It’s that time again – school is starting back up and you’re either packing a station wagon full of your kid’s most prized possessions or packing your own car up with the same. It’s fun to look back on college days nostalgically, but it’s also a lot of monetary investment, and if you’re not careful, it’s not so fun to look back on money wasted. Here are 5 real college money hacks that can deeply affect your pocketbook at the end of your university tenure.
Top 5 Money Saving Tips for College Students
Get your insurance looked at
If you drive a car at all, insurance is probably your biggest expense next to your car payment. Most car insurers understand that if you’re a good student, you’re probably a good driver. Because of this correlation, the major companies almost all offer a student discount or bonus. Get in contact with your agent and see what your good grades can do for your bill.
Consider the student insurance
Almost all major universities – particularly state schools – offer some form of student insurance. In most cases, this is cheaper and better than whatever is available on the ACA exchanges and you can enroll as long as you’re a student. If you’ve got a long-term condition or simply want to ensure you’re insured, student insurance will almost always be worth the investment.
Check with your school and see if it’s offered and to get more details. A little bit of information will go a long way in allowing you to compare and contrast their plan to those on the marketplace.
Never buy books
At least in a traditional sense. The bookstore at your campus makes a lot of money by selling you $500 math books that you can find on Amazon for a fraction of that price. In addition, your school’s bookstore probably has a rental program that, as long as you take care of the book and return it, will be significantly cheaper than buying. You can also check these places:
- Craigslist is a great place to find used books from students who don’t need them anymore
- Facebook Marketplace is a fantastic place to buy and sell used books in your area
- You might be able to find a digital copy of your textbook online, which again will be a fraction of the price of a hardbound textbook
- Look at the bulletin boards at your school, particularly in the department of your major. People will post books they have they’re willing to trade for books they need for the upcoming semester.
It can also be prudent to wait until you need a particular textbook to buy it, when some people who dropped classes will be selling their books cheap. In addition, you might not even end up needing all the books for the course. Sometimes it pays to procrastinate a bit (albeit strategic procrastination)!
Don’t pay full price for software
As a college student, you can get most of your school work done in your campus computer labs (you’re likely being charged for access, after all). If you want to have the freedom to work from your dorm or a coffee shop, however, you will need relevant software like Microsoft Office. The problem is that these programs are incredibly expensive.
The good news is that if you’re a student, you can get a significant discount or completely free version of Office, Corel, Photoshop and many other critical programs. Most of the companies offer student versions and all you need is your student email address and to be actively enrolled in classes. This can literally save you thousands of dollars in a single semester, depending on what your software needs are.
Look around for the best deals on banking
Consider going to college as a starting point or a starting-over point for your monetary future. Open a new savings and a new checking account, and scout around for the best deals. Most places will give college students incentives to bank with them, including things like better interest rates and free checking (never pay for checking anyway).
If you work and get paid through direct deposit, switching to a new bank is a great way to get a nice chunk of money, too. Many national bank chains offer $100, $200, or even greater incentives for switching and setting up direct deposit. After a few regular deposits, you get a nice extra infusion of cash into your account or in a check.
It’s also a good time to open one – yes only ONE – credit card, and the same rules apply. Go for the one that offers you the biggest incentive to sign up. Chase, for instance, often offers promotions when you make so much in purchases in a month. If you pay your bills off regularly, not allowing the debt to build, and you’re using a points-based rewards card, you’ll basically be earning money to spend money.
Finally, it might not be a bad idea to look into life insurance and a ROTH-IRA. Both of these financial investments are so much more fertile when you start young – premiums on health insurance are going to be lower for a college student. For the IRA and any other long-term investment, getting started early – even if the initial investments are meager – will still provide maximal results in the end. A lot of investment advisors offer incentives for young people looking to put together a portfolio or other type of retirement fund.
College doesn’t have to mean soul-crushing debt!
If you use these tactics to save even $1,000 dollars a semester (you can easily save even more), that’s still at least $8,000 over the course of your college experience. That’s $8,000 dollars that’s not racking up interest or coming out of pocket, leaving you only ramen and Kool-Aid for dinner months at a time. With a little investment of time, you can come out on the other side of school with a significant investment in money.
Still feeling lost as to where to start? Book a FREE consultation call with me and I’ll be happy to offer you some personalized suggestions.