With each passing year, college becomes more and more expensive for every new student that decides to throw their hat into the ring. While the pursuit of an associate or undergraduate degree is laudable, there’s no reason why you should bankrupt yourself along the way. If you’re the penurious type, you could easily save yourself a ton of money over four years with these tips.
Use Credit Cards Sparingly
It’s easy for college students to rack up debt at preposterous interest rates if they’re not careful. While you should have one card to build credit and deal with unforeseen expenses, it’s best to pay upfront rather than borrow. Make sure that the card you do choose has no annual fee and plenty of bonuses.
Start a Rainy Day Fund
Even if you save $20 a week, you’ll have over $4,000 in cold, hard cash by the time you earn a degree. More importantly, that reserve will help you to avoid borrowing money if something like a totaled car or a health emergency crops up. This will save you big money on interest payments for bank loans.
Learn to Track Down Discounts
While clipping coupons is associated with senior citizens living on Social Security, the practice can save you thousands every year. Thanks to the web, it’s easier than ever to find online discount codes for everything from IKEA furniture to copier toner cartridges. Use Google Alerts, Groupons and digital rebates to trim your expenses for necessities to a minimum.
Buy Used Whenever Possible
Even before matriculating, you should know that brand-new textbooks from the campus store are a ripoff. Buy your books used online instead. You can probably buy the books that you need in your own town or city from graduate students unloading their undergraduate course materials. Used furniture stores and Goodwill are prime locations to scout great deals on lightly used merchandise.
Graduate Early If You Can
By taking 18 to 20 credits per semester as well as summer classes, any coed can finish a degree in three years. Before you decide to go down this road, weigh the pros and cons of early graduation for your specific major. If you attend a private college, the savings accrued by ditching that fourth year can be substantial.
Experience Is the Best Teacher
It’s unlikely that you’ll become a financially savvy college student right off the bat just by reading a few articles on the web. In some cases, you need to take a major hit to the wallet by making a major mistake to learn your lesson. In any event, these tips should apply universally to students at any school.