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How to Stash Your Cash and Save Money in College

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Posted on June 24, 2016 by Delaware Valley University.

Between the cost of tuition, books, groceries, and room and board, most college students are counting their pennies. This post discusses easy, straightforward ways that you can save money in college, so read on if you’re on a tight budget. 

Buy or Rent Used Text Books

Buying brand new text books gets expensive—fast. In fact, The College Board estimates that the average student pays $1,298 for books at public colleges and $1,249 at private ones. 

However, you can save some money if you rent books or buy used ones. You can also find discount books on websites like Chegg, eCampus and CollegeBook Renter. The books on these sites are usually cheaper than the ones at student bookstores and could potentially save you hundreds of dollars each semester. 

Pro tip: If you only need a book for a short period of time, check it out of the library or borrow it from a friend. That way you avoid purchasing textbooks altogether.  

Pay Bills on Time

No one wants to get saddled with late fees, especially when you’re on a tight budget. To avoid unnecessary expenses, make sure that you pay all of your bills on time. 

Limit How Much You Eat Out

Grabbing lunch after class or dinner before a study session seems convenient when your schedule’s tight, but the cost of eating out adds up over time. To avoid overspending on food, limit the number of times you eat out to once a week or once per month. 

Shop Where Student Discounts Are Offered

Before you run errands, find stores in your area that offer discounts for students. Many movie theaters, grocery stores and restaurants provide a discount as long as you have your school ID. Try to do most of your shopping at those businesses. 

Consider Becoming a Resident Assistant

Paying for rent, utilities and food adds thousands of dollars to the cost of college. However, you can eliminate most—if not all—of those expenses if you become a resident assistant. Resident assistants at most schools have room and board and their meal plan covered. 

Choose Generic Over Brand Items

No matter what you’re shopping for, brand items tend to be more expensive than their generic, store-brand counterparts. Choosing generic groceries, soaps and other necessities can save you a few dollars when you go shopping. 

Cut Out Vices

Not only is binge drinking, smoking and drug use bad for you, it’s also expensive. Smoking one pack of cigarettes a day in Pennsylvania can cost more than $2,500 each year, and binge drinking can increase your tab twofold. To improve your health and bank account while in school, eliminate these habits.

Use an App to Track Your Expenses

Setting a budget each month can prevent you from overspending, but keeping track of your purchases can seem tough. Luckily, there are several money management apps, like Goodbudget, Mvelopes and Pocket Expense, to help you track your spending.