How to Save Money in College

Dear Freshmen - How not to Become a Poor College Student

It’s almost inevitable. When you work for one season of the calendar year and spend the remaining three on a city campus, your bank account will diminish - and faster than you think. Though city living is expensive, there are ways around the ridiculous prices. Here are a few tips and tricks for navigating through your first year without becoming totally broke:

1.  Avoid CVS. I know it’s right on the way home and has everything you could ever need... but for five times the price it should be. It can be really easy to get into the habit of picking up a snack at CVS on your way home, but it’s an expensive habit to maintain. Opt for the C-Store and other campus affiliated shops so you don’t have to spend “real” money. Sure, the little C-Store doesn’t have everything that CVS does, but it’s better to buy your snacks and laundry detergent somewhere that accepts BoardBucks (money you’ve already bought) and isn’t incredibly overpriced. Always look for cheaper alternatives, as spending money so easily and often can catch up to you quite fast! *CVS does accept EC Cash, but that adds up when you’re constantly loading $20 on to your card.

2.  Look for discounts. Boston is a college town, and a lot of businesses recognize that. It never hurts to ask if whatever store you’re shopping at has a college discount. Most outfitter stores have at least a student discount day, if not every day. Restaurants like Subway, Chipotle, and Qdoba have special offers and discounts for college kids. And always consider asking when you’re going out for fun - Emersonians can get into the MFA and the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum for free, and the Aquarium and some local movie theaters have some great discounts too. Check out this Her Campus National article for a complete list of businesses that offer student discounts!

3.  Get a part-time job. A lot of students are against this idea, especially in their first semester of school. The truth is that a part-time job isn’t as time-consuming as you’d think, especially if it’s affiliated with your college. A side job - even if it’s just a few hours a week - can keep you going through the school year. It’s always nice to have an income, no matter how small! Check Emerson’s website and local shops and restaurants for job opportunities - it doesn’t hurt to look into it!

4.  Limit yourself. By now you’ve probably gotten a feel of what you’ll need to buy on a regular basis (laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc.) and what kind of money you’ll be spending. Try to set a weekly budget for yourself - maybe allow yourself to go out for dinner once a week and set aside some extra cash for fun activities, but it shouldn’t end up being too much! Even better, try to set a semester budget for yourself. Put a set amount in your checking account (accessible from your debit card and ATM) and the rest of your money in your savings account until next semester. This will make ensure that you limit yourself and have some money for the spring!

Living in the city will always be expensive, but there are ways to avoid spending too much too quickly. Always keep your bank account on your mind so you don’t end up a broke college student before the year is over!