As summer comes to a close and the fall semester begins, college students are feeling the crunch. Hours previously spent making money are now devoted to attending lectures and tackling homework. But just because school is back in session doesn’t mean the bills will stop coming.
Hoping to make your summer savings last? The following tips – including tracking down student discounts and building a budget – can help reduce spending and make your savings last far beyond the summer months.
- Search for student discounts
A student ID offers plenty of opportunities to save. Take full advantage by doing your research. For example, if you’re heading out for dinner, visit the restaurant’s website to determine if it has any special discounts for students. Some days of the week may offer better savings than others, so be ready to adjust your plans accordingly. The same goes for museums and shops around campus.
Regardless of where you end up going, remember not to leave your student ID behind. After all, most restaurants and retailers will ask to see it before applying the discount. Make sure you – and everyone else in your party – has their student ID before heading out.
- Skip the coffee shop
Spending a couple of bucks for coffee each day may not seem like much. But over the course of a semester, those costs can begin to add up. Invest in a coffee maker or tea kettle to satisfy your caffeine craving without breaking the bank. An extra five minutes in the morning is all it takes to start saving.
Don’t have the cash to buy a reliable coffee maker? Consider splitting the cost with a few roommates. Better yet, scour Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to see if there’s a coffee maker another student is looking to get rid of before moving.
- Try a budgeting app
Set some goals – and stick to them – with the help of a budgeting app. No matter how large or small your savings account is, a budgeting app can make it easy to monitor where every last dollar goes. Simply link your credit or debit card to the app for a detailed breakdown of your spending.
Perhaps even more importantly, budgeting apps can outline how to get back on track after a weekend getaway or expensive night on the town. Take a close look at your spending to find a few areas you can cut back.
- Stay close to campus
From a concert to an evening yoga session, there’s bound to be something happening on campus. Stretch your savings by keeping an eye out for free or low-cost campus activities. Newsletters as well as events calendars are simple ways to stay on top of new opportunities.
Rather than heading off campus for some mid-week entertainment, round up your friends for some fun nearby. The bigger the group, the better chance you have of driving down the cost.
- Buy used textbooks
Campus bookstores are rarely the cheapest or most convenient option for textbooks. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on new textbooks you’ll have to lug back across campus, opt for online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay or Chegg. Not only will you save big by choosing used, rented or online textbooks, but you’ll also avoid a trip to the bookstore.
If you have some extra time in between classes, visit the library to see if they have your required textbook on hand. Colleges will occasionally offer one or two copies free of charge, so be sure to check early and often.
- Look for $5 deals
Eating out doesn’t have to bust your budget. Pass on that $10 sandwich in favor of something that costs just half the price. With plenty of fast food restaurants offering discounts and specials in their mobile app, there’s no reason you should settle for meals that cost more than $5.
In addition to downloading their app, sign up for a restaurant’s loyalty program. The points you earn can help cut down the cost of your next few meals in no time.
As another school year kicks off, now is the time to start looking for a few ways to spread out your summer savings. Whether it’s hunting down used textbooks or downloading a budgeting app, several different strategies promise to slash your risk of running short on cash.
About the Author
Wes Shelnutt is Director of Financial Training for Mvelopes by Finicity, a direct-to-consumer budgeting tool and financial wellness platform. Wes knows that money, and the way you manage it, is the great equalizer for people of all ages and lifestyles, and his passion for helping people achieve financial peace of mind drives him forward.