes all the more difficult and stressful when dealing with limited funds. But with these tips and tricks, you can live frugally while still being able to go out and enjoy your college experience. What tips do you follow for living your best life in college? Let us know in the comments!