We get it—you’re living on a tight budget. So when we presented 10 incredibly easy ways to save money in college, it’s no surprise that they were incredibly popular. So in order to help you out even more, we’ve put our brains together to come up with another 10 ways you might not have thought of to keep your hard-earned money safely in your bank account. Check out our list of ideas, and comment at the end with yours!
1. If you’re going out, look for Happy Hours and After Work Specials
Here in Boston, Happy Hours are technically illegal because Massachusetts doesn’t allow sales on discounted alcohol, but that doesn’t stop my friends and I from scrounging the city for discounted food and drink deals. You’re in college — going out with friends is important and incredibly common at our age. If you don’t want to skip on bonding with your friends, suggest heading to a place that offers half price appetizers or discounted drinks between certain hours. From big chains like P.F. Chang’s and McCormick & Schmick’s to local pubs and bars, you’re bound to find at least one place that’ll let you eat and drink for cheap.
“‘Wing nights’ are perfect for going out and saving money,” says Katie Bryant, a Northeastern University graduate. “The ‘wing night’ my friends and I usually go to is at Penguin Pizza on Monday nights. It’s 15 cent wings so you can get 10 wings and a drink for less than $7!”
2. Brown bag your lunch
In one of our lists of suggestions, we suggested cooking as one way to save money. That is definitely still true—for proof, check out our story on how to make 21 meals with $60! We know, it’s so much easier to say, “Oh, I’ll just buy my lunch!” but the money you’re spending every afternoon really adds up. If lunch is $10 a day, that’s $50 a week you could easily be saving! So take cooking one step further and make a little extra the night before so you can bring your leftovers for lunch the next day. Throwing ravioli on to boil? Double the amount you’re making and stick it in a Tupperware for next time. Making chicken? Defrost two pieces and cook the second while you’re at it. There’s very little extra preparation required, and you’ve got an easy meal for the next day.
“I do a lot of cooking on the weekend to prepare for the week’s lunches,” says Jacqueline Findra, a Northeastern University graduate. “I’ll make a big batch of something like soup and freeze half of it to bring out at a moment’s notice. Freezing meals is perfect even for dinner when you get home from work, are exhausted and don’t feel like cooking.”
3. Go for the generic brands
At every drugstore and grocery store across the country, the shelves are stacked with all the name brand items you immediately recognize. Right next to them is usually the store brand version, often $1 or $2 cheaper, made with exactly the same things. Compare the boxes—if it’s a medication, check the active ingredients and if it’s a food look at nutritional facts and servings. Often, these products are nearly identical, and you can easily save a ton of cash if you purchase the non-name brand item!
4. Clip Coupons
I know, I know. This suggestion makes you think of your stingy grandparents who sit with the newspaper at the kitchen table carefully cutting out every coupon imaginable. But you don’t need to spend hours to find coupons—simply leaf through the brochures you get in the mail and see if any of them are for products you regularly use. Often, things like tampons or toilet paper are discounted at bulk rates. The reality is, you’ll eventually use this stuff, so what’s the harm in buying two boxes if you’re saving $5?
5. Sign up for Groupon and other similar sites
Group buying websites like LivingSocial and Groupon offer up to 75 percent discounts on everything from dental exams to 90-minute massages. Sites like these are completely free to join, as all you need to do is provide a name and email address. You’ll get the deals for your city sent right to your inbox every day. While most you’ll just delete, others are fabulous deals that are often too great to pass up. Alex Bradley, a recentt Northeastern University graduate agrees. “Groupon is a great program if you buy deals for things you’d normally spend money on anyways, like dry cleaning or going out to eat at your favorite restaurants. You really can save a ton of money!”
Although these websites are great, it’s also important to have self-control. Just because you might go to the restaurant or use the deal doesn’t mean you should purchase it, so spend wisely!
Here’s our list of our favorite group saving sites:
6. Subscribe to your favorite magazines
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a fashion magazine addict. There’s no shame in your addiction! What’s not so great about this habit is how pricey it can be. When each issue costs you $5 or $6 at the grocery store, that money adds up. Show your love for these glossies and subscribe to your favorite ones. Often, subscriptions are only $10 to $25 for a year or two, which is less than a quarter of what it would cost you to buy every issue on the stands! You can subscribe to SELF for just $8 a year—check out the subscription page here.
Not only is this great for your health, but you can also save a huge amount of money by not paying for public transportation. It’s hard to motivate yourself in those winter months, but think of the exercise as an easy gym replacement! Plus, you build up body heat the more you walk, so you’ll be less cold once you get your walk on. Google maps has a great new feature that lets you plan out your route walking as opposed to driving. Plot in your destination and pick your path!
8. Invest in a reusable water bottle
Every time you buy that Poland Springs or Smart Water bottle, you’re wasting more plastic and money. Instead, buy an awesome reusable water bottle to carry with you to class and the gym. We love these awesome patterned 20 ounce bottles from Sigg. On Northeastern’s campus, our water fountains all just got installed with easy-fill water bottle taps, which make this habit incredibly easy to keep. We’re willing to bet your campus has a multitude of drinking fountains that make refilling easy and free! Plus, most cities have tap water that is totally safe to drink. If you’re not sure about your college’s city or town, check out the EPA website for more information.
On that same note, try drinking more water instead of coffee or soda. Every time you buy a bottle of Coke or Nantucket Nectar from the vending machine, it costs you an extra $1.75. The same goes for eating out at restaurants—opt for water instead of a pricey soda or juice. If you do need something alternative to water, try slicing lemon or lime into your water for a bit of flavor. Or, add frozen strawberries or raspberries instead—delicious! If you’re still craving juice, try the Crystal Light powder that you can add directly to your water. It’s much cheaper, and the big containers last for months! If you really need that soda, buy the 12 packs in bulk from the grocery store when they’re on sale and save yourself a ton of money.
9. Pre-game and make your own drinks
For those of you over 21, you know how exorbitantly expensive alcoholic drinks can be. So if you’re not at one of those Happy Hours or your city doesn’t have $1 drafts, opt for making your own drinks before going out. A bottle of rum or vodka will vary in price across the U.S., but here in Boston, a liter of flavored vodka is about $18. Buy a two-liter bottle of soda and a carton of juice (about $5 total) and concoct your own drinks. My favorite is lime vodka, limeade and Sprite! You’ve got multiple drinks for at least three or four people, and it costs you less than what two cocktails would cost you out at the bar!
10. Buy things used
Dying for some new DVDs or books? Instead of paying full price at Target or Best Buy, search places like Craigslist or even Facebook Marketplace for discounted used items. Amazon often has DVDs and books at discounted rates as well. Check out Blockbuster or other rental stores, as they will often sell extra used DVDs for much cheaper. Tons of CD stores also sell used music and DVDs, and so do thrift stores like Goodwill. Before you purchase, ask a sales associate to let you look at the discs to make sure they’re not scratched. You can also sign up for Swap.com where you can swap books, DVDs, video games and more.
On the same note, if you live or are moving off campus, don’t feel like you need to buy all your furniture brand new. While things like couches and mattresses you should be extremely wary of, tables, bed frames, dressers and desks are easy to find used for a quarter of the price. After a ton of Craigslist searching last year, I found a matching Ikea set from three different people—the total set cost me less than the dresser would have cost me brand new!
So there you have it, collegiettes—another 10 easy ways to save yourself some of your hard-earned dough. Have any other suggestions? Comment and let us know!