5 Ways to Save Money in College

photo credited to 401(K) 2013

Photo credited to 401(K) 2013

This week, I wrote a guest post on fellow blogger Ashley’s website, Saving Money in your Twenties. (She’s awesome, and she really enjoys my recipe for Thanksgiving Chicken Breasts… she liked it so much that she blogged and tweeted about it and led me to discover her amazing website for twenty-something-year-olds =P) Ashley also wrote this guest post for my website, too, with excellent money-saving tips for all you full-thyme college students. Enjoy! And look out for more guest posts on the blog. I’ll be featuring many more soon 🙂

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Hi, Full-Thyme Student readers! I am Ashley and I blog over at Saving Money in your Twenties. I’m a fairly recent college grad (does 25 still make me a “recent grad”?!) who did something really crazy – I quit my awesome office job to start my own financial coaching business. I love helping people save money, and I hope I can help you do that today, too!

things I wish I realized

Looking back on my college years, I’m a little bummed that I didn’t take advantage of all the awesome opportunities that college life offered. College is one of the best times to figure yourself out, do crazy things, and most importantly, be an extreme cheapskate without anyone questioning it. Here are my suggestions for getting more out of your college experience without going broke.

1. Spend money on things you enjoy.

Try to spend your money deliberately- if you stop spending money on things you DON’T enjoy doing, you’ll have more money left to do the things you truly DO enjoy.

For example, it took me a loooong time to realize that I don’t really like going to bars – every time we went to one, I regretted it because I felt like I was wasting my money. I eventually realized that I preferred to have people over to my house rather than go out to a noisy bar. So I started inviting friends over more often to hang out at my place. Even if I spent money buying food or drinks for a party, I didn’t regret the expense because I was enjoying myself much more.

2. Drink cheap.

For those who are of legal drinking age: don’t feel embarrassed to drink cheap alcohol! Keep drinking it as long as you can stand it… even after you graduate 🙂 Cheap boxed wine? YES! Cheap plastic handles of vodka? YES! Whatever you do, don’t become a wine snob or beer snob or whatever snob. Becoming a snob will just banish you to a life of fancy (aka expensive!) drinking.

3. Get free stuff!

Take advantage of all the free activities/food/items you can on campus. Some of my friends got “too cool” for on-campus activities during our junior and senior years. But tons of those on-campus activities were F-R-E-E and provided delicious meals or awesome entertainment- why on earth would you turn that down?! Don’t get too cool for school… embrace your college status and do college things. Those four (or five, or six…) years will fly by before you know it.

4. Get a job.

I had a bunch of friends who worked zero hours throughout their entire college experience. Don’t be one of those people! Getting a job – even for 10 hours a week – will allow you to make some extra cash and will give you that oh-so-important on the job experience. Believe me, this will pay off when you graduate and start job hunting. No employer wants to hire a college grad who’s never held a job in their life.

Try looking for on campus jobs – you’ll probably be able to walk to work and you can hang out with your peers. Win-win!

5. Start saving.

That being said, be sure to save some of your hard earned money! It might be tempting, but please don’t spend all the money you make! Open a savings account with your bank (or a higher-interest online account somewhere like Ally Bank) to stash your money.

Once you graduate, you’ll be out in the real world, and bills and expenses will start popping up all over the place. You’ll feel more like a grown-up when you can handle your car repair bill without having to ask Mom and Dad for a loan.

Do you have any other tips for surviving college without going broke?

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