Going to college is expensive. Some people are lucky enough to have parents who can pay the full tuition or get a full-ride through a scholarship program, but everyone else has to find a way to save enough money to make it through several years of schooling.
The average cost of college tuition in a single academic year is $35,676 for a private institution, $21,629 for an out-of-state public institution and $9,716 for a public in-state institution. These monumental costs don’t cover other essentials like living space, groceries, transportation and healthcare. It’s no wonder why so many people graduate with a mountain of debt to repay.
Now, simple changes with your spending and saving habits won’t give you enough cash to cover all of your college expenses. But, they will give your wallet a little more wiggle room, so you don’t feel compelled to eat ramen noodles for every meal.
Get Cheaper Textbooks
Textbooks are notoriously pricey. When you’re browsing the student bookstore, see if you can get a used version to get a discount. For bigger savings, you can rent your textbooks from websites like Campus Book Rentals and Chegg. The website Project Gutenberg will let you download eBooks in different languages like English, German, French, Italian and Portuguese. Students studying language, classics or literature can really benefit from a source like this.
And remember, your local library can be more helpful than you think. If the library doesn’t have any books from your class list available, you can put in a request that they order some of the titles.
Spruce up an Old Computer
You’re going to be tempted to buy a shiny new MacBook for your upcoming semester. Sadly, you can spend over $2000 on the Apple product. That doesn’t cover things like warranties, accessories and repairs. That’s a hefty chunk of change.
If your desire to have the sleek model is that strong, there’s one thing you can do: get a pre-owned MacBook and give it a quick makeover. You can find options on eBay, Craigslist and other e-commerce sites. You can also go to electronic stores to see if they have any used models available.
Don’t dismiss the laptop if it looks unimpressive. As long as it works fine, it’s a good investment. You can cover up ugly cosmetic damage like scuff marks and scratches with a high-quality vinyl skin. It will hide any signs that the device has had previous owners while giving it a fresh and bold look. Choose an exciting design like black camo or blue carbon fiber. With the help of this accessory, you can save yourself a lot of money and make sure your MacBook stands out for all of the right reasons.
Be Responsible about Your Payments
Missing essential payments will bite you back two-fold. You can rack up late fees. When a service gets cut off, you’ll have to make a significant payment to get it back. And if you can’t come up with the rent, you could get kicked out of your place.
To meet all of your important payment deadlines and avoid any financial penalties, you should use an app like Prism Pay Bills to track your bills and send reminders to your smartphone at no cost. Paying your bills, membership fees and rent will never slip your mind, again.
Get a Side Hustle
When you’re taking on a full course load, you might not have the time or energy to deal with a demanding part-time job. You need flexible hours that won’t mess with your studies, but you want some extra cash. The only solution is a side-hustle that works with your schedule.
If you’re the creative type, you can make money off of your craft skills by selling your wares at local craft fairs and on websites like Etsy. If you’re a gifted writer, you can look to websites like Upwork and Freelancer for opportunities. If you’re not sure about what marketable skills you have, take a look at an app like TaskRabbit to see what errands you can run for pay.
Following all these money-saving tips will make your college experience a little bit easier. You’ll still deal with stresses like midterms and roommate squabbles, but at least your finances don’t have to give you a panic attack every time you pull out your wallet.