No money and no time to make money may be the hardest college equation you’re asked to solve in the next four years. How are you supposed to pay for tuition, living expenses, entertainment, travel and more when you’re in class, studying for exams, or trying to find and complete an internship? It’s hard, but it can be done.
Indeed, the best way for college students to make money is to save the money they have already earned — whether from part-time jobs or student loans — by practicing smart spending habits and using student discounts. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Choose a Money Management Tool
Whether it’s pen and paper, a simple spreadsheet or an app, you must come up with a way to track your spending. Mint, a free app, helps you create a customized budget, track your spending, pay your bills, and even learn about how to improve your credit score. When creating your budget, set goals for your spending, but be realistic. If you’re a foodie, don’t cut eating out completely — just limit yourself to a certain dollar amount each month. The same goes for gamers, sports enthusiasts, shopaholics and adventurers. To save money and stick to your budget, you don’t have to live a boring life — you just have to plan ahead.
Save and Splurge
When money management is on the mind, every activity, cup of coffee and weekend get together all of a sudden looks like dollar signs to you. These things, as well as fixed costs and unexpected expenses, are part of life. Figure out a balance of when to save and when to splurge — and recognize when doing either will benefit or break your budget in the future.
When it comes to insurance, for example, you don’t want to skimp now and then find yourself paying big bills later. The same goes for car maintenance. If you can avoid choosing cheap repair options now, they won’t keep popping up in the future. So, the next time your car gets a blowout, see it as an opportunity to invest in high-quality tires, which will save you money in the long run.
Discounts: Use, Don’t Abuse
Whether they advertise it or not, tons of businesses offer student discounts if you just ask. From technology and travel to entertainment, food and clothing, simply flashing your college ID can save you anywhere from 5 percent to 25 percent at many retail stores. For example:
- If you join or renew as a Sam’s Savings member, you’ll receive a $15 gift card with your student ID. In addition to groceries, varying Sam’s Club locations also offer members-only discounts on tire service, an optical center, pharmacy and more.
- Students can earn discounts on Adobe Creative Cloud by choosing between the All Apps plan (giving you access to the latest versions of every Adobe creative tool) or Photography plan (which includes Photoshop and Lightroom).
- The Student Advantage Discount Card from Greyhound will save you 20 percent on walk-up fares and online tickets. It also saves you 40 percent on package shipments sent through the company’s Package Express offering.
While these are all awesome discounts, remember, there’s a reason businesses offer student discounts: It’s because students usually don’t have a lot of money to spend. Don’t let yourself jump on the “But it’s such a good deal!” train. The key to saving money with coupons or student discounts is to only use them on products and services you already planned to buy.