Money-Saving Tips for the Hard-Working Student

hand holding a credit card

With summer break coming to an end, you’ve likely saved up a bit of money from your part-time job or internship. But soon you’ll be heading back to school, which means picking up fewer hours at work, purchasing expensive textbooks, and paying for your own groceries again. However, part of your time at college will also have you learning how to manage money to keep yourself financially secure and stable. You won’t have to watch all of your hard-earned money vanish into thin air if you follow some of these tried-and-true money saving tips.

Figure out where your money’s going.

It’s easy to overspend if you’re not keeping track of where you’re spending it all! Start by writing down every income and expense, no matter how small. Forbes magazine suggests using a free Smartphone app such as Mint or Level to keep track of your spending while on the go. At the end of the month, you’ll be able to see how much those daily coffee runs or Friday nights out are really costing you.

Make a budget – and stick to it.

Now that you know how much money you’re earning and spending, create a budget. Be honest with yourself and separate your wants and needs. How much do all of the necessary expenses really cost you? Decide where you can cut back and set spending goals. That might mean going out for dinner less often, or passing up a deal at your favorite clothing store. Experts recommend carrying a weekly cash allowance instead of a debit or credit card. When your cash runs out, you’ll know to wait until the following week to spend money on items you want.

Start saving little by little.Glass jar filled with money with a label marked College Fund on it.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to set up a grown-up piggy bank – a.k.a. a savings account. Start depositing money to your savings account regularly, even if you have to start small. You’ll start a habit of saving and before you know it, all that loose change will add up. Citizens Bank suggests using a savings account that isn’t attached to your debit card so you aren’t tempted to withdraw money on a whim.

Find creative ways to save money.

Tracking expenses, budgeting, building a savings – now that you’re a money management expert, you can start looking for more opportunities to pinch pennies. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of 25 money-saving tips and tricks that you can use for the upcoming semester.

  1. Buy or rent used textbooks or older editions.
  2. Consider switching to a smaller meal plan that better suits your eating habits.
  3. Leave your car at home to save on gas and insurance.
  4. Wait a few days before buying non-necessities to avoid impulse purchases.
  5. Take advantage of free, on-campus events and entertainment.
  6. Shop at stores that offer student discounts.
  7. Find a flexible part-time job.
  8. Pay all of your bills on time to avoid late fees.
  9. Cook at home or use your meal plan instead of going out to eat.
  10. Walk, bike, carpool, or take public transportation whenever possible.
  11. Opt-out of school health insurance if you’re already covered.
  12. Buy cheaper store-brand commodities instead of name-brand.
  13. Apply for any and all scholarships.
  14. Quit or cut back on smoking and drinking.
  15. Skip your morning coffee run and brew at home instead.
  16. Switch to a more affordable cell phone plan.
  17. Utilize the campus gym instead of paying for a gym membership.
  18. Drink tap water instead of bottled water or other beverages.
  19. Drop your cable package and use Netflix instead.
  20. Don’t go grocery shopping hungry and stick to your shopping list.
  21. Use Pandora or Spotify instead of paying for music.
  22. Borrow books and movies from the library.
  23. Clip coupons and take advantage of sales.
  24. Skip expensive spring breaks and weekend trips.
  25. Apply to be an RA and get free housing.

Make use of SUNY’s financial literacy tools.

Finally, SUNY offers both current and prospective students a collection of resources that cover a wide spectrum of financial education and planning including budgeting, responsible credit card use, avoiding identify theft, banking basics, borrowing, and working through college. With SUNY Smart Track, students gain a better understanding of college costs and learn to develop a financial plan for the future. Check out Smart Track to access all of the financial literacy tools that are available to you!

SUNY Smart Track - Smart. Efficient. Easy.

Serah Shahar

Written by Serah Shahar

Serah was a social media intern in the SUNY Office of New Media, having graduated from the University at Albany with Business Administration degree with concentrations in marketing and finance and minors in economics and communications.

August 12, 2015

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