20 Ways People Waste Money on Nothing in College:

This list provides ways to cut down on your loans by saving money through simple research. A lot of this is directed towards freshman in college who don't know the first place to look to save money. Ready?

  • Rent a room off campus- Although you feel like you don't know anyone and need to live on campus your freshman year, you pay much more than renting an apartment. Trust me, you'll meet plenty of people; this is an easy way to save around $600 a year.
  • Don't get a meal plan, buy your own groceries- Again, easy way to save money. Or, better yet, grow your own groceries! If you buy in bulk at places like Costco, Walmart, and Price Rite you'll find that you spend maybe $40 a week!
  • Buy your booze in bulk- It's expected that everyone in college drinks. Of course, I'm not saying if you're under 21 you should, but if you are going to drink, buy 30-racks of all your beer and big handles of your hard liquor. It's a bit of a pain to carry around, but you spend much more if you buy just 6-packs and flasks of hard liquor.
  • Drink only on weekends- Another downer, try to cut off Thirsty Thursdays. I know, I know, it's what gets you through the week. This alone can save you $10 a week, $40 a month. It's only one night, and your class on Friday's grave will improve dramatically.
  • Drink Cheap- Buy the cheap stuff. Pabst Blue Ribbon, Old Milwaukee, Busch, Old English; there are tons out there, I'm not going to name them all. Or, of course, you can brew your own.
  • Get a monthly bus pass- This will only save you money if you commute to class five days a week. If it's just to go see your friends every weekend, chances are you aren't saving any money at all. A lot of times it seems like you'll use it much more than you do, but you aren't. Keep track of how many times you go on the bus the first month; chances are, afterwards you'll ride it about half as much. If that still validates the bus pass, go for it; if not, save your money.
  • Get a free checking + savings account (or MoneyMarket as I describe here)- A free checking or savings/MoneyMarket account is a great way to save yourself from being slammed with fees. Most banks give no-minimum accounts to college students, which is great when your bank account is floating around $7.35 as mine often was.
  • Don't get a credit card- So many people I know got credit cards for emergencies; the only emergencies I ever saw them use it for was a new skirt they "needed" for work that was 50% off. Don't bother with it.
  • Compare prices for books- Don't just buy your books from the school, there are plenty of places to check out for books. Abebooks.com, half.com, amazon.com-- usually I'll end up buying books from all of these places, not just one. Compare each book's price to each website, I often saved about $100 a semester this way.
  • Ramen Noodles- Ramen Noodles are a God-send. At $.12 a package, how can you beat them? Of course, they aren't really good for you per-se, but they fill you up when money is tight.
  • Become a Vegetarian- This is the hardest one for most people. Meat is one of the most expensive things that people buy; especially when barbaque season comes around. Veggie burgers are often cheaper than meat and healthier. Cutting out meat altogether can put money back in your pocket.
  • Stay away from expensive electronics- Say it with me, "Unless my Major is involved in technology, I do not need a Macbook Pro". Laptops that cost $500 are good enough for me, so they're good enough for you. Save yourself $1500 by buying a cheap laptop. Also, stay away from new Ipods, they WILL break. The same for Iphones or any other expensive new phone. The free ones always last forever, and when someone spills beer on it, so what?
  • Stay away from Monthly/Seasonal Payments- Get rid of your cable subscription, Netflix, home phone, Sports Illustrated, porn subscriptions, etc. These aren't necessary. Get the cheapest cell phone plan and internet (if you need it like I do); these will suffice.
  • You don't need new clothes- Every month girls need new clothes. Although their wardrobe is spilling out of their closet, they've got nothing to wear. However, once you get to college, guys are no different. You don't need new clothes, you need an iron and an ironing board. And if you need clothes, go to the thrift store.
  • Meet Skype- Want to cut out your expensive lengthy cell phone costs to your parents or significant other? Check out Skype; it's free, you can have video chats with people, and you can just talk like you're on the phone. Most newer computers have a built in microphone (and many have cameras as well), which makes this completely free to keep in touch with everyone if college is far away.
  • Find alternatives to the gym- Sell yourself as a dog-walker if you need exercise. Ride a bike to class. Go jogging. Use the school's gym. Do NOT get a membership, it is a waste of $40 a month.
  • Apply for one-time and online jobs- Sell your body to medicine for a day; write reviews for products on line; there are many ways to make money online (in fact, this blog is so far a failed test of such a thing). I haven't gotten it figured out yet, but so I hear...
  • Take community college classes for your gen-eds- I know, you chose your school because it's the best in your field. Well, during the summer, take some community college courses. These run usually around a couple hundred bucks a course (which beats the $2000 a course at private colleges), and can cut off a semester (or in my case, it was a year-- yep, $30,000 saved by spending $2,000 for two summers) from your college tuition.
  • Go to state school- I didn't do it, but I wish I had. Save huge amounts of money by going to state school. Save your money for Graduate.
  • Keep track of your spending- Last, save your receipts. Calculate your monthly expenses. Which of those don't you need? Cut them out for next month. Do this every month to keep track of where your money is running off to.

These 20 ways should help you save money this upcoming year in school. There are plenty of ways to make college work without walking away with over $100k of debt like so many people I know did, so start being smart about your money and you'll save more than you'd ever expect.

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