Save money in college with these tricks

By Rachel King, Assistant Copy Chief

You’re a college student, so there’s a high chance you’re either broke or close to it. Your parents aren’t funding all your endeavors anymore, and especially not your nights out.

All hope is not lost, though; you’ve made it this far off of your barely subsisting budget, so you’re obviously doing something right. To help you take full advantage of all the bargain hunting that awaits you out in the real world and to avoid mismanaging your money like I did when I first got to college, I have compiled some of my best tips I’ve learned through experience. Familiarize yourself with them so you can dodge the worst hidden spending traps for college students.

Go to the grocery store full.

If you’ve ever looked at food while you were hungry, you probably know it only makes your stomach grumble louder. I’ve caught myself at the grocery store grabbing food I would never normally eat simply because I was ravenous and it looked the slightest bit appealing.

Instead of going to the grocery store hungry or satisfied, make the trip when you’re stuffed so you’re guaranteed to not buy anything you don’t really need or won’t eat. This will also help you avoid ripping open snacks you just bought to eat on the car ride back home.

Ask about student discounts.

Though they tend to fall under the radar, student discounts — often around 10% — are offered at a plethora of stores, including those pertaining to retail, school supplies, food and even travel.

Some larger businesses that offer these include Apple, Buffalo Wild Wings, PBTeen, Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Nike, Under Armour and Vineyard Vines, but there are many other companies that boast these deals as well, so do a little research to get the best bang for your buck at your favorite stores.

Rent used textbooks.

With a new semester comes new classes and a huge bill for all the textbooks you might not even crack open. Instead of purchasing brand new textbooks in waves twice a year, rent out used textbooks. They’re significantly cheaper and at the end of the semester, you return it, so you don’t have to worry about selling them and losing money on your investment.

Make a budget.

You can tell yourself time and time again you’ll be good this week and won’t spend any money, but you and I both know that’s not true. Building a budget is a handy way to hold yourself accountable for your spending habits and to keep track of what exactly you’re spending money on so you can adjust accordingly. Visualizing the flow of your earnings can help you save for experiences in the future as well that may cost more such as concerts and trips.

Pregame.

Avoid the classic standing-at-the-bar-waving-money-around move and drink before you head out to the bars for the night. Though drinks are relatively inexpensive, buying five Blue Guys in one night can amount to a sizable portion of your budget, and in the end, it’s just not worth it. Spend the time you would’ve spent waiting at the counter for drinks on the dance floor instead.

Eat out less.

Limit how often you go out to eat to save yourself $10, not to mention the greasy calories. Take up cooking and get creative so you look forward to meals every day. Keep trying out new things and looking for inspiration so you don’t get bored.

If you really must go out, pick one day to go out to eat with your friends per week. It’ll give you all time to catch up, and it’ll be more special because you go out less frequently.

Don’t order delivery.

Ordering food is convenient and all, but in no way does the benefit outweigh the cost, quite literally. On the one hand, your food is brought right to your door, but on the other, you have to pay a delivery fee plus tip, which can end up being around 25-50% of the total cost, so you’re paying almost double what you would’ve paid had you just walked to the store. Save yourself the expense and take the effort to go to the store.

Make your own coffee.

It’s fine to treat yourself every once in a while with a fancy macchiato from Starbucks, but buying coffee daily adds up, especially when each cup is $5. If you really need coffee that badly, try making it yourself at home. Spruce it up with some cream, sugar and caramel or chocolate syrup. Iced caramel macchiato who?

Every price reduction helps, no matter how small, and utilizing all these tricks together will be sure to prevent your bank account from dwindling down to its last dollar.

Rachel is a sophomore in Media.

[email protected]