Wondering how you are going to manage major college expenses and save money as a student? Because college is hella expensive. That’s no surprise to anyone.
Tuition and rent alone will cost you thousands. But in addition to tuition and rent, there are many other expenses that can creep up too.
But, your college expenses can be totally manageable.
With some foresight and planning, you can sleep easy knowing that you have your finances under control. So you can focus on, you know…college!
Here are some tips on how to prepare and manage major college expenses the right way.
Going To College – Will I be able to manage everything?
You can’t help but wonder if you will be able to manage all the college expenses that come with the life of a student.
Every minute, you are attacked with the fear of getting out of the comfort zone, meeting new people, making new friends, undertaking new courses and experiencing new events.
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And while you successfully console yourself to deal with the anxiety of change, another apprehension hits your mind like a thunderbolt, “How will I manage my expenses?”…
You might be responding with a resounding “YES”.
Well, managing costs have always been a major concern for students planning to attend college or are already enrolled.
With the pressure of submitting assignments within the deadlines, completing internships, being an active sports participant, and spending late nights with friends, managing finances seems to be a catch-22 for the majority of students.
The good news is with a proper assessment of expenses and forming a budget, any student can lay a strong foundation for money management and ensure a smooth transition to the new phase of academic life.
Before we get started discussing ways to save money on college expenses, make sure you download the HerPaperRoute Budget Planning Book.
This is a free book and online budgeting sheet which will help you save and earn more money while balancing your life as a student. Just tell me where to send your free copy.
How To 6 Manage Major College Expenses Like A Boss
Below, we have highlighted some of the significant college expenses that occur, along with some savvy tips to manage them.
1. College Selection
No other decision has the potential to affect the costs as much as the choice of the college. More often students choose to attend the college on the basis of reputation and not affordability.
As a result, they struggle to pay the tuition costs and end up regretting their decision for the years to come.
While accreditation plays an important role in choosing the right college, considering all the alternatives thoroughly can save yourself from committing a decade of debt.
Never get lured with the prettiest campus or the popularity of the college, instead look for the options that offer the best value for money.
There are many renowned public universities that provide the best education at the least cost, however, if you have the scholarships or grants to back up for the cost of a private college, you can definitely opt for it.
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2. College Living Expenses
Every year, a large number of freshman choose to live in dorm rooms as it provides access to controlled living costs and dining centers.
Besides, you don’t have to worry about rushing to campus or fighting for parking spots. However, dorms take a huge percentage of the monthly expenses and as a result, many find themselves with no option of savings.
To save money as a student on accommodation and to avoid a mountain of student loan debt, you need to take decisions wisely.
Go for the dorm rooms in an older building rather than the newer buildings and find yourself a roommate to mitigate the dorm costs.
The University I went to didn’t have dorms, so I had to rent an apartment. My school was in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, so that wasn’t much fun.
Having to pay rent on top of paying my tuition and other college expenses meant I needed to work long hours at my restaurant job outside of class.
If your college doesn’t have dorms, you will need to budget for not just rent, but bills, electricity, heat/water, and internet.
Depending on where you live, that can cost anywhere from $1200 per month to $4000 or more. So be sure to get a roommate or two![adsense]
3. The Cost Of College Textbooks
The average cost of books for college students ranges from $300 to $1000, which is often equal to one months’ rent.
And in many cases, those untouched, spotless books always seems appealing to students to buy.
But resist! Buying new textbooks will negatively affect your entire month’s budget.
Even though the bookstore seems to be a convenient option, there are plenty of alternatives available that can make a huge difference in the amount you pay.
Did you know that there is a section on Amazon just for school textbooks – often secondhand?
Spend a few minutes browsing online looking for Kindle or iPad or books.
Even with shipping costs, the costs will turn out to be cheaper. If you have Amazon Prime, most items ship is free.
4. Transportation Expenses
Transportation expenses are an inevitable expense in a student’s life.
Whether you commute to campus or plan an occasional trip home, you’ll have transportation costs. On average, a student spends $1760 per year on transportation, which is nearly half of the average tuition fees.
When I was in college, I was fortunate to rent an apartment within about 20 minutes walking distance, so transportation expenses to and from school was nill.
However, taking cabs and busses to work and parties at night, and traveling home to visit my mom a few times a year really added up.
Transportation costs vary depending on the location where you stay and the mode of transportation you are taking.
Living on campus saves you from such costs but when it comes to off-campus, paddling a bicycle or using public transport always proved to be the best ways to cut down costs.
As the costs of operating a car like fuel, maintenance and parking sometimes exceed the overall budget.
5. Food Expenses
Yes, it’s not just the outright college expenses or transportation fees, you also need to figure out how to feed yourself!
You can take the bus instead of a cab, buy used textbooks rather than the new ones, and generally take measures to live frugally.
But when it comes to food it becomes almost impossible to make cutbacks. And of course, starving yourself is not a healthy option.
So, what is the pro tip to follow here? Read on to know…
One of the most effective ways to save money as a student on food is to make a meal plan. This will help to avoid last-minute orders, keep a tab on the spending and make the most of leftovers.
And as much as I love Whole Foods now that I’m in my 30s, as a college student on a budget my advice is to avoid Whole Foods at all costs.
The mark up at Whole Foods is just non-sensical for a student. And the same goes for meal delivery services like Sun Basket or HelloFresh.
Seek out independent grocery stores, stock up at Trader Joes, and visit the Saturday fresh farm markets if your town has them.
When I was living in Hollywood in my 20s I loved shopping at all the Mexican grocery stores.
The prices are much better than the big chain grocery stores, and the hot sauce supply can’t be beaten.
Apart from that, never visit a grocery store without a shopping list. This is because it helps to avoid impulse purchases and wastage of money.
6. Social Life Expenses
Being a student, it is natural to have a lively social life. And that usually requires a lively bank account.
This includes meals out, date nights, bars, concerts, movies…all these activities have a serious impact on discretionary cash.
Why underestimate the fun of staying in for the night and inviting friends for a game Cards Against Humanity and a bottle of cheap wine?
Remember when I mentioned Trader Joes a minute ago? Oh, they sell $2 bottles of wine. TWO DOLLARS!
How To Manage Major College Expenses Like A Boss – Conclusion
College can be expensive and sticking to an annual budget can be a painstaking process.
However, getting acquainted with the basics to manage finances means you don’t have to be a victim of massive debt.
Smart budgeting and spending wisely always help you achieve your academic goals without any hassle.