30. If you live on campus, bike or use public transit instead of owning a car
An analysis by AAA found the average annual cost of a sedan in 2014 was $8,876. Along with housing, transportation is often one of the highest line items in any personal budget. While a necessity of modern life in most regions of the country, a car depreciates rapidly and requires wads of cash to keep in good operating condition.
If you live on campus, consider the financial benefits of not owning a car and instead walk, bike, or take public transit. If instances do arise where you need a ride somewhere away from campus, consider options in the sharing economy such as Uber.
31. Skip costly trips for summer and spring break
Costs for vacations to Cancun or the Caribbean during spring break, or trips across country (or abroad) during summer, will swiftly mount. Referring back to tip #12, what about the possibility of using these off times to work a job? It’s OK to occasionally splurge on a nice trip. Just ensure that it fits with your overall financial scenario.
32. Keep your grades up
Many students will benefit from grants or scholarships during their college careers, but maintaining this form of financial help isn’t a sure bet. You’ll need to keep your grades up in order to remain competitive. This also might apply if you receive financial aid (through Pell grants, for example). You’ll need to maintain a minimal grade point average to remain qualified.
33. Investigate whether your campus offers discounted access to a gym
If you’re attending a college or university of any significant size, chances are your school has an on-site gym that’s free for students. More likely than not, you’ll end up getting a much better deal than searching off campus. Membership fees at a typical gym can swiftly approach $1,000 or more per year.
If you’re moving to a new area for college, be sure to also explore free recreational activities that will improve your health. You might be closer to the mountains, the beach, parks, and lakes that offer a host of opportunities for physical activity.
34. Begin using a budget
Set a lifelong habit of financial responsibility by beginning to budget in college. You can actually begin saving even while still in school, and it never hurts to open a retirement account. Budgeting helps to discern between the “needs” of regular expenses—such as rent, food, and utilities—and the “wants” of splurges out for dinner or vacations.
35. Seek out experiences, not things
Happiness research has long documented that experiences are more important than things in boosting your mood. The good news is that great experiences are often free or low cost. Buying a fancy new car, the latest gadgets, and designer clothes will lead to a temporary boost in happiness, but then you’ll adapt to the new stuff and want more in order to gain the same feeling.
In contrast, an experience is fun both in the moment and in later years as you reflect back on it. Spend time enjoying activities with friends and loved ones—it’ll boost your happiness and probably save you a buck in the end.
36. Most important of all—pay attention!
By paying attention to your finances, you’ve already won a good portion of the battle. Similar to eating and weight gain, it’s easy for finances to get out of control when you don’t have an idea of what you’re making and spending. There’s a lot to think about while enrolled in school, of course, but disciplining yourself to track spending and scout out ways to save will lead to major rewards.
So, those are our 36 tips. Do you have any to add? Please leave a comment below!