Your first year of college can bring a lot of changes, including financial ones. It's likely the first time in your life you're out on your own. Not only do you need to be focused on attending class, but many students also have to wade through the details of student loans. You're also possibly no longer dependent on your parents for money and need to find ways to stretch your budget. With that in mind, the following five tips should help you save money as a new college student.
If you had a job in high school, then it's likely you had a bank account. That's great and will give you more experience to go off of. However, if you're part of the 52 percent of recent grads who move more than 50 miles away to attend college, you might want to consider opening up a new account anyway.
The key benefit in going with a local bank is many have accounts suited specifically for college students. They typically offer accounts with lower, or no, minimum balances, making it easier to manage your money without fear of bank fees. You'll also be sure to have easy access to ATMs, and you never know when you'll need to take out more cash.
Living off campus can be cheaper than living on campus, especially when you split an apartment or house with roommates. Don't allow those cost savings to be eaten up by going out to eat too often. Learning how to cook can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. The Internet is full of simple recipes that are inexpensive and easy.
If you've never cooked before, consider splitting up the duties with a roommate or asking your parents for a few tips. Not only will your meals be healthier, but you'll stretch your money more with leftovers.
Paying yourself first is one of the hallmarks of personal finance. You might also think that as a college student you can't afford to pay yourself first. But if you have a part-time job, you can still pay yourself first, even if it is in a small amount.
Don't hold yourself back by thinking that it's "only $10 or $20" per month, and it won't mean anything. It's the act of beginning to live out a lifestyle of financial prudence that matters – not the amount. Not only will this help you get into the habit of saving, but it will also help you begin to live by some sort of budget while also helping you avoid credit cards. That's also not to mention the fact that if you have a true emergency occur, then you'll have funds to handle it.
Cable companies love to target new college students. Their thinking is simple – you're accustomed to having it while living at home and you want to have it while in college. Don't fall for that trick. Many of the shows you watch are available online, plus there is a variety of cord-cutting solutions such as Netflix, Google Chromecast and Amazon's Fire TV Stick. These options will give you access to most programming for a fraction of the cost.
If cable is something you want, you can lower the overall cost by splitting the cost with your roommates – though if you live on campus, it's quite possible your dorm will have numerous available subscriptions, too.
What college student doesn't like to go out for the evening? Many do, but there's one small problem with that – it costs money. You can do many of the same things at home for a fraction of the cost.
You don't have to cut going out altogether, but limit your excursions to a certain number of times per month or for special events. That will allow you to still get out, but make it more cost feasible in the long run.
Life as a new college student brings with it a lot of new experiences. With a little work, you can save money while still having fun.