Most college students know what it’s like to live on a tight budget. Between classes, studying, and hanging out with friends, it can be hard to find time for a job that will completely relieve budget tension. Plus, there’s the cost of rent, food, textbooks, and tuition. College students who are ready to start renting an apartment in Fort Collins and make the jump to off-campus life might have other expenses as they leave the world of the dorms. Here are five of the top tips for college students to save money while living off-campus.
Set a Budget
The foundation of saving money, no matter if you’re in college, in the middle of your career, or retired, is to set a budget. Look at how much money you make or what you have in your bank account and make a monthly plan of where it will go. Start with set expenses like rent, gas, and tuition. If there is extra money, you can allocate money first for other important things (including a savings account) and then for fun activities.
A budget can keep you on track and help you realize how much money you’re actually spending. There are a lot of apps available that make it simple to create and stick to a budget. Click here to learn about the best budgeting apps for college students.
Share with Roommates
When you live off-campus, one of the best resources for saving money can be your roommates. Everyone needs the same basic essentials, but it can get a little ridiculous if each person buys their own toilet paper and toothpaste in a shared bathroom. The same goes in the kitchen—you probably don’t each need your own bottle of ketchup or loaf of bread. Save money by sharing with roommates and splitting the cost of items that you all use. This includes items like paper products, cleaning supplies, and basic food essentials.
Talk with your roommates on how you want to share—some people like having one roommate do all the shopping and then sending them money, and for other roommates it works better to take turns buying the shared items.
Buy Used Textbooks
One of the biggest expenses for college students is textbooks, which can cost hundreds of dollars a semester. Not buying textbooks isn’t an option if you want to do well in your classes, but there are ways to get around paying full price. Look at used textbook websites to find previously owned versions of textbooks. Some books may have highlighting and signs of wear, but other books may still be in pretty good condition. Used books tend to be significantly less expensive than new versions.
Check to see if your school has a book exchange program or if there are people who have already taken the class who are willing to sell you their textbooks. If possible, sell your books back to the bookstore or to other students at the end of the semester to get back some of your money. Click here for more information about buying used textbooks.
Cook at Home
It can be tempting to go out to eat with friends every night or to just grab something quick on your way home from class, but constantly eating out can be a huge drain on your wallet. You can definitely still go out on occasion—this is college, after all—but don’t have it become an everyday occurrence. Instead, learn to cook at home. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it will almost always save you money. You can even take it a step further by cooking at home and sharing with roommates to split the cost.
Use Student Discounts
You won’t be a student forever, so don’t miss out on your chance to use student discounts. Many restaurants and stores offer deals to students when you show your school ID. Student discounts vary depending on where you live but can include anything from cheaper movie and concert tickets to lunch specials at local restaurants and bars. Student discounts also work on computers and other gadgets. It’s always good to ask, so don’t go anywhere without checking if there’s a student discount.
Living off-campus is a fun new adventure for many college students. Don’t let the experience drain all your money. Follow these tips to save some extra cash and you can have a great apartment and money to enjoy it.
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