Ever feel like college is sucking the life out of your bank account? You’re not alone. Books, board, tuition, food, gas, phone bills—even having a decent social life can put a dent in your savings. But fear not, young padawan. From finding an apartment to finding entertainment on the weekends, you can have a great college experience and graduate with your bank account intact. Start by using these five tricks to save money in college.
1. Make a Budget to Find an Apartment
Part of college is learning how to balance all areas of your life, from your classes to your weekends to your checkbook. Make a budget before you start apartment hunting so you can figure out which apartments you can afford and which you should avoid.
If making a budget is half the battle, then taking your budget into account while finding an apartment is the other half. Don’t spring for the fancy apartment downtown if you can’t afford it. Instead, use an apartment search tool to find an apartment with lots of great amenities for a little bit less. You’ll be happy you did when Friday night rolls around and you have a little cash to spare. You should also consider getting a roommate if you’re a low on funds. Pick a friend you’re compatible with and you’ll find that college apartment living can be cheaper and more fun.
2. Opt for Cheap Thrills
Ain’t nothin’ wrong with livin’ the coupon life. Every little bit you save throughout the year is better for your bank account so when it comes to entertainment, think thrifty. Thumb through those big coupon books they hand out on campus at the beginning of the year and clip the ones you think you’ll use. Stay in and have a party or movie marathon with your friends instead of going out on the weekends, where drinks and food are expensive. Rent your movies or get a Netflix subscription instead of buying. Or even better, utilize your local public library for free books, music, and movies.
3. Get Your Textbooks Secondhand
Have you ever actually compared the prices of new vs. used textbooks? If not, go ahead and get out a defibrillator. We’ll wait.
Once you’ve restarted your heart, look into getting your textbooks from anywhere but the campus bookstore. Put out a query on Facebook and ask around to see if any of your friends have taken the class and can give you a good deal on textbooks. Otherwise, rent from a company like Chegg to save big on books. (Just make sure you return them at the end of the year.)
4. Cancel Your Gym Membership
Spending your hard-earned money on a membership to the local 24 Hour Fitness? Find an apartment that lists a 24-hour gym as an amenity, and you’ve got free workouts for the length of your lease. No apartment gym to be found? Try these ways to stay fit in a gym-less apartment.
5. Ask Your Apartment about Renewal Deals
If you are renewing your apartment instead of finding a new apartment, check with management for any renewal deals on your lease or other fees. Your landlord may be willing to lower your rent rate, waive your yearly parking fee, give your carpet a deep clean… you never know.