Seven good ways to save money in college
College can be costly, and chances are saving money is something you don't want to worry about when you're paying attention to assignments, tests and developing your career. But college is a lot harder without a good financial plan, and you don't want to be a "starving student." Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does help you when you forget to bring your lunch, or need school supplies. In fact, college is the perfect time to learn financial responsibility with the cash you've got. Whether you're working or not, there are plenty of ways to be resourceful and save your money. Here's a few tricks I used while I was in school.
Use the school's resources
This includes making sure you've checked Financial Aid to make sure you've gotten all of the bursaries and scholarships you can, since many of them go unclaimed every year.
It also includes buying used books off of the Centennial College Student Association Inc.'s (CCSAI's) website instead of new ones.
Set a budget and stick to it
It's best to start a budget before school starts, as CNBC says, however, it's never too late to start, even if you're in the middle of a semester. If anything, now you have a better idea of your actual costs of living. So, figure out how much money (if any) you're earning, figure out how much you spend in a month (saving your receipts helps), and do the math.
Bag your lunch
First, you should be making your own food, instead of buying it at school. For every step you do yourself, you save money. Making your own food is also healthier, since you can cut the salt and preservatives in pre-made meals (or add a bunch yourself, it's your choice). Another lunch life hack: When you make dinner, make more than you need, and take the leftovers with you the next day.
Plan your meals using flyers
As for what food to buy, most grocery stores have weekly flyers that, if you don't get them in the mail, you can look at online. When you're picking your groceries up, and figuring out what you're going to eat each week, use those flyers to decide what to buy, and stick to what's on sale. Plan what you're going to eat around what's inexpensive.
Always go for the no-name brands
Most of the time, the only real difference is how much they cost. As for finding the no name brands, when you're in the store, literally look down. Many companies pay money to stores to display their brands at eye level. Don't grab the first one you see. Instead, search the lower shelves for the generic version.
Work while in school
Even if it's just for a few hours a week, any extra money is good. Some people don't want to work in college because of the time needed for their studies, and that's valid, since you're balancing school time against work time. That doesn't mean you can't make it work, though. It just means you need to be organized enough to carefully schedule your life. In college, I was lucky enough to work at a place with flexible hours.
One trick you can use is to work on campus, whether it's at our book store, at one of our campus restaurants, as a tutor, or in residence. You can find jobs on myCentennial, and Career Services has their own HireCentennial Job Board, and the CCSAI has their own job section.
The more you know, the better you'll be at managing your own money. And if you're really good at it, you can learn to manage other people's cash, and turn it into a career thanks to our Business School, and its programs, which include full-time offerings like our different Accounting programs, and part-time graduate certificate offerings, like Financial Planning.
By Anthony Geremia