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7 ways to save money while at college

7 ways to save money while at college

If you’re at college, you’ll understand the struggles of saving money – the digging into the pockets, checking if you’ve got enough change to go out for the night, or making sure no food is wasted in the fridge before spending more money on groceries, and coming up with a few odd combinations in the process. So here’s a few easy tips on how to save money while you’re at school, from a fellow student who feels your pain!

1. Get a student ID card

Usually when you enroll, you’ll get a student ID card. Especially if you’re an avid shopper, or a lover for food, the card gets you a discount for most high street stores and restaurants, all of which will be displayed on the student card’s website. Many student ID cards also work at museums, movie theaters, and other local attractions, so you can find inexpensive ways to go out with friends or even take someone on a date! For me, my favorite is the NUS card – 40% off at Pizza Express Monday-Friday. Cheap and pizza, what’s not to love?

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2. Look for discount/promotion codes before you buy!

I can not emphasize this enough, the amount I’ve saved over the past couple of years just by spending a couple of extra minutes before checking out online by a quick Google search such as “discount codes asos september 2015.” You can find promotion codes that definitely help cut costs. Little things like these really make a difference and add up. You’ll find you can get a promotion code at most major stores before checking out.

3. When eating out, find restaurants that offer a student discount.

Are there certain times you can go when students eat cheaper? As mentioned before, a favorite of mine is 40% off at Pizza Express, but there’s lot of options available. When you’re living at in a college town, you’ll find a lot of places cater to students to persuade them to repeat purchase at their chosen place.

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4. Don’t want something? Sell it online.

We live in a generation where most of us are Internet savvy and can work many apps/sites pretty well. I’ve noticed a lot that when I go home for the holidays, there’s clothes just sitting in my wardrobe not getting used anymore. I use various sites such as Depop and Ebay to sell various items I don’t use anymore. When you’re just living off your student loans, extra cash is always handy!

5. Order food online.

This way your shopping list is filled with the exact food you need, rather than getting distracted with offers at the supermarket. On most supermarket websites you can save and name shopping lists, so you could have multiple shopping lists saved for example “Week 1” and “Week 2” each with ingredients for recipes, so you’re not eating the same thing but you’re also being selective in your items by using them all, and not being enticed from other foods and offers at the Supermarket.

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6. Freeze food.

Going out of date the next day? FREEZE IT! Just put it in the freezer and save it for another time, especially for meat. This saves so much money, as meat is an expensive food. Another tip is when buying a sliced loaf of bread, put it in the freezer. This will make it last longer and you can take out 2 slices the day before eating it.

7. Invest in a hip-flask.

Even when going out, use this to save money on alcohol, put it in the lining of your clutch bag, or down your top, or wherever. This way you don’t have to worry about spending loads of money on a night out but you still have lots of alcohol! The hip flask will soon become your best friend.

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Featured photo credit: Huffington Post via huffingtonpost.co.uk

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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