By Thùy Ngân
Money. It’s on the mind of every single college student. With rising tuition and a big loan waiting to be paid off, I’m sure you want to get the biggest bang for your buck. Lucky for us, there are plenty of ways to save money as a college student. Here’s how!
Saving money isn’t about not traveling altogether! It’s about traveling smart. Use a fare comparison website to make sure you’re getting the best deal, such as Google Flight or www.priceline.com. Make use of your student status for discounts on various modes of travel, such as Greyhound for buses, Amtrak for trains, and www.studentuniverse.com for flights & hotels. You can also spend $25 to purchase an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) to enjoy lots of discounts all over the world. For example, I’ve seen really cheap flight deals if you use an ISIC to purchase tickets through STA travel.
2. Choosing your phone plan
A lot of students share a family plan to lower the cost, usually with one of the 4 big carriers in the US, namely Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint. Remember to ask other students in your school before settling on a carrier to make sure the reception is good.
Family plans are great but if you can survive mostly on Wifi to use Skype/Viber/Facebook Messenger, definitely look into pre-paid, no-contract plans of low cost carriers. Some low cost carriers run on the networks of the big 4 carriers, so reception shouldn’t be a problem. Consider Pay-As-You-Go plans from Republic Wireless, US Mobile, or H2O Wireless to name a few. These plans can cost as little as $10 for a 3-month period.
3. Choosing a bank
You’ll probably have people to help you with choosing a bank, but it’s good to keep in mind a few points. Choose a bank that has conveniently located ATMs to avoid fees when you withdraw money from an ATM not owned by your bank. If you want to get a credit card, pay it off completely every month instead of just the minimum amount to build a good credit score. Credit cards can be risky if you tend to overindulge but there are also perks such as cash rewards every time you make a purchase. The Discover it® credit card can even give you $20 for every term your GPA is above 3.0!
4. Shopping for books
Your cheapest option is to look for an e-book, scan your text or check it out from the library. The next best option is buy or rent used books. I always use www.bigwords.com to compare deals across a range of online sellers. You can also buy books from your school mates. To save even more, ask your professors if you can use an older version of the text because it tends to be cheaper. You can always scan the missing chapters in the library.
5. Shopping for everything else
I guess everybody knows about the holiday sales, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Days, etc. Apart from that, you should look up the date of the tax-free weekend in your state. You can also visit thrift shops or discount stores such as The Dollar Store or JC Penny. A lot of online shops as well as brick-and-mortar shops also sell branded goods at a lower price, such as Nordstrom Rack and Designer Shoe Warehouse.
Of course, cheap stuff is awesome but free stuff is even better! A lot of peopleclear out their belongings at the end of the year. If you stay back a bit later, you might be able to collect some really decent items! A lot of cumbersome electronics get thrown out, printers, mini fridges, hot pots and the like. If you manage to store them over the summer, they’re yours.
Those are a few tips I’ve got for you! Unfortunately, I am no expert in saving money. So I’d love to read your comments and suggestions! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy your summer and happy saving!
Thùy Ngân is a Vietnamese student studying at Smith College in Northampton, MA.
A big thank you to Capstone Vietnam for sharing this article with Study in the USA.
Read Tips on Saving Money on the Capstone Vietnam site: