For college students, the summer is a great opportunity to get a head start on financing the upcoming school year — or it can mean frittering away what you’ve worked hard to save the previous year. Hopefully you’re determined to fall into the former category and see the next few months as a building block rather than a stumbling block for your financial future.
If so, here are seven ways you can save money over the summer:
Obviously the best way to keep your cash flow flowing throughout the summer is to get a job and have money coming in.
Whether it’s mowing lawns or working at a friend’s mother’s law office, make sure you have something to do so you’re not only spending money, you’re also replacing it — and possibly even saving up for the fall.
2. Stay away from late night fast food.
Aside from being the healthy thing to do, staying away from fast food is also money-smart. Yes, it’s easy to pull into a drive-thru when you get hungry on a late summer evening, but those overpriced milkshakes and fries add up fast.
Guard against late night fast food binges by making sure you have plenty of snacks in the house — even if you’re still not going to grab a piece of fruit, a bag of frozen french fries will be cheaper than stopping at a fast food place.
If you volunteer, you won’t have money coming in, but at least it’ll keep you busy. One of the big reasons students spend more money than they should throughout the summer is because they have nothing else to do.
Think about it, what do you do when you’re bored in the summer? Go to the mall? Go out to eat? Go grab a five-dollar iced coffee? Stop boredom in its tracks by filling up your time with volunteering at a children’s summer camp, nursing home, or whatever interests you — as an added bonus, you’ll be helping others in the process.
4. Take classes at a local college.
Yes, you’ll be spending money to take the class, but it might be cheaper than taking courses at your university and even help you graduate sooner, saving you money overall.
And again, you’ll be keeping yourself busy between going to class and studying, so that will leave you far less time to be bored and wondering where you can spend money.
5. Travel frugally.
For many students, summer is a time for taking off and seeing and experiencing new people, places, and things — as well it should be so long as you can afford it. Decide first how much money you have to spend on a vacation and then pick your destination.
When choosing where to go, don’t forget all the interesting places close to home that maybe you have never visited, or you’ve only seen as an elementary school student. Before your trip, budget everything (transportation costs, accommodation, meals, admission fees, extras like souvenirs, etc.), and stick to it as closely as possible.
6. Start your own tip jar.
Yes, this is common sense, but a great way to save money is by literally putting it away somewhere and not touching it.
Start your own tip jar by throwing in loose change, or, consider putting in each and every five-dollar bill you receive; you’d be surprised at how quickly they add up.
7. Get school books early.
As summer winds down and you start thinking about school again, consider getting a jump start on the semester buy buying your books ahead of time, preferably online for maximum savings.