Personalfinance tips

Buy Used Books

Textbooks can feel like they’re as expensive as tuition, but Chegg is here with the solution. Offering cheap college textbooks and the ability to rent cheap textbooks, there’s no need to buy textbooks at full price again. In fact, you can save as much as 90% on your textbooks, which is a huge savings over the course of your college career.

Join Clubs and Groups on Campus

Clubs and groups on campus are a great way to get to know other students with similar interests. You’d be surprised at just how many clubs your school may have, meaning you can find the perfect group to have fun with. Some groups may require a small membership fee, while others are completely free and are much more casual. Contact your school administration to see if you can obtain a list of official clubs on campus.

Connect with Refinancing Lenders Across the Country

If your credit isn’t the best, as is typical with most college students, or you don’t have a cosigner to help you secure your loans, looking at major national lenders is a good option to get loans at fairly decent rates. Rather than applying at multiple lenders, which can lead to multiple hits to your credit, you can get free rate quotes at multiple lenders on one site without impacting your credit. Sites like Credible make it easy to check your rates and choose the right refinancing terms for your financial situation.

Never Pay Full Price

If you do have to pay for entertainment, you can download some great apps to help you save money on your entertainment by either giving you discounts or giving you cash back on your purchase. Rakuten (formerly Ebates) can earn you some serious cash back on your purchases, with offers as high as 70% or more. When you sign up for your free Rakuten, you’ll get access to an impressive dashboard of cash back offers at many of your favorite stores. Click the offer on Rakuten to be taken to the external retailer’s site and your cash back will be applied automatically. It’s important to always start shopping through Rakuten, otherwise you won’t get your cash back. Good to Know: You won’t need to pay full price at your favorite store if you shop through Rakuten. Additionally, you will get $10 for free when you sign up.

Rent an Apartment Instead of a House if Possible

Renting an apartment is often more convenient than renting a house, but depending on where you go to school, a house may be less in rent per month. Apartments are typically smaller than houses, but they also come with stress-free maintenance that you don’t have to pay for. Pro Tip: Depending on your agreement with your landlord, you’re often responsible for the upkeep of a home’s lawn and you may not have free maintenance, but you may have a lot more space in a home.

Find Multiple Roommates

One of the best ways that you can save significantly on your housing expenses is to find multiple roommates. If you’re renting an apartment or a house alone, you know just how expensive everything can be. Get a roommate, and you’ve just cut your monthly housing expenses in half; get a third roommate, and it’s even more savings. With average rent currently at over $1,400 a month in the United States, having roommates to share rent and utilities is an excellent way to save money in college.

Ask for Care Packages from Parents

Getting a care package full of food and essentials is somewhat of a college student right of passage. Even if you get a package sent from your parents once a month, those packages can quickly add up to some serious savings.

Get Cash Back on Groceries

Ibotta is a revolutionary app that gives you the opportunity to get cash back on the things you buy every day. With tons of categories to get cash back, including groceries (make those cheap college meals even cheaper), entertainment, and more, Ibotta should be one of the first apps to download if you are interested in saving money in college. Not only does Ibotta offer cash back in tons of categories, but it also makes it easy to redeem your cash back. Just upload your receipt and Ibotta will verify your purchase, automatically depositing cash back into your account. Even if you are buying ramen every week, why not get a little cash back along the way? Pro Tip: You will receive a $10 bonus if you sign up for Ibotta using this link.

Stick to a Strict Food Budget

If you’re getting rid of your student meal plan and want to start making your own food, it’s important to create a strict food budget and stick with it. Limit going out to eat as much as you can, as the cost of one meal at a restaurant can easily be the same cost as multiple meals that you make yourself at home. Apps like Pocketsmith are great ways to keep tabs on your monthly budget in college, giving you free tools and resources to manage your money effectively.

Take Advantage of Your Meal Plan

It’s typical for upperclassmen to simply not use the meal plan that they’re paying for as part of their tuition. Whether it’s to avoid the busy meal hall or simply because they prefer to eat out, students that don’t use the meal plan that they pay for are wasting potentially thousands of dollars per year. If you have the option to reduce your meal plan or completely eliminate it, consider how much your meal plan would cost per year versus your weekly grocery needs if you choose to go without a meal plan.