24 easy ways to save money at college

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It’s the start of a new semester. That means new classes, new books, and, unfortunately, new bills. But hey, nothing in life is free, right? From buying your assigned textbooks to figuring out the most cost-effective way to eat, a new semester can be a harsh reminder of the many costs associated with  college. 

Luckily, there are easy ways to save money on practically everything. From cheaper textbooks to lesser-known on-campus resources, finding these deals can make you feel like you just found a wad of cash lying on the ground. Here are 24 ways you can easily cut back on expenses while in college and help to ensure for yourself a brighter financial future.

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1. Fill out the FAFSA every year

24 easy ways to save money at college

The FAFSA is the number one way to find free money for college. It’s importance can’t be overstated. Even if you didn’t get much, fill out your FAFSA every year. Your financial situation can change from year to year, making the amount you could receive different. It never hurts to fill out a FAFSA and see how much aid you can get.

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2. Don’t buy new textbooks

24 easy ways to save money at college

Textbooks can be a huge expense. Buying brand new books every semester quickly adds up. Try used books instead. There are even online shops now where you can rent textbooks for much cheaper than buying them brand new.

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3. Resell textbooks

24 easy ways to save money at college

If you did purchase new textbooks, or even used ones, resell them at the end of the semester. The campus bookstore is one option, but you’ll probably get a better deal by selling your books on your own.

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4. Don’t forget about the library

24 easy ways to save money at college

It sounds old-fashioned, but your campus library likely has all the resources you need for papers and projects. Don’t waste time and money going far afield when you have an invaluable resource for research right there on campus.

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5. Learn to budget

24 easy ways to save money at college

College is a great time to learn how to manage a budget. Set up a budget for how much you can afford to spend on books, food, entertainment and other expenses and stick to it. There are free apps and tools like Mint that can help make budgeting simple and stress-free.

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6. Get a high interest savings account

24 easy ways to save money at college

While you’re learning to budget, put your money somewhere where it’ll count. Online savings accounts are great for college students. They often come with perks like reimbursements on ATM fees, which can be a life-saver if you’re going to school far from home. They also tend to have higher rates than traditional savings accounts, allowing you to accrue extra cash.

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7. Maximize your meal plan

24 easy ways to save money at college

Colleges often offer a variety of meal plans. It can be tough to figure out which one is the best value for you, but no matter which plan you choose, maximize your use of it. Don’t let those meals go to waste. Meanwhile, you might discover that you purchased a bit more meal plan than you need and can cut back in the future.

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8. Cook for yourself

24 easy ways to save money at college

You could also save money by forgoing the meal plan altogether. College could be a time when you learn how to cook for yourself, and save a lot of money in the process. Buying and making your own food will likely be cheaper than a meal plan and will serve you well in the future.

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9. Ask for student discounts

24 easy ways to save money at college

A lot of businesses, especially those close to a college campus, will offer discounts if you can show them a student ID. Take your ID with you everywhere and be sure to ask for discounts at places like restaurants. You can even get discounts on technology many times. Apple, Microsoft and Adobe all offer student discounts.

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10. Go to campus events

24 easy ways to save money at college

There’s no need to spend a ton of money looking for expensive entertainment off-campus. Look up events happening on campus when you want something to do. These will often be free or low-cost for students.

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11. Find your college’s gym

24 easy ways to save money at college

Paying for an off-campus gym can be exorbitant. Your college probably has its own gym that you can use for free or for a much lower fee. Failing that, see if any local gyms offer a discount to students.

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12. Go car-free

24 easy ways to save money at college

While it’ll limit your off-campus options, you probably don’t really need a car to live on campus. Gas, registration, parking and other fees can add up quickly, making a car an unnecessary burden while you’re living at school.

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13. Use campus and public transportation

24 easy ways to save money at college

If you are on a large campus, your school probably provides some sort of transportation option for students. When you’re leaving campus, bring your student ID. It can get you discounts on public transportation such as buses and subways. Investigate whether your student ID can get you a discount on a local metro card if you are frequently traveling off-campus.

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14. Tread lightly with credit cards

24 easy ways to save money at college

Getting a credit card while you’re in college can be a great first step to building credit, but many college students in need of cash look to credit cards for a quick solution and end up with some serious debt. It can be helpful to choose a credit card  especially for students. One that offers a lower credit limit, but often comes with a lower interest rate than you may find elsewhere. It’s good to keep in mind that getting saddled with extra debt due to a credit card can be a heavy burden, especially on top of student loan debt.

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15. Buy your own coffee maker

24 easy ways to save money at college

Buying a $5 coffee every morning before class adds up more quickly than you might expect. Thrift shops often have coffee makers for $5-$10, but even new coffee makers can be purchased for not a lot more. You’ll save a substantial amount of money by brewing your coffee yourself.

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16. Decline invitations

24 easy ways to save money at college

Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you need to go to every outing or party you’re invited to. Remember that it’s fine to say “no” sometimes. Alcohol, events and other outside influences can be expensive distractions that don’t really help you achieve your degree.

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17. Get your entertainment online

24 easy ways to save money at college

There’s no reason to pay for cable when all you need is an internet connection for your entertainment. You’ll probably need internet access for schoolwork anyway. Leverage that necessary expense to cover entertainment as well rather than paying for a cable connection.

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18. Get roommates

24 easy ways to save money at college

Living off-campus can be a great way to avoid room and board fees and save money. But you’ll probably need to get some roommates to do so. Find other students living off campus who can help you split the bills.

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19. Don’t fly

24 easy ways to save money at college

If you are going to school far from home, it can be tempting to fly back and forth for holidays and breaks. However, flying comes at a high price, especially if you’re transporting large bags back and forth. Look into alternatives like car pools, trains and buses. 

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20. Do school from home

24 easy ways to save money at college

A great way to cut out living, food, entertainment and travel expenses is to live at home while you’re in college. This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you can stay home it’ll save you huge amounts of money.

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21. Start making payments

24 easy ways to save money at college

If you can afford to start paying interest on student loans, go for it. There’s no reason to wait if you can start knocking down those expenses right away. And while you’re at it, make sure you’re always paying off other bills like credit cards. Managing your finances now will pay dividends later.

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22. Don’t overdraft

24 easy ways to save money at college

One of the most devastating hits to a budget is an unexpected fee like an overdraft. Budget and keep track of your finances rigorously so you don’t accidentally overdraft and have to pay a high fee as a result.

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23. Cut back on your cell phone

24 easy ways to save money at college

A cheaper cell phone plan may limit your data, but it can save you a lot of money. Forgo things like cell phone upgrades and big data plans in order to save a little money during college.

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24. Get thrifty

24 easy ways to save money at college

Whether you are living on or off campus, look to thrift stores when you need new clothes, appliances and even electronics. Buying used and secondhand from thrift stores can save a shocking amount of money compared to buying new items.

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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