Spending Tips for College Students

When freshmen move to college the first time, they end up spending a lot of money. They pay full price for their books at the campus book store because they don’t know better. They go out to eat all the time because they haven’t figured out that it adds up really fast. They spend a lot of money decorating their dorm room to make it their own. They buy new computers and other toys they can no longer afford. They are used to having all sorts of disposable income from high-school, but now they’re on their own and their habits of high school will only work for so long. Eventually they’ll run out of money and be flat out broke. Here are eight great things that college freshmen can do to save money

1. Limit Fast Food Trips to Once a Week When I was in high-school, I went out to eat every single day for lunch, and it got really expensive, really fast. I didn’t really have anything to save for then, so it never hit me how much I was spending. When I got to college all of that disposable income was lost to textbooks and tuition, and going out to eat all the time was no longer an option. Limit your trips to McDonalds, Burger King, or wherever once a week.

2. Be Smart with Textbooks A lot of freshmen make mistakes when buying textbooks. You’ve probably heard some of this advice before, but this will be a good refresher. Don’t buy books until at least a week in class and you are sure you are actually going to need to use the book. Buy textbooks online and never from the bookstore, BigWords.com is a great resource for that. Get the ISBN numbers for your books by emailing your professors, and sell the books you bought online back to the bookstore at the end of the semester.

3. Apply for Scholarships After You Enter College A lot of students think that they got all of the scholarships that they are going to get when they entered college, but this is not the case. There are many scholarships available only to upper level college students, so be sure to check the financial aid office regularly for any new scholarships that are available.

4. Don’t Overdo Dorm Decorations Try to get your parents to pay for a lot of this. Getting a mini-fridge is definitely a good idea, but you probably don’t need a microwave. Bring whatever posters and whatnot you have from home, don’t go out and spend a bunch of money on new stuff. Your dorm might look a little bit nicer than everyone else’s for a semester, but after that it’ll just be “your stuff” again and the money will be gone.

5. Don’t Buy Too Nice of a Computer For pretty much all college courses, you can get by with a $600 computer from Dell. You don’t need anything fancy, just enough to do word, email and research online. It’s going to be obsolete in 2 years anyway, so don’t bother paying too much for something that goes down in value so much

6. Don’t Overeat on Your Meal Plan There’s always a percentage of students that get whatever they want whenever they want from the campus and then their meal plan runs out by thanksgiving. Figure out how much you can spend a week and don’t go over it. Buy groceries if you find yourself spending too much money in the dining hall.

7. New Clothes are Unnecessary A lot of freshmen want to look their best for all of the new members of the opposite sex that they will be meeting, but in a few semester’s you’re just going to come to class in sweatpants and a t-shirt anyway. Your old wardrobe is just fine, no one else there has seen it yet anyway.

8. Carpool Home College freshmen tend to go home a lot more than any other students. If you live far away, gas can add up real quickly getting home. If someone else goes to your college from the same city, carpool with them to save on gas.