Budgeting is incredibly challenging, especially as a college student.
From worrying about the ever-increasing cost of housing, to meal plans and tuition – it’s a lot. Not to mention school supplies and books!
You are not alone in the pain of preparing for a new semester, so here are five tips on how to save money this fall.
Cut Coffee Consumption
College is rough and it’s hard not to bite, literally, into the temptations of all the convenient campus fast foods and coffee shops. Whether you spend $5 a day on Starbucks, or $2 on a vending machine snack, it can add up. In fact, ABC News discussed a study that found the average American spends about $1,100 a year on coffee alone. By investing in a coffee maker this fall (some pots are as cheap as $25, that’s less than a week’s worth of coffee shop drinks), or packing snacks, you can minimize the amount of money you spend on campus food, and thus maximize savings.
Walk, Bike or take Public Transportation
Uber and Lyft are incredibly convenient options for getting around, especially when you are running late for class across campus. However, the costs can add up if it becomes a habit. Check out the public transportation in your area, where students often receive a discount, or your institution’s bus services, which are often free! Or, even better, consider leaving yourself a few extra minutes to bike or walk across campus. Not only is this cost-effective but it’s a great way to get fresh air and stay in shape.
Shop Around for Course Materials
Books are one of the most expensive parts of college but they don’t have to be! Your university will often carry copies of textbooks at the library for you to check out when you need it. If your friends have previously taken the course, ask to borrow their book if they purchased it.
In addition, check out Cengage Unlimited, a new subscription where students pay a one-time fee to get access to all the digital learning platforms, online homework & study tools, as well as ebooks that Cengage offers. For students who need to purchase multiple books, this is a great tool because you can get all your materials in one place, and access all the other study tools Cengage offers for about the cost of just one book.
Score Student Savings
Don’t overlook college student discounts – they’re an easy way to save money throughout your time as a student. Many stores, like Banana Republic, Topshop and ASOS, all offer discounts if you have a valid student ID. Amazon Prime also offers a 6-month free trial for students and the New York Times offers access to all publications for $1! Apple, Dell, Spotify and Microsoft give significant student discounts, as well. Find out if your university offers Microsoft products for free as many colleges do.
Plan Courses According to Expenses
The classes you take and the professor teaching it can make a huge difference in the course materials you’ll need. Some professors might require a subscription to a news service, while others may require three different textbooks. This could be the difference between spending $20 and $200.
To better prepare, check out websites like Rate My Professors, where students often mention whether the materials are required or just recommended. If, for instance, you know that one professor requires an expensive book or a digital program, plan to take that class when you don’t have many other expenses. Scheduling classes with this in mind can help you plan accordingly and minimize the amount you spend.
–Kat Humphries is a freshman majoring in Political Science and Criminal Justice at the University of Akron. She works as a Student Ambassador for Cengage and is a Student Assistant for the Engineering Department at her University. In her free time, she is an assistant debate coach for high school students and a writer for Her Campus Akron.