Being on your own at college means that you have to exercise discipline. This encompasses not only managing your time well, but also your money. Now that you are out of your parents’ house your expenses are up to you - food, gas, bills, housing costs, and entertainment.
The first strategy is to create a detailed budget. Keep every receipt for one month and find out where you money goes. You might be surprised to find out where the majority of your expenses are; late night pizza runs or sitting in coffee shops to ‘study’ at $2.75 or more for a cup of coffee each day quickly adds up. Stay on top of your money and spend only what you have.
Join a student or local credit union rates are normally lower on all services offered compared to traditional banks. Avoid other bank’s ATM’s. Fees will eat your savings. Once your budget is set-up, withdraw a lump sum once, for the week. Avoid cash advances. Unlike purchases, credit card cash advances accrue interest right away. It sounds simple, but don't bounce checks. Doing so is costly and you’ll incur bank fees as well as store fees, not to mention it will reflect on your credit rating. Steer clear of all the 0% introductory credit card offers you’ll be getting; the rate does not last forever.
There are several ways you can save money on campus. Get the most out of your student ID and take advantage of campus activities. Each semester the average cost of textbooks is $600. Buy used or even online at sites like Campusbooks.com. When buying used textbooks online the discounts can provide up to 90% off the new book price from the publisher. Most campuses are set up with Wi-Fi, so there’s no need to have a land line when everyone operates by cell phones these days. Use a free internet calling service. Some popular voice over IP (VoIP) services are Skype, Vonage and Google Talk. If you can sacrifice it, live without your car. Cars are expensive on your own dime: gas, maintenance, insurance, registration, and school parking passes. Stay close to campus. Learn to use mass transit or better yet, get some exercise by walking or dusting off your old bike. Whether you are in a dorm, apartment or fraternity house, share your food expenses with a roommate or friends. Decide how many nights a week you can allow yourself to go out. Even going to the movies adds up and going out to eat before or after is inevitable. Instead, subscribe to Netflix and have a night in with friends. It’s always cheaper to eat (and drink) at home - and there’s no gratuity added for your large group.