5 Ways To Live Well on a College Budget

Easy ways to survive - and have fun - without breaking the bank

It’s no secret that most college students don’t arrive on campus with unlimited resources. Here are five tips for making your money go as far as it can, while still having a good time:

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1. Establish your (monetary) priorities

This may seem like clichéd advice, but it’s easier — and more important — than you might think. Like the countless distractions from studying, there are many things out there to tempt you to spend money. Contrary to how it may seem at the time, your college experience won’t be significantly affected if you don’t go to see every band that has a hit song on the radio. Making a list of your fiscal priorities is a great way to help you curb your extraneous spending. Additionally, keeping track of how much money you spend (not just the major purchases) is the best way to always know where you stand financially.

2. Used books don’t have to come from your school’s bookstore

While it can be convenient to get everything in one place at one time, it is often possible to find the textbooks you need at cheaper prices, including shipping. Amazon.com has a great variety of textbooks of different editions and you can sell (most of) them back for credit on the site — a perfect way to get a head start on saving for next semester’s books.

3. Save your change

Whether you’ve got a cash-and-carry or a mostly plastic policy, you will most likely acquire change during your college career. While the 11 cents leftover from buying coffee might not seem like a lot at the time, it adds up quickly. Last year, my roommates and I saved our change from our August move-in until we left in May. We had more than $90 (and a seemingly endless walk to the bank with the container of coins.) Even if you don’t plan on saving change over an extended period of time, it can be useful for smaller things, like a trip to the vending machine.

4. Become a campus rep

If you are into marketing and social media, or are just a superfan of a specific product or company, look into becoming a campus representative or ambassador. Campus rep programs are a great way to bulk up your resume (and in many cases, your wallet) while barely stepping outside your door. Besides experience and a way to be closer to your favorite brand, most programs compensate you with commission, store credit and/or free product. The Campus Rep is a great website to use for finding companies looking for representatives — and it’s free.

5. Enjoy freebies and discounts

Although many young adults have mixed feelings about the “broke college student” dynamic, there are definitely some perks to it. As a college student, you will have access to various freebies and discounts you probably don’t even know about. Many companies seeking to promote themselves visit campuses bringing items from pens to Frisbees with their brand on them. Additionally, clubs and organizations on campus often hold events with free food. Campus ministry events are a perfect example; they almost always have food (and plenty of people attending). Off-campus businesses ranging from J. Crew to Chipotle offer discounts when you show a student ID at the register. For more discounts, check out this list.

Sean Hahner

Sean Hahner hails from Mountainside, New Jersey, and is a rising junior at Fordham University where he is majoring in English. He is a member of the men's rugby team as well as an audio engineer, beat reporter and producer for WFUV Sports.