I don’t think I’m breaking this news to any of you, but student life can get expensive. Careful planning and setting a realistic budget will help you start the school year on strong financial footing.
Here are a few tips to help you turn common spending occurrences into potential savings opportunities.
While it may be ideal to roll out of bed and into the classroom, it isn’t reality for most. Before arriving on campus, take a look at the transportation options available and compare costs. If you need to look beyond the campus bus to public transportation, keep an eye out for any student discounts or monthly rates that might ease the burden on your wallet. If you plan on bringing a car to campus, read through your school’s parking policies and rates when it comes to getting the right parking pass. Also, pay close attention to street signage on and around campus. Parking enforcement officers are out there, and sometimes it can be more important to know where not to park.
2. Dining out and entertainment
Everyone loves the dining hall, but most aren’t open 24/7. When you need fuel for a late-night study session or if you’re exploring a new part of town on the weekend, make sure you set a budget and stick to it. Check to see if local restaurants offer student discounts or a special affiliation with your school. Some attractions like museums and art galleries offer discounted or even free admission to students. Putting the books down and experiencing everything your college town has to offer is an important investment to make responsibly.
3. Books and Supplies
Whoever said ‘you can’t put a price on education’ probably hasn’t bought an organic chemistry textbook recently. Do your shopping. Look at the price of used books, rentals and digital-only options. Consider sending an email to the professor to see if an older — and likely more affordable — version of a textbook will do. When it comes to other unique supplies like financial calculators or lab equipment, check with friends or students who have taken the class in the past. See if anyone in your student network may be willing to lend a used item or help you secure what you need for a bit less.
Nearly everything is done online – including major exams. You need to make sure you have the right technology to thrive. Major software companies like Apple and Microsoft offer student deals and education pricing on both hardware and software. Technology is not one-size-fits-all for all areas of study. Check with your department to get a better idea about what your technology needs will be this semester and in the coming years to avoid having to make additional technology purchases down the line. While saving money is important, make sure you are spending what you need for reliable technology. And don’t for get to “save” early and often.
5. Emergency Fund
The earlier you start saving, the better off you will be in the future. While your main objective is to learn as much as you can, if you have a part time job and can afford to set aside even a small portion of that income, you’ll be more prepared to weather an unexpected expense…or a ticket home for Thanksgiving.
Managing your money can feel challenging, especially in college. A budget can help you understand how much you want to save or spend, and lead to smarter money decisions. To help stay on top of your money and build solid financial habits early on, you can visit chase.com/student.
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