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Lessons in Frugality: Ideas to Make Freshman Year a Little Cheaper

money saving tipsYour freshman year is usually a time of excitement and self-discovery. You’re out on your own, making your own decisions, and testing your freedom. And if you’re like millions of other freshman, you’re also broke. Don’t let your financial situation get you down though, part of the fun of being a freshman is learning how to live on a shoestring. Here are a few tips to help you do that.

Explore Your College Town

Pick a day when your class load is light to become familiar with your new town. Check out the restaurants, coffee shops, consignment shops, and grocery stores. Find out who has the best prices and who offers discounts to college students. Visit the library for a list of free events like outdoor concerts, art festivals, and plays you can enjoy without spending a dime. Ask the locals for tips as well.

Buy and Sell Your Textbooks Privately

College textbooks are notoriously overpriced but you can save yourself a lot of money by searching the campus bulletin boards and online for books for sale by owner. Ask your instructor if the newest edition is necessary, as new editions are sometimes nearly identical to old ones. Just make sure whatever you buy has all the needed information like access codes and compact discs. When it’s time to sell your books, go the same route; schools usually pay almost nothing for used books.

Skip the College Experience

Do yourself a favor and stay home when everyone else is doing their best to live up to the alcoholic college experience. In case you didn’t know, people do stupid things when they’re drunk, hangovers feel like death and alcohol costs a lot of money. The keg parties that cost $20 to get in, the shot dares, the drinking games — give them all a miss. Not only will you be doing your wallet (and liver) a favor, you’ll find studying much easier with a clear head.

Food Shop Like a Pro

Supper doesn’t have to be pizza every night. Do your own cooking and save a bundle. Buy cheaper (but just as delicious) cuts of meat like chicken drumsticks and thighs instead of breasts. You can build a budget and only take out the money you allow yourself to spend to help limit your grocery bill as well. Most credit unions can help you manage your accounts and withdrawals easily. Bulk up meals with beans, rice, and pasta. Go to farmers markets for cheaper and healthier produce options. Doctor up Asian noodle soups with corn, lima beans, mushrooms, green onions, and chicken. And keep an eye out for freebies, like radio stations hosting free cookouts, car dealerships giving away hot dogs to everyone who stops by, and churches having socials to invite people to join.

Use Those Getaway Sticks

Having a car is great, but gas is expensive. Do what you can on foot. Consider buying a used bicycle with a basket to carry things like groceries and books. When you do need to use your car, map out your errands so you’re taking the most logical, economic route. Invite a classmate to join you and share the cost. If you don’t have a car, ask your school for information on public transportation.

You’re going to learn a lot about supporting yourself during your freshman year, including what it means to tighten your belt. Learning how to stick to a budget is a valuable skill that will serve you well all of your life.

Written by

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.


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