Cutting the Cost of College Living: A Few Pointers

on December 16, 2013

With all the money worries college brings – tuition, books, rent, student fees – a major concern will be finding ways to cut costs. One way to make a difference in expenses is in the way you live your daily life. There are ways to trim living costs that will put a decent dent in your bills without forcing you to live on bread and water.

Some of these methods work best for college students simply because you are a college student. You can make a play for people’s sympathy and ask for their help by giving you a break on the price of various goods and services.

But the bulk of these techniques, once learned, will serve you well after you leave college and head out into the great, wide world of work. Most first jobs won’t be paying top dollar. So, learning to live within your means while in college will be a major benefit to you in the future.

Some of these techniques are ones you’ve probably heard before, but that only means they are tried and true:

• Never pay retail – Always buy used whenever you can. This goes for everything from textbooks, to cell phones and electronics, to cars. Rent the things you won’t need permanently. Use the library. Share items with others and split the cost – the cost of a pizza for dinner, for instance. Thrift stores can hold some treasures in clothes and accessories. Of course you’ll need to make sure the used items are in good shape, but the savings over retail are often substantial. A car, for example, loses much of its retail value within the first year.

• Don’t take credit – Credit card bills can last much longer than your college career. Resist the high pressure sales schemes of your friendly banker who wants to entice you into that high-interest-rate card they seem to reserve for college students. Don’t have more than two or three credit cards with your name on them and cut up any cards over that number. Avoiding credit debt will more than pay off in your post-college years.

• Make a deal – If your car needs repair, you need a haircut, or you’d really like tickets to that new movie, ask for a discount. Don’t be shy, and admit you have tight money constraints. You’d be surprised how many people will cut you some kind of deal. Also, barter. Trade something you do for what you need done. Offer to help a student who’s good in auto mechanics with his chemistry studies. Dog-sit for your hair stylist and mow the lawn for your landlord. This should shave some dollars off the things you need.

There are bound to be other ways to save money while you’re living the college life. Be creative and remember that it costs nothing to try to cut corners. It could become a habit.


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