Sometimes, it seems as if nothing in college is cheap. Books can cost upwards of $200, dining plans can cost several thousand, and the price of tuition is enough to cause a heart attack. Obviously, our number one piece of advice is go download the Go Commando app for iOS and Android and start earning cash so you don’t have to tame your spending habits. But, we’ve also got some great tips on how to curb your spending. Most advice for college students to save money goes along the lines of rent used books instead of buying new, or get a job! While those tips are solid advice, we at The Brief figured our readers were looking for something a little less conventional. So, here are five more creative ways to save money in college, that don’t go overboard.
1. ) Measure Your Expenses
Getting your expenses under control can be as easy as managing how you measure your spending. However, there is some conflicting advice out there about how to do this:
Some people recommend only using cash, while others recommend only using a credit card. Going cash-only might work for you because the feeling of physically handing over money makes an expense that much more real and comprehensible. On the other hand, going cashless means that once a month you receive a piece of paper with every embarrassing purchase you’ve made over the previous thirty days – a haunting reminder of your spending habits.
Find out which method works for you and consider making the switch.
2.) Swap Furniture
Furniture and décor are expensive, so if you feel the need to do any redecorating you should suggest a furniture swap with your friends. You get their coffee table, desk, and/or wall décor and they get yours. Whether it’s for a few months or a permanent exchange, it provides a change in scenery that’s completely free. Just don’t destroy your friends’ furniture if your plan on giving it back.
If you do decide to buy new (to you) furniture, buy it second hand or from a flea market. Brand new furniture is expensive, plus a surprising amount of it is designed to look older and worn-in. Why spend $200 on a coffee table that looks used when you can buy one that’s actually been used for $20?
Friendly competition makes everything more fun! Try comparing your expenses on utilities or groceries with your friends’, the goal obviously to be the most energy efficient or frugal. College is pretty much the only time in your life when being super cheap is cool, so go crazy! If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing (maybe). Just don’t stop showering in an attempt to save the planet because that might be taking things a little too far.
4.) Make Your Own Coffee
This one seems obvious, but college coffeehouse profits seem to suggest that most people don’t know about it. Brew your own coffee! More importantly, use a cheap coffee maker. There’s nothing a $150 Keurig can do that an $18 Mr. Coffee machine can’t. Plenty of companies sell their coffee by the pound at local stores (yes, including Starbucks) – typically around $8. One pound of Arabica beans can brew 16 12-oz cups of coffee, which would otherwise cost upwards of $36 from a coffee shop. Not that the appeal of a café’s atmosphere should be forgotten (I’m currently writing this blog post in a café), but if you only go to buy coffee and rarely stick around for anything else then consider brewing your own. You’ll break even within about four cups, or on Thursday for you daily coffeehouse customers. Plus, most supermarkets offer a much wider variety of coffees than your local coffee shop.
5.) Stay In
Going out isn’t cheap, and although bars may be fun, drinks can be a drain on your wallet – $4 for a beer and $7 for a mixed drink. Not to mention, the price of food and gratuity (PSA – tip your waiters). Instead of having a night out with friends, consider having a night in. Netflix and drinks at home with a group is a lot less expensive than a night on the town and can be just as fun. Plus, if you put your laptop on the coffee table you got from your friend’s apartment, everyone can see the movie just fine, even “Becky” in the kitchen while she brews the group a fresh pot of coffee (see what I did there?).
Those are just five creative ways of saving money in college. We hope all of them are mostly feasible and at least a little fun. There are countless other methods of penny-pinching just waiting to be explored. Do you have any secret or unique ways of saving cash? Let us know!