Not only does she have a knack for finding fun and local activities to do, she is also a coupon/frugal living queen. She is an engineering college student with meager means and also tries to help out her family, so some of it is out of necessity. But I feel a large part of it is because she likes a challenge, and being frugal is kind of like solving a puzzle! Trust me, I've tried to navigate the whole couponing thing on my own and have given up.
Since she is a frugal-living pro at this point, I thought it would be great if she could share some of her tips that she has gleaned so far.
Ten ways to save money in college: whether you are a commuter or living in dorms (in no particular order):
1. Use digital coupons! Buying newspapers and printing coupons are a great way to save money, but not always cost effective if you don’t use them. Ink is expensive and coupons in the newspaper are really hit or miss. Try Saving Star. It allows you to save money by connecting your loyalty cards from drug or grocery stores. After clipping $5 and purchasing the times you can redeem the savings into your bank account, PayPal or in the form of a gift card. All you have to do it load the coupons to your account and you are set. It’s takes 2 to 22 days after the transaction to receive the money in your Saving Star account. Stores such as Rite Aid and Safeway stores allow you to load coupons onto your loyalty card. It only takes a few minutes every week to load them on the card and you will never know then it will come in handy!
2. Take public transit! Most schools will have discount prices for public transit whether it is in the form single ride tokens or passes that could be used for the whole term. My college offers a bus pass that is incorporated into school fees. I am already paying for it, so I always try to use it as much as I can to save on gas!
3. Make your car gas efficient! It’s tempting to store things in the car because we live in small places, but the less weight in your car equals more miles you can drive per gallon you can get. Also make sure when you go gas station to check your tire gauge! It’s a little tricky but don’t be scared to ask for help. Making sure your tires are filled with the proper air pressure will help it run more gas efficiently. Use apps like Gas Buddy available on Android, iPhone and Blackberry to find cheapest gas or use rewards program like Safeway to score up to $0.50/gallon just from buying groceries!
4. Rent books! Let’s face it, you probably won’t need some books ever again. My friend was complaining to me when she bought a used chemistry book for $120. It was like $180 for a new book! Prices of books are crazy! If you aren't going to use a book again,
it’s probably best to rent it. You can rent from either your school bookstore or check out Campus Book Rentals to save anywhere from 40 to 90% off. Some awesome perks about using Campus Book Rentals is that there is free shipping both ways, you can highlight the books (this was one thing my bookstore didn't allow me to do), pick your rental period and a donation is made to Operation Smile when you rent a book!
5. Rent books you already have! It seems like a good idea to just sell and get it over with, but what if you could rent it out multiple times and possible make 2 to 4 times more than just selling? Rent Back does just that! You ship your book to them for free and they find students and need your book! You can keep renting it out as long as people are wanting to rent it! The best part is you can search the books you already own to see how long the book will be in demand, how much you can make and how many times you can rent it out. You just might be able to make back the money you spent on the book!
6. Cut cable! If you live in your own place, it’s really nice to have TV to watch, but you should be studying! A few pretty good substitutions are Hulu (or Hulu Plus if you want to watch on the TV) and Netflix. For more entertainment on the budget, check out the event section of your local newspaper (or the online version) and websites dedicated to all things cheap in your area! My favorite by far is Fun Cheap SF but check out the board at the coffee shop or the bulletin board at school. I've seen free Zumba classes at local rec centers and libraries! There are great things to go like free music and movies in the park or check out GoFobo (you may need an RSVP code) to check free movie screening near you! It’s great way to make most of breaks =)
7. Don’t buy Starbucks or get coffee everyday! Think about it, if you buy coffee Monday through Friday, that is like $20 to $25 a week and around $100 a month. That is the cost of a monthly cellphone bill. Use a coffee press at home to make coffee, buy a milk frother or pour in delicious creamer. I know it’s not the same thing, but try to resist the urge to go too often. But do sign up for Starbucks Rewards! Sometimes they send out great deals on coffee and you get free a drink or food item your during the month of your birthday!
8. Sign up for birthday or frequent buyer clubs at your favorite eateries! If you have to have a favorite restaurant or drink shop, always check if they have a club you can join for every savings via e-mail or even a frequent buyer card. Also stock up anytime you can get a great deal on gift cards like during the holiday season or at warehouses if you know you are going to spend money there anyway. Some are buy $50 and get an extra $10 or buy $40 and get a free drink. Gift cards never expire and they make great last minute gifts!
9. Make use of health center on campus! They are loaded with most of the OTC medicine you would need for colds, flues allergies, minor first aid, coughs and even contraceptives! Some schools set limits on how many you can pick up, but just make sure to read the packet to see much you will need to take for your day.
10. Buy in bulk and split with friends! I don’t personally have a membership to a warehouse club, but I have friends and family that are. Being in college doesn't always mean you have a lot of space to store things, but if you can rally a few other friends you can split toiletries and even cases of energy drink! Plus walking around eating samples makes the experience more fun!
Feel free to follow on my blog Making it Work.
Thanks to my dear friend It's Like A Potato for letting me guest blog!