It’s all too easy to sign up for streaming or subscription services on auto-pay only to forget about them. For college students, monthly gym memberships are another sneaky expense that can easily go unused as study workloads increase. To save money, consider cancelling memberships or subscriptions you haven’t used for three months or more. Also, many streaming services offer bundled packages with other platforms; perhaps there’s a way to watch the show you’re currently binging for free. And if you can’t find the time to go to the gym or just don’t want to, there are workout regimens you can follow for free on social media platforms. You might be surprised by how much all this add up to – any found money can be applied to other areas of your budget, or to savings. To keep track of the numbers, try filling out a budgeting worksheet.
The latest and greatest technology
Don’t get pressured into thinking you need every new gadget. For example, the digital notepad and pen that translates handwritten notes into digital documents may seem like the answer to your note-taking prayers but taking notes on your computer works too! If you do decide that you need some new tech, consider buying a refurbished device or last year’s model. Sometimes, you can buy the prior version and still accomplish everything you need at a fraction of the price of the newest version. Skipping the high-tech gadgets upgrade each year could save tons of money.
School supplies and textbooks
No one likes seeing a chunk of money disappear when purchasing supplies and textbooks. Check out your syllabus as early as possible so you can be on the hunt for savings. Speak with your professor for guidance on how often you will use the assigned textbooks/supplies and whether alternatives exist. Most professors can provide you with some valuable advice. Looking for lightly used books or shopping online for lower prices may help you skip the school bookstore, which may have higher prices.
Another option is to rent the textbook or split the cost with a friend in the same class. Take special care of any textbooks you purchase, so you can get more from selling them when you finish using them. For staple items, like pens and notebooks, take advantage of the low prices of back-to-school season and stock up on things you know you will use often. And be sure to check with your parents for any leftover school supplies you didn’t use in high school.
Eating out and ordering in
Fast food and lattes are commonly named as culprits when money gets tight and are often the first suggested items to toss out of your monthly budget entirely. However indulging now and then can be OK. It’s how often you splurge that makes food a sneaky expense that can add up quickly. Challenge yourself to make cost-effective food choices.
For groceries, make a list, check it twice, and stick to it! Jotting down a proposed menu for the week will help you navigate your food needs and wants. For dining out, skip the delivery fees and pick up yourself, order off the value menu, or look up places that offer student discounts. The important thing is to plan food expenses ahead of time so that you can be mindful of how much you’re spending and get creative with ways to save.
When shopping for that killer deal, focus on the “use” aspect of a purchase more than the “bargain” aspect. An item is not such a bargain if it is never or rarely used, even those advertised at “50% off.” Clothing shopping is often a budget-breaker for college students. Instead of just going on an open-ended shopping trip, try analyzing your wardrobe first and deciding what you actually need. Then you can bargain shop for the items you know you’ll really use.
College life can get expensive but being mindful can make a big difference. Make a point of pausing and asking yourself if there could be a more cost effective choice before spending money. This can help you manage sneaky expenses, uncover savings, and stay on budget.