By Jean Chatzky*
Here’s how to get an A+ in savings
When we think of saving money at college, a few key things come to mind, including scholarships, loans and 529 plans. But what about saving money in smaller ways? College is already expensive, so why rack up the debt if you don’t have to? Smart students know that saving money while studying is not only doable, it’s an A+ move. Here’s how, with 3 ways to save money as a college student.
New Books? No Way! Rent, or Buy Used
One of biggest expenses for college students is the cost of textbooks — but it doesn’t have to be. “If you’re going to buy a book, buy used. And make sure you shop around and compare prices at both your campus bookstore and online shops,” says Robert Farrington, founder of TheCollegeInvestor.com. You should also consider renting your textbooks. Amazon, BigWords.com or BookRenter.com all offer the ability to rent books for the duration of the semester. After all, are you really going to use your Biology 101 textbook once the class is over? Don’t spend money on something that’s just going to collect dust in your dorm room (or your parents’ basement).
Make the most of your meals
It’s no secret that college cafeteria food is subpar — and expensive. Tori Canonge, the blogger behind Chase The Write Dream, says you don’t always have to opt for the highest-tier meal plan. “Chances are you’ll go out to eat with friends a lot or skip meals to go to class, so you aren’t really using your full meal plan.” If you are eating out a lot, make sure to bring your student ID with you everywhere you go. Most local restaurants in college towns will offer a discount to those who show valid ID (and bigger chains like Chipotle and Pizza Hut will give you discounts as well).
You may also want to consider investing in a Keurig or Nespresso machine to put in your dorm room. Expect an initial expense of $100 to $200 for either machine, but you’ll save in the long run. We all know how much money we spend on our Starbucks lattes on the daily, especially when we stop at the student union to get some work done.
Take advantage of discounts and free entertainment
Instead of spending money on expensive event tickets, be on the lookout for free, campus-sponsored concerts and parties. Your campus might have movie premieres or art showings that are free to attend, and they might even have free food on offer. If you decide to hang out off-campus, remember to always have your student ID with you says Farrington. “Before you commit to anything, always ask ‘do you have a student discount?’” Movie theaters, restaurants and even some bus and train stations may offer a benefit for the college set.
Also, did you know that your status as a student means you’re eligible for discounted entertainment with companies like Spotify, Amazon and Apple? Students have access to Spotify Premium for only $4.99 a month, which is half of the normal fee. You can also get Amazon Prime for free for six months, and save as much as $300 on a brand new MacBook — plus you’ll get a free pair of Beats headphones with your purchase.
* Mid Oregon Credit Union offers free unlimited credit score access through our online banking “Credit Savvy” resource. Visit Mid Oregon’s Digital Banking Features page to learn more.