For all you students back on campus, a study guide for money management and being a not-so-broke college student.
1. Find the freebies.
From free snacks and recreational programs in the student center, to gym access and on-campus healthcare services, the best four years of your life could be filled with “freebies.” At many schools, these offerings tend to go underutilized—but since you’re a smart-spending student, you’ll be sure to take advantage.
2. Avoid discount FOMO.
Your student ID card or college email address could be all you need to score a sweet percentage off food, fun, and other fundamentals. You’ll find numerous restaurants, entertainment venues, laundromats and even grocery stores offering student discounts in your typical college town, and many online retailers have also gotten in on the action, so ask or check prior to any purchase.
3. Make your meals.
Put a weekly limit on going out to eat, and choose the cheapest meal plan option if you live on campus (especially if you have access to a stove in your dorm) or consider foregoing a meal plan entirely if you live off campus. Then learn to make a few of your own signature staple meals out of healthier, inexpensive basics—though your professors might think otherwise, it could actually be the most valuable thing you’ll learn all semester.
4. Check your checking.
No college student should be using a checking account that charges fees for things like dropping below a minimum balance, or using another institution’s ATMs (especially if you’re going to school away from home). If your current banking situation is less-than-suited to college life, consider switching to a student-focused checking account. Member One’s Campus Advantage Account could be just what you need—account holders also get free, professional money management advice.
5. Don’t lose your deposit.
Protect your security deposit if you live off campus (and avoid steep move-out fees if you live in the dorms) by following the terms of your lease or housing contract and keeping your space in the same condition you got it in.
6. Make the grade on aid.
If you find yourself flush with a financial aid refund and know you won’t need the whole amount for school/living expenses, consider paying some (or all) of it right back. You’ll avoid the temptation to spend it on stuff it wasn’t intended for, and your future self will thank you when you graduate with a smaller loan balance to pay.
7. Network now.
Join campus organizations relevant to your career interests, ask a favorite professor about assisting with research, start looking for internships or even a paying part-time job in your future field, or just get involved on campus in a positive, productive way. These are the kind of college activities that will best set you up for financial success long after your four years have ended.
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