In my two (going on three) years of college, I’ve discovered a few little ways to save money on my expenses, and I’d like to share them with you today. Some of them are obvious, some are resourceful, some are small tricks ~ and all are helpful in trying not to break the bank (or whatever exists of it).
1. Make the most of your meal plan.
Really take advantage of the food available to you at school, since you’re already paying an arm and a leg for your it anyways. It’s fine, of course, to buy snacks to keep in your dorm room for those in-between times when you get hungry. But, even though cafeteria food isn’t the best, try not to skip meals there only to spend money on a meal elsewhere. That’s wasting the money you’re already paying for your meal plan, and spending more money out of your own pocket unnecessarily.
2. Use plastic grocery bags as trash bags.
Any time you go to the grocery store or make a Target run, save all your plastic bags instead of throwing them away, and use them for garbage bags. They’re the perfect size for small trash cans, so this little trick will save you from having to spend money on trash bags.
3. Use a refillable water bottle instead of buying water bottles.
Instead of constantly buying packs of disposable Dasani water bottles, invest in one or more hard water bottles (usually made of plastic or stainless steel) ~ the kind you might bring to a sports practice or on a camping trip. You can find these for pretty cheap at stores like Walmart (I once bought one there for 88 cents), and you can fill them up anytime at the water fountains around campus.
4. Use every last bit of something before buying a replacement.
This applies to things like shampoo and conditioner, dish soap, saline solution, peanut butter ~ anything that you eventually use up. Whenever you use these things, try to use only the minimum amount that you need ~ for instance, don’t use a handful of shampoo when you really only need a quarter-sized amount. Use up every ounce of an item that you possibly can, and when you finally can get nothing out of it anymore, then go spend the money on a new one.
5. Reuse things from year to year.
Only used up half a notebook for a class last semester? Use the other half for a class the second semester. Have a pile of folders and binders at the end of the year? Don’t get rid of them ~ save them for next year. This applies to other kinds of items too ~ at the end of last year, I stored half a box of dryer sheets, a mostly full container of Advil, half a pack of pens, and other partially used items over the summer. Then they were waiting for me when I came back to school in the fall, and it saved me from having to buy new ones.
6. Save your change.
Empty all the change bulging out of your wallet and put it in a jar or a cup. Do this often ~ maybe even every time you get change ~ and over time, you’ll accumulate a surprisingly sizeable amount of money! This trick is a great money saver not only for college, but also for life in general. For instance, my sister and I did saved our spare change for a year leading up to our trip to England, and after splitting the savings between us, we each ended up with almost $150. And voila, there was our souvenir money!
7. Take advantage of sales and coupons.
I know I’m stating the obvious a bit, but these really are legitimate money savers. When you’re shopping for your necessities, like food items, laundry supplies, or toothpaste, save money wherever you can. Buy the toilet paper that’s on sale instead of the other kind. Take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free deals. Buy the off-brand for some items. Doing these little things can add up to considerable savings.