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As we all know, trying to save money while in college can be hard. Trying to make ends meet while also going to class and worrying about the looming debt over your heads can make anyone go crazy. With rising tuition cost and the cost of living expenses going up can make it hard for anyone to stay on a budget. However, this does not mean that you have to keep the status of a “starving student”– believe me, there are plenty of ways to save money while in college.

1. DON’T Buy New Textbooks

Textbooks are not surprisingly expensive. Before you go and hit the campus bookstores, see if there is a chance that you can borrow the textbook from a former student in that class. If not, the next best option is to rent or buy your textbooks from Amazon, Chegg, or Barnes & Noble’s textbook service. You can also find digital textbooks online that are way cheaper and will expire after your class is over.

2. DON’T Leave Home Without Your Student ID

There are tons of discounts out there for current college students. Discounts can range from clothing all the way to electronics, like computers or Spotify subscriptions. For example, here at Murray State, you can get student discounts for clothing at local boutiques, like Ribbon Chix and Careys. Additionally, you can get discounts on amenities like soaps from Buff City, manicures and pedicures from Lovely Nails, and food from Fazoli’s. Basically, always have your student ID on hand because you never know when it will save you money.

3. DO Limit Your Meals Out

If you have bought a meal plan from your university, then be sure to use it! Aside from a few discounts, eating out can add up quickly. Consider investing in a good coffee maker instead of spending money on coffee every morning, and try and make meals at home if you can.

4. DO Choose Housing Wisely

It usually costs less to live off-campus than it does to live in the dorms.  You can even stretch out your housing cost if you can get a roommate.

5. DO Explore Campus Amenities

Check out all of the activities that your campus has to offer. There are things from movie nights to fitness classes that will be offered for free. Additionally, there are plenty of fraternities and sororities on campus that host events that are fun to go to.

6. DO Limit Your Car Usage

The cost of gas, insurance, and parking passes can add up. Try to limit your time on the road so you can have more money in your pocket for things that you really want. There are other options like public transportation that can help get you to class or back to your apartment.

7. DO Visit Your Local Bank

Ask about checking and saving accounts that are specifically designed for current students. These will often have almost no fees and no minimum balance required. To check your balance and avoid expensive overdraft fees, use online banking to check your balance daily. This also helps to catch expenses that you may have not made, which will end up saving you a lot of money in the future.

8. DO Monitor Cell Phone Usage

Ask a lot of questions when you are getting a new cell phone plan to make sure that you are getting the best deal. Additionally, go into your settings in your phone and set a data limit, so that it will alert you if you are about to exceed your data limit for that month. Make sure that you also understand your phone settings– weakened Wi-Fi can force your phone to switch over to data when you are unaware of it.

9. DON’T Be Careless of Credit Cards

If you do elect to get a credit card, choose one that has the lowest interest rate and only charge what you can afford to pay off at the end of the month. This will help you to avoid late fees and costly credit card debt while you establish good credit for your future.

10. DO Stay Focused On Your Studies!

Many students do not complete their degree within four years, and every semester that you stay will add up to another big expense. To stay on track, take advantage of university resources like tutoring and academic advising. 

Bonus Tips

Buy in bulk: Get a membership card for a store like Sam’s Club where you can pick up nonperishable items and toiletries in bulk.

Meet application deadline: Some scholarships renew each year. If you do take the time to reapply, be sure to get your forms and letters of recommendation on time.

Start paying off interest now: If you took out student loans to help pay for college, make in-school payments while you can. Even just $10 a month can make a big difference in a huge loan.

Don’t Stress. There is no big secret as to how college students save money– it just takes a lot of discipline and some common sense. Remember that you are in college to get your education and earn your degree.  Meeting your academic and budgetary goals will not only help you make the most of your college experience, but it will help you start your financial future off right. 

Gabrielle Gray

Murray State '22

Gabrielle Gray is currently a senior at Murray State University majoring in Elementary Education.Other than attending classes, you can find her drinking coffee at Shaffer Coffee Co., eating sushi from Market 22 in the Curris Center, or helping out around the university. Gabrielle is heavily involved at Murray State University by being one of the College of Education and Human Services senators for the 2020-2021 academic year for the Murray State University Student Government Association, volunteering for events being held around campus, as well as being a social butterfly. Check her out this Fall at the Springer housing desk, or when she occasionally works at her second home: Dan's Southern Prep.
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