Hey guys, check out this guest post from my pal Lauren, an up and coming personal finance writer eager to start her own blog soon.
As a current college student, I have seen too many of my peers constantly struggling with money in college. Though I don’t have perfect financial habits myself, I think I have done a decent job at figuring out how to be frugal in college to set myself up for success in the future.
When I was preparing to leave for my first semester, I was just like any other girl bound for college. I was headstrong, knew what I was talking about, and my parents were wrong, no matter what.
That didn’t last too long and I learned how to manage money the hard way. In fact, I took what little savings I had with me and I headed off to the City of Brotherly Love for school. Not even a month into college and I was calling home to see if my parents had some money to spare and send my way.
After this happened, I knew something had to change and I knew I could not keep leeching off of my family and expecting them to make up for my irresponsibility. Well, fast forward to now and I am doing much, much better. I am able to afford the things I need, the things I want, and I have not had to ask my parents for any additional money.
The following is what I currently do to make sure that I am able to afford my college experience without going broke.
I Use My Student Discounts
Student discounts? Did you know about them? Oh, I am the QUEEN of student discounts! I sometimes even embarrass my friends, but hey, a buck saved is a buck more I have to spend on something else.
When I first entered college, I did not know about student discounts until I went to the local ice cream shop and they asked me two amazing things. One, for my student ID. And two, if I had a loyalty card.
My student ID saved me 10% on my ice cream and I received a check on my new loyalty card. By the way, 10 checks and I get a FREE ice cream of my choice.
Anyways, I learned that many places do not advertise that they offer student discounts and you have to ask. There is no harm in asking and you will find that many places do offer them such as the movie theater, bars, restaurants, and even grocery stores.
I Do Not Eat Out and I Utilize My Meal Plan
Eating out is a luxury and while it is nice, I don’t do it. I actually fully utilize my meal plan at school and I prepaid for the amount of food that I thought I would need throughout the semester.
I happened to overestimate a little bit, but that is okay because now I can enjoy snacks and additional meals from time to time.
Oh—a little secret—take advantage of the buffets and the free eating nights that your campus holds. Sometimes, you may even be able to take a box back to your dorm with you for lunch the next day or a midnight snack as you crunch for your exam.
I Only Head Out When There is a Coupon or Special
Remember how I said I do not eat out? Well, I generally don’t. The only time that I go out to eat or to drink is when I have a coupon or when there is a special going on.
I do not believe in paying full price for food, especially when you can cook at home or eat on campus for a fraction of the price.
Sure, the deep fried fries are delicious, but you can purchase a deep fryer for the price of one restaurant meal out and you can have deep fried fries all of the time.
I Work in College to Save on Student Loan Debt
Let me let you in on a little secret. I pay off the accrued interest on my student loans, even though it technically isn’t required. See, I had a job after I finished high school and also participate in a work-study program part time now at my college library. I had saved up a nice amount of money coming into college, am still able to make some money on the side now. I use this money towards the interest that accumulate each month on my student loans.
If you can, I suggest that you put some money towards your student loans each month. Doing this, you will help yourself financially because your principal balance will not grow each month. If your principal is the same, the charged interest will also be the same. If you do not pay the interest on your student loans, then it will add to your principal each month, and more interest will be charged each subsequent month.
I Take Advantage of Free Events on Campus
Who needs to pay $15 to go see a movie when you can attend free events on campus? My college campus hosts regular events that include movies on the lawn, popcorn and a horror story, and more.
I absolutely love these events because I am able to connect with other students on campus and I never have to pay a dime for them.
If you are lucky, you may find a club or two that hosts an even on campus that even offers refreshments for you to enjoy. That’s a double free whammy. My poison.
You Too Can Join Me and Save Money While in College
As you can see, I have worked hard to learn the different ins and outs on how to save myself the most money. I am glad that I did because I have more cash in my pocket and I can enjoy many free events.
Saving money in college can be difficult, especially with the pressure of your friends hounding you to go out, but stick to your guns and remember your end goal and you will soon be saving money like me!
Lauren Davidson is a Junior at the University of Pennsylvania. She is majoring in Finance and is working to set herself up for success in repaying her student loan debt after graduation.