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The Students’ Guide to Saving Money

Try these do’s and don’ts and see how much you save

Everyone knows that being a student means you are living on a tight budget. Going to career school or college is an investment in your future, but for the here-and-now, it means tightening your belt. To help make your dollars stretch further every week, try these do’s and don’ts. They won’t make you rich, but they may help you have a little extra spending money when you most need it.

Don’t buy a cup of coffee and a doughnut every morning

Do eat breakfast at home
With so many coffee shops and doughnut shops on every corner, it’s easy to fall into the habit of buying breakfast every day. The next thing you know, you are out 5 or 6 dollars before your classes even begin in the morning. Instead, eat breakfast at home. Making your own coffee and having a healthy breakfast at home can save you time and money.

Don’t shop for groceries at convenience stores

Do make a weekly trip to a grocery store
A student’s life can get pretty busy, and it is tempting to pick up whatever you need when you stop at a convenience store. Unfortunately, prices are marked up at convenience stores, and you almost always do better if you buy it at a regular grocery store. If you’re careful with coupons, you can really save a lot.

Don’t overspend on your credit cards

Do pay off your balance every month
Credit cards are convenient, because they allow you to buy something without having to pay for it right away. This works fine if you always pay your balance off each month. But if you only pay the minimum balance, the interest will start racking up fast. Some students choose to have a debit card instead of a credit card. If you are worried about overspending, a debit card is an option to consider until you are sure you can handle a credit card.

Don’t live by yourself

Do find roommates to share the rent
For students, one of the biggest expenses after tuition is housing. Finding a roommate allows you to share the rent payments and other expenses. Finding several roommates can help even more.

Don’t give in to your wants

Do identify what you need
When you are living on a restricted budget, it’s important to consider your wants versus your needs. You might want to buy a new pair of shoes, upgrade to the latest smart phone, or get new body art, but do you really need to? Be strict with your spending, and make sure you are focusing on the things you truly need.

Don’t assume you won’t get financial aid

Do look for grants, scholarships, and loans with lower rates
Depending on your skills and achievements, you may be able to find financial aid in the form of grants or scholarships. Even if it’s a relatively small amount of money, every little bit helps when it comes to paying your tuition.

Don’t wait until graduation to start working

Do look for part-time work that can bring in extra money
Your course workload may be difficult, but you still may be able to find a part-time job that will fit around your studies. Inquire at the school to see if there are any work-study programs available. Inquire about jobs in retail, food service, or other service-oriented jobs that need evening and weekend help. You may even be able to find flexible work like babysitting or house cleaning.

Don’t spend too much on vices

Do see where you can cut back your consumption
If you like to have a few drinks, or if you are a smoker, then you know that these vices can cost a fair amount of money. You can do your wallet a favor and your body a favor by trying to cut back or quit. Try the American Lung Association’s stop smoking website for help in quitting smoking. If you drink too much alcohol, talk to your doctor about safe ways to quit or cut back.

Don’t spend your money to the last dime

Do try to save just a small amount each week
Being a student isn’t the best time in the world to start a major investment portfolio, but it’s still a good practice to try to save a little bit of money each week. This can come in handy in case of unexpected expenses, and it also teaches you a good financial habit.

Don’t take the first cell phone plan you are offered

Do shop around and find the best deal
If you aren’t careful when you purchase a phone, you may enter into a cell phone contract that is too long or too expensive or both. Once your contract runs out, start shopping around for a better service provider. One tip is to get the same carrier that most of your friends and family use; this way, your in-network calls and texts to them may be free. You might also consider getting a free texting app like What’s App. Some people find that buying a used phone instead of a new phone can avoid getting locked into a long service contract. Whatever you do, be sure to shop around and find the best deal for you!

Don’t buy full-priced, brand new items if you can avoid it

Do shop around for bargains
These days with Internet shopping, coupons via email, and platforms like eBay and Craigslist, there are plenty of ways to find a bargain. Instead of buying something the first place you see it, do a little shopping around before you make a purchase…you never know, you might find a great deal!

We hope these do’s and don’ts have helped you evaluate your spending habits and find a few ways to cut back. It’s not easy living on a tight budget, but finding new ways to save can be rewarding. Once you get the hang of these tips, you will be glad for every dollar that you save!