When people think about college it is not often that the word “saving” comes to mind. After tuition, textbooks, room and board and extracurricular activities, it’s no wonder that college students are living off ramen noodles for the majority of their university tenure. However, there are a few choices that college students can make that will help them begin to build their funds for when they are thrown out into the real world.
- Get a Free Checking and Saving Account
As a student, many banks will offer a student-friendly account that is free and easy to use. Do your research to find a bank that not only offers free accounts to student but who also may have yield specials for your first deposit. Other important qualities that will help you avoid the nickel-and-diming of a bank are free checks, free access to online banking, zero transfer fees and no ATM fees. Banks will still want your business even as a student, so don’t shy away from asking for what you want.
- Shop Smart
One of the best ways to cut costs while in school is to buy your own food. While colleges will offer meal plans to students, these plans are often way overpriced for a basic student’s needs. Save money by going grocery shopping each week and buy only things that you will use before they expire. Make a meal plan and stick to it. Research comparable brands or go with generic if it offers the same nutrition. It is possible to get your daily caloric value on the cheap if you take the time to learn how to cook and plan accordingly.
- Ditch the Car
Having a car in college may seem like an absolute need, but many colleges are surrounded by public transportation. If possible, sell your car and instead take the train or bus where you need to go. Chances are, one of your friends will have a car that can be used for outings and errands. Students without a car will not have to worry about car payments, insurance, gas or maintenance costs.
- Pay Interest on Student Loans
If you have some wiggle room in the budget, try and pay the interest on student loans while you are still taking classes. Interest can build up drastically in four years and if you can keep it to a minimum, you’ll be better off in the end when your grace period ends six months after graduation. Many loans offer this option and school advisors can help set up payment plans that are manageable.
- Work Somewhere that Offers Free Food
Getting a part-time job while in school is a great way to earn extra cash and put some away for savings as well. If you can, kill two birds with one stone and try and find a gig working at a place that serves food. Many of these places will offer a free meal during or after your shift and that saves you the cost and trouble of putting together something on your own. Many of these cafes also understand that their staff will mostly be students which allow room for a flexible schedule – more time to devote to studying for Vermont Law’s environmental masters programs.