Slick Tips for Saving Money during Your College Years

Image by 401(K) 2012, Flickr

Image by 401(K) 2012, Flickr

The cost of college may represent one of the single most expensive investments in your life. However, that investment may pay out large dividends when used correctly. There are also several side expenses associated with college such as entertainment and meals that are often overlooked. Here are a few slick tips that can stretch those dollars, and help you avoid the headache of a draining bank account.

Stretch Those Meals
Many college students are on a combination of meal plans and budgets for cooked meals. You can save a considerable amount by making note of available meal plans versus cooking on your own. Staying in a dorm limits the type of food you can prepare due to restrictions on hot plates and other devices. However, you can often adjust meal plans to suit your needs in your room and board. Extend these services by reducing the cost of extras such as brewing your own coffee, or using a water filter to have fresh water.

Be sure to combine the collective costs of groceries with roommates as well. Putting meals “all in the pot”, and using money saving devices such as crock pot cookers, can save considerably on overall meal costs.

Consolidate Luxury Expenses
There are extra vices in college that come along with hidden costs. Some of the most expensive extras are going out to eat, and items such as cigarettes. Consolidating meals into groups, and using gadgets like online study tools reduce your overall costs substantially. Save even more with coupon codes for where you can find deals on many different kinds of items.

Tap into Career Centers
A great deal of the effort in college is preparation for using your degree for employment or advancement. Most colleges offer substantial free career planning resources. These career resource centers are also a hub for on campus jobs. The best way to save money in the long run, is to find on campus jobs that tie into your chosen major.

The added benefit is a perk on your resume, and reduced costs from career search programs after college. These resource centers provide you everything from resume critiques to mock interviews and can help you get a good head start for the future.

Libraries Are Your Best Friend
Public and university libraries provide a wealth of free resources that can save you money. Professors often put textbooks on reserve and scanned copies may be available on request. Check into these copies prior to class registration. Some professors have different book requirements, and a slightly older edition may be compatible as well.

A library can also provide free tunes and videos for your entertainment needs. Large libraries may also offer streaming services and e-books for tablet devices for free.

Navigating college requires dedication in both academics and finance. Most of the free resources found here are expanding rapidly and may dramatically reduce the cost of a traditional college experience. Some of the hidden expenses of entertainment can add up quickly and these tips are a surefire way to beat those costs.

This article was contributed by guest author Brooke Chaplan.

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