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Top 10 Ways for College Students to Save Money

Jul 30, 2008

Sick of being broke? Here are the top ten ways for college students to save money on campus and off. (Includes links to 30 resources that you can check out today.)

Money

1. Look for Free Books

Textbooks and required reading materials can bankrupt you when you're a college student. You can save cash by looking for free books online. There are a number of different websites that offer both books and textbooks for free. The free copies contain the exact same content and are worth getting whenever possible.

2. Buy and Sell Used Textbooks

  • Swapbooks.com - Buy, sell and swap used textbooks with this free service.
  • Half.com - Buy and sell used textbooks through this ebay company.
  • Ecampus.com - Buy used textbooks for 50 to 90 percent off the cover price; sell your used textbooks without paying for shipping.

Buying and selling used textbooks is a good way to save money and make money at the same time. Used books can be up to 90 percent cheaper than new books. And when you're finished with what you buy there's no reason why you can't get a few bucks out of them yourself.

3. Live On Campus

  • Apartment Guide - Compare the cost of living on campus with the cost of living in nearby apartments.
  • Rent.com - Ebay company that lets you compare the cost of living on campus with the cost of living in nearby apartments.
  • Campus Live - Find deals and events on your campus.

The number one reason to live on campus is money. Students who are on campus or in university housing often have lower rent costs, as well as easier access to cheap food, transportation and other resources.

4. Reduce Off Campus Expenses

  • Live By Campus - Use this site to search for affordable, off campus housing.
  • My New Place - Search for cheap apartments nationwide.
  • Living Off Campus - Off campus living advice from College Board.

If living on campus just isn't an option you are willing to consider, you should at least make an effort to reduce your off-campus expenses. The easiest way to do this is to find an apartment with cheap rent and get a roommate (or two, or three) that is willing to split costs with you.

5. Travel Inexpensively

  • Statravel - The world's largest student travel organization.
  • Student Universe - Cheap tickets from an online student travel agent.
  • Smarter Travel - This site summarizes deals on student travel.

Road trips are fun, but they can be a huge draw on your bank account. Try to limit the costs of daily, weekly and occasional travel whenever possible. This may mean using public transportation, carpooling or seeking out travel deals.

6. Lower Communication Costs

  • Skype - Make free calls from your computer.
  • Meebo - Free instant messaging application.
  • Easy Chat Server - Host and manage your own chat room.

Chatting with faraway friends and family members can be downright unaffordable if you do all of your talking on the phone. You can save yourself the trouble of paying for overpriced minutes by using alternative communication methods.

7. Find a Bank That Will Cater to You

You can save yourself unnecessary expense if you find a bank that will cater to your needs. There are a lot of different banks that offer free checking and savings accounts to college students. Other banks have reduced ATM fees and similar deals that aren't available at the average financial institution.

8. Improve Your FICO Score

A good credit score ensures that you pay a lower interest rate on student loans, credit cards and other types of loans. Although it takes time to raise your FICO score, there are steps that you can take to boost the number little by little. To start, pay all of your bills on time. Then, see if you can obtain a credit card or two--just make sure that you pay the balance off immediately when you charge.

9. Apply for Scholarships and Financial Aid

Grants and scholarships are a great way to pay for your college expenses because this type of aid does not need to be paid back. Search actively for scholarships and other types of financial aid at the beginning of each year.

10. Manage the Money You Do Have

  • My Spending Plan - Free online budgeting software and financial planning tools.
  • My Budge - Track your spending from your iPhone.
  • Google Spreadsheets - Free spreadsheet application to help you keep track of your ingoing and outgoing expenses.

It is extremely important for you to micro-manage your money while you are in college--especially since you don't have a lot of the green stuff lying around. Do your best to track what you have coming in and what you have going out for at least a month. Then, create a sensible budget that you can stick to.


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