University can be very expensive for many. Along with tuition costs, there are textbook, rental, food, and other miscellaneous costs for the many things students believe are compulsory must-haves. This makes the cost of living high for students, especially if they do not have a job. Here are several ways you can save in university to make your debt smaller.
1. Walk and Avoid Transit
I know it can be really tempting to use the transit system everywhere you go because it is faster and students are lazy. But this is a bad habit worth breaking. Walking to places that are closer not only helps you save transportation costs but also gets you the daily exercise and fresh air you need. I have been walking almost 40 minutes every day and I have seen improvement in my pace, my weight, and my bank balance. Start little if you must–say, walk to any place that will take you less than 20 minutes. Then slowly build on this and soon you will not be tired by walking, and you will have a faster pace. Best of all, you will be saving!
2. Buy Used Textbooks
EBooks and used textbooks tend to be a lot cheaper than a brand new hardcover copy. Check your university bookstore for used books. If you cannot find any, there are many websites dedicated to textbook exchanges. If the book is only required for part of the course or you only require one chapter form the book itself, borrow the book from a library. Many university libraries have textbook reserves. In first year, all my friends wanted to get the latest edition textbooks. They ended up spending about $500 per semester just on textbook costs. I, on the other hand, tried to find eBooks or used textbooks and even borrowed some from the library. I ended up spending less than $200 the whole year. Now that, is saving!
3. Pack Your Lunch
It’s almost always, always, always less expensive to pack your lunch from home than to buy from outside. I brought snacks in bulk (from Costco of course) and would either take leftover dinner, or make myself a new lunch in the morning. This made me stop buying from food from outside because I have a guilty conscious and would rather not waste the food I brought with me. A plus side to doing this is it will also get to eat healthier. Avoiding fast food restaurants also means you avoid the deep-fried yummies.
4. Opt-Out of Optional Fees
Tuition fees normally have a section where you can opt out of optional fees. This can include the dental or health care plan. If you are certain you are not going to use the services the fees cover, or are already covered by another, then opting out can save you a couple of hundred bucks. Each university has its own system, but consider it and ask you counsellor or other guidance counsellor what is optional and if it is a good idea to pay, or to opt-out.
5. Student Plan Discounts
Not everything will be optional in the tuition fees; there will be compulsory fees that you must pay. However, once you pay these compulsory fees, you will find that the value of the benefits will outweigh the costs. Often the university facilitates for many other programs and facilities that are free to students. Knowing exactly what is available to you will not only make you use the facilities to your full potential but will save you money on similar services you normally purchase that could have been brought with a student discount. It is a good idea to check what your student plan offers, as often there are many discounts to certain places, products, or you are offered a wide variety of resources (gym, workshops, programs, etc.).
6. Promotional Bank Accounts
This may be a small saving, but consider the different student accounts offered by different banks. Often to attract customers, there are no transaction fees, no annual fees, and some pretty decent promotions offered. A lot of banks also offer cash-back for simply using your credit card. As well, with a student savings account, banks sometimes offer a greater interest. So, you can make your savings grow even faster!
7. Save $2 a Day
Saving $2 seem little when you think of it, but over time this little step can gather to be quite a bit. In one year, you can save to $730, in four years you will have $2920! Keep a jar or piggy bank, even a savings account if it will prevent you from easy access to withdraw the money. Whatever method you choose, make sure you do not use this money unless absolutely necessary. Keep it as a side savings and use only in extreme emergencies (and craving yummies is not an emergency).
8. Look for Freebies
All around university, almost every day there is some stall or event with free stuff being given out. Find these! You can get comfortable shirts, food, pens, items you never knew you needed, and even win something big in a free draw! Most of these stalls are set up around the beginning of the semester (especially during frosh week) and during exams for students to de-stress. These things will help you save in the long run, and who doesn’t like something free?
[Read also: 11 Small Habits That Help You Save Money]
These are several ways you can save money, and maybe you have another way which works for you. No matter what, it doesn’t hurt to save a little during university. Take it a step further and find ways you can also make money in the comfort of your dorm!