Are you on a Budget? Here's How you Can Save!

College is a place for us students to learn necessary life skills, and the best way to do that is by taking fiscal responsibility. Knowing how to use your money is an important skill to have for everyone and can be very beneficial in the long run. Today, I will be listing some very important ways you can save money in college, so that you can use this opportunity to effectively manage your money, save for large expenses, and prepare for the future.

Find a job on campus. There are so many jobs on campus that it seems wasteful not to start gaining work experience. By getting an on campus job, not only will you be earning extra cash on the side, but you will start early on in your career experience. You will learn how to work with people, how to use your time wisely, and what it's like to have that responsibility of a job.

Prepare your own meals. Eating out every night may not be the smartest option if you are on a tight budget. Many restaurants can be overpriced and you definitely do not want to be crying after getting your bill. Take the extra effort to go grocery shopping, buy in bulk that way you save some extra money, and prepare your meals early in the morning before class. It may not seem like much, but the savings over the semesters will speak for itself.

Look for scholarships. We all know that one of the greatest expenses of getting a college education is the tuition we pay. This is why looking for scholarships can be a good idea. There are many scholarships out there, and all you have to do is apply to those that best fit you. The UIC College of Business Administration offers scholarships as well! Scholarships are great because they can take off a lot of burden from paying tuition and taking out unnecessary loans.

Take a summer class at a community college. Taking a required class at a community college can be a great way to save tuition dollars because classes will be much cheaper. Many of my friends are taking summer classes to get their general classes out of the way. Make sure to check that the class you take transfers at UIC. You can do this by going to www.transfer.org. You would be surprised to see how much you save by taking classes at a community college!

Buy used books. Buying used books can save you a ton of money in the long run. The beauty of buying used books is that you can sometimes even purchase the book for half the price! Now, once you are done using the book for the semester, you can always resell it to another student. Want to read more about saving money for textbooks? Read our previous blog: Here.

Rent books. Renting books can be significantly cheaper than purchasing a book. I rented a book for my IDS 200 class for just $27 dollars online! If I bought the book brand new, I would have had to pay around $200, and I payed only a fraction of that. Renting books can be nice because you can order the books online and have them shipped right to your door. Once you are done, you just have to ship it back to the vendor. It’s that easy!

Take advantage of student discounts. One of the best benefits of being a college student is the student discount. Believe it or not, you being a student can get you money off almost anything! This includes free drinks at restaurants, special offers on movie tickets, and even discounts on apparel. Many stores advertise whether they give student discounts and you could always just go online to see which stores have the best deals. I remember shopping downtown, and one of the stores gave a 10% student discount after I showed them my student ID. Now, this may not seem like a lot, but in the long run these discounts add up! If you don’t see anything advertised there is nothing wrong with being a little cheeky and asking the workers whether they have special discounts for students. (Note: Just because something has a student discount doesn’t mean it’s always the cheapest option, do your research beforehand!). :)

Be responsible when using credit cards. While credit cards may seem great, make sure to only use them when you know you can afford to pay something back. Don’t overuse your credit cards when you know you cannot afford the item because this will be harmful to your credit score. On the other hand, your credit cards are also a good way for you to establish a credit history. This is why it is definitely a good idea to build good credit habits early on in your college careers by paying the card entirely every month. Having a good credit score will be beneficial for you in the future once you graduate college which is why you should be smart when you use those credit cards.

Use your Ventra card. Like spending, driving sneaks up on you. Pretty soon, you have spent more on gas than you did on books. Why should you have to pay for gas on those car trips? This is where the Ventra card comes in. Every student at UIC has to purchase a Ventra card in the beginning of the semester. The Ventra card is great for college students because we have already paid for and, so why not put it to good use? You can use your Ventra card to take you to places around the city, this way, you don’t always have to waste money for gas. Another way to be smart when it comes to commuting is by walking to places that are nearby. Not only will this save you money in the long run, but you will also be getting in some exercise for the day! (Note: Ventra cards work all semester long, except for winter and summer breaks).

Commute from home. For many students, living on campus is one of the greatest attractions of the whole college experience. Despite this, many students choose to live at home and commute to class. There many reasons to why students choose to live at home and not on campus, and the main reason is cost. While the cost of tuition is one of the greatest expenses, room and board can add a substantial amount to the cost of a college education. I know a lot of students (including myself) who choose to live at home to save some money, and there is nothing wrong with that! Sometimes, students may worry that living at home means missing out on the traditional college experience, but that is not always the case. At UIC, we have many activities and groups specifically organized for commuter students that allow them to meet other student, so in the end, one can still easily get involved. Commuting your first couple of years can be beneficial to you because in the end, you are saving thousands of dollars.