8 Lifestyle Changes that Can Save a Starving Student

Summer is a great time to rebuild your bank account. Regardless if you’re a fulltime student nine months out of the year or you work part time year round, the summer months are when students reload their “money guns” to help support their annual education budget.

But is it enough to just stock up on cash annually for three months and create a solid budget? More often than not the answer is no, which means you have to find other creative ways to save money throughout the year. The key to success in this regard is to plan ahead. So in the spirit being proactive about where your money goes BEFORE you spend it, here are eight things you can do now, so that once the school year gets rolling you can spend less (and save more).

  1. Check Your Mobile Phone Plan
  2. If you’ve had the same mobile phone plan for more than two years, chances are you’re paying too much for your phone service. In an effort to get people to buy new phones and phase out old plans mobile phone companies have revamped their pricing and plans so often it’s like trying to keep up with a hyperactive kindergartener at an amusement park just to stay on top of it all. For a comparison of your current plan versus what you could be getting in your area check out MyRatePlan.com. You’ll be surprised. Even the smallest adjustments to your plan can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

  3. Get Rid of Cable TV
  4. Yes, we know you love Comedy Central and all the politically incorrect cartoons on Fox, but you don’t have to pay a $75 (or more) a month for cable or satellite just to watch your favorite shows. Bite the bullet and purchase either an Apple-TV box or a blueray player with built-in wifi (each around $200) and you can watch all the cable shows you want for FREE through Hulu, YouTube, and each network’s individual broadcast website. Increase your Internet connection to the highest speed possible and make sure you have an HD flat screen TV, which you can purchase at Costco now for less than $200 (or just use your computer screen). Yes, these are all up front expenses, however, they’re one-time expenses that can save you up to $1,000 a year.

  5. Sign Up for Student Bank Accounts
  6. Just about every bank now offers some sort of student checking and/or savings account options that don’t charge monthly account or transaction fees; or if they do they’re minimal. For example, Bank of America has a student account plan that’s free if you choose to do all your banking online. And Bank West has a student account that’s completely free for basic checking (online or otherwise), with no minimum balance, and free use of an ATM card. Shop around (google “no fee student bank accounts”) and put your money into a bank that will let you keep it ALL. You could end up saving anywhere from $120 to $500 per year.

  7. Rent a Place With a Washer/Dryer
  8. Even if you end up paying a little more per month in rent, rent a place that comes with its own free, private laundry facilities (for use by tenets only). Laundromats can cost anywhere from $2 to $5 per load to wash and $3 to dry. If you do your laundry once a week that adds up to the tune of about $500 per year, minimum. Plus schlepping your dirty clothes to the basement, rather than across town to the local Laundromat, is a huge convenience and saves times.

  9. Buy e-books or Used Books
  10. Many teachers are now assigning college reading online by using websites such as CampusGrotto.com. Now college students can download their textbooks for a fraction of the cost, plus they won’t break their backs lugging them around. Find out ahead of time if your college utilizes some sort of e-book service, and if not see what you can do this summer to get your school to sign up with one of these programs. It saves both the schools and students a ton of money and it’s a green option to physical books.

  11. Learn to Cook
  12. Eating out is one of the main sources of money drain for most students. Restaurants, even fast food joints, are expensive, plus you don’t get the nutritional value you need to keep a clear head for learning. So this summer, take some cooking classes on how to prepare fast, simple, yet healthy dishes. Learn how to shop ahead of time so you don’t make binge runs to the corner Quickie Mart. And get in the habit of keeping healthy snacks in the house, such a fresh fruit, juices, and homemade cookies (that you make on the weekend so they’re available to you throughout the week). With just a little planning, you can save hundreds to thousands of dollars a year by making your own meals.

  13. Take Public Transportation
  14. Depending on where you live there is probably bus or light rail service that drops you off pretty near your school. And if you have to walk a block or two afterward, all the better. You could probably use the exercise. However, if transportation is not nearby, consider ridding a bike or moving to a place that IS on a bus line. Ditching your car saves you a wad of cash in terms of gas, car maintenance, and parking.

  15. Clip Coupons
  16. Yes, this sounds ridiculously suburban but using coupons at the grocery store really does save money. According to the Wall Street Journal coupons are back in fashion, mainly due to the recession. However, in order to stimulate the economy manufacturers are issuing more coupons than ever, so much so that people are saving up to 80-90% on their grocery bills. Again, the key is planning ahead, clipping the coupons in the Sunday paper and finding the best online deals (like Groupon).

Saving money during college can (and should) become a way of life. And if you get really good at it, those habits spill over to your post college years. So even when you eventually have money pouring in from your lucrative career, you’ll have much more disposable income to spend on the things you really want if you spend wisely. Nothing feels better than splurging on a big ticket item you’ve been saving up for for years (like your dream home).

Have you got a money saving tip or idea? Share it with us. No one is ever too rich that they can’t afford to save a little extra money (especially during college).

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