It’s back to school time! And with that comes all of the expenses of school. Clothes, books, supplies–and of course, tuition. It’s more important now than ever to cut costs when possible and save as much money as possible.
Today we are talking about how you can save money during the semester. From scoring large scholarships to counting pennies in your couch cushions, every little bit counts. So take a seat and pull out your lined paper, class is in session!
Here are our twelve top ways to save money during the semester.
How to Save Money on College Expenses
Let’s face it: college is expensive. But with a little creativity and hard work, you can cut your college expenses.
# 1: Apply for as many scholarships as possible
Scholarships are always a hot topic in high school. Your senior year is full of applications and essays to try to get the most funding possible. And for many people, scholarship applications stay in the high school hallways. But you can–and should–apply for scholarships when you are in college.
Securing scholarships when you are already in college may in fact be easier than it was in high school. There are a few reasons for this:
- There’s not as much competition. There are always more first year students than any other group of college students. These numbers will reduce as time goes on, making less competition.
- You may be more focused. Now that you are already in college, you may have honed in more on what you would like to do with your life. This means you can approach scholarships that are more targeted to your career and interests.
- You can use your merits. Writing to your dean directly is an excellent way to secure more money if you have been excelling in your curriculum. Write a letter to the dean explaining your financial situation and how well your studies are going–you may be awarded additional grants. Doing this every year can add up big.
While there aren’t as many scholarships for older students, there are definitely a lot out there. Look for scholarships in your local community as well as online. Credit unions, volunteer groups, and community centers are great places to get started.
#2 Sell back your textbooks
Textbooks may feel like a thing of the past, but they are oftentimes still required by professors. Before you buy any textbooks, try to talk to previous students of the class. Did they really need the textbook, or was it never used? Can you share a book with a classmate? If buying the textbook is essential, try to find a used copy. You can often save hundreds over the course of your college career by buying used. And whether you buy used or new, always try to sell back your textbooks at the end of the semester. You can sell them online, to a friend, or even to your college bookstore, although they will probably pay you the least amount of money.
#3. Use your student discount
There are a ton of places that will offer student discounts, including tech stores, restaurants, concerts, and movie theaters. All you have to do is show your student ID and you are good to go. Taking full advantage of these perks can make your college experience fun while not breaking the bank.
#4. Be intentional with your class selection
While college can be a fun time to explore and “find yourself”, let’s be honest–it’s really expensive. So while you might be tempted to take some exploratory and enjoyable courses, make sure you are not veering off the course you should be on. If you end up needing extra classes or even an extra semester, it will be very costly.
How to Save Money on Living Expenses
The cost of living is through the roof these days, so cutting costs on your living expenses is important.
#5. Be frugal in your home
Remember when dad used to go around the house switching off all the light switches? Or changing the thermostat? It’s time to channel that energy into your current living arrangements. Turning off appliances that you aren’t using and cutting out subscription services that you don’t need are just a few ways you can cut your living expenses this semester. Living in a dorm? This may not apply to you as much, but getting into good habits with your electrical consumption will pay off when you do move out on your own.
# 6. Refinance your car loan
Having a car can be a major expense, especially when you are in college. But depending on where your school is, it might be a necessary expense. If you got a new car and financed it, there’s a good chance you are paying a lot of money in interest. Refinancing your car loan may help you out a lot with your monthly payments as well as save you money in the long run. By securing a lower car loan APR, you could save hundreds of dollars a year.
If your credit score isn’t fantastic, you can ask a friend or a loved one to cosign with you on your refinance. When you refinance, the lender will look at both of your credit scores and credit histories and take everything into account when determining what loan terms to offer.
With the price of gas and maintenance, driving around can be quite expensive. Try to carpool with other students when you can. Not only will it keep your gas costs lower, but it will reduce wear and tear on your car if you alternate with other drivers. Plus, it’s better for the environment.
#8. Learn to cook–and coupon
Eating out can add up VERY quickly. From coffee out with friends to bar food late at night, it’s easy to see how college budgets can stretch beyond their means. But learning to cook can help cut down on this expense, especially when you couple that with smart grocery shopping. Buying in bulk, clipping coupons, and using store rewards points can all help keep your dining expenses down. Plus, it’s a fun activity you can do with friends.
How to Save Money You Already Have
Learning how to manage your money is one of the most important skills you can learn. You work hard for your money, so you need to be smart with it.
#9. Get a free checking account
As a student you are eligible for a lot of perks and discounts, and a major perk of being a student is a free checking account. There are a lot of options out there to choose from, so be sure to do your research. And while you are at it, stock up on all of the free checks you can get your hands on–you don’t want to pay for unnecessary things like that while on a strict budget.
#10. Pay your bills on time
Paying your bills on time and in full is important on a number of levels. First up, it gets you in a good habit for the rest of your life. Good financial habits will pay off for the rest of your life. It will also help you build your credit score. There are five main factors that go into your credit score:
- Payment History (35%)
- Amounts Owed (30%)
- Credit History Length (15%)
- Credit Mix (10%)
- New Accounts (10%)
Payment history is the most important factor for your credit score, so making on-time, full, and consistent payments is imperative for maintaining a good credit score. Having a good credit score will help you out in so many ways, from securing lower interest rates to helping you get approved for a mortgage. And all of this starts with making on time payments.
And finally, paying your bills on time will help you to avoid late payment charges. These fees can really add up, so be sure to prioritize paying bills before they are due.
#11. Save your change
Every penny counts, and all of your change can add up to a lot of money over the course of months and years. By saving your change and exchanging it, you can easily add extra money to your budget. Try to avoid coin counting machines that charge fees though–your bank most likely has a machine to exchange coins free of charge.
#12. Take advantage of cash back
While you don’t want to charge everything you purchase, it is usually worthwhile to pick a few purchases every month to charge (and pay back in full) to help build your credit. It will also help you accumulate cash back points. Shop around for a credit card with good terms and cash back on things that you purchase a lot, such as groceries.
Those are our top tips for saving money during the semester.
Going back to school can be expensive, but utilizing some of these tips can help cushion the blow. From saving the coins under your car seat to applying for grants, any amount of savings can help in these times.
Owning a car is often necessary when away at school, but that doesn’t mean you have to overpay on your car loan. Refinancing is a great way to reduce the amount of interest you are paying and create some extra room in your budget every month. And with Auto Approve it couldn’t be easier!
So don’t wait–contact Auto Approve today!