Cut college costs creatively

College can have hidden costs. Here are some creative ways to combat that.

Cut college costs creatively

Financing a college education can be costly. Once you have navigated a plan to pay for college through loans, grants and savings, consider if you have planned for the hidden costs. Those little expenses over the years can add up to considerable debt. Here are some creative ways college students can cut costs.

Thrift-shop fan

You don’t need a matching bedroom set. Mix and match furniture from friends and relatives or find it at a thrift store. Better yet, seek out those graduates who are pitching their belongings at the end of the school year, such as desks, lamps, tables, couches, refrigerators or fans. If you can find a place to store them over the summer, you will be set for next fall. Second-hand furniture and clothes will do fine and can save you lots of money. Plus, retro is back in!

Buddy up!

The more people you have to split the cost with, the cheaper it will be. That can go for living arrangements and buying items in bulk. Check with people on the floor or in the house to buy bulk laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, staple food items or even cable. If you all chip in, you can reduce the cost for each individual. Plus, you can socialize as you all watch the big game on the shared TV.

Mind your meals

Research the meal plans offered on campus. There may be cheaper options that can save you money. You may even be able to opt out of them completely and cook for yourself. In this case, try sharing meals with others. Again, if you all pitch in on the groceries and share on the staple items like coffee and peanut butter, you can save money and possibly make new friends!

Cheap thrills

Utilize your student discounts for entertainment. Many campuses and surrounding cities offer free movie nights, museum admission, concerts and discounted gym memberships. Check with the campus recreation department and the preforming arts departments for reduced rates at events.

Get down with getting around

To travel on campus, try walking, using your bike or taking public transportation whenever you can; it’s far cheaper than a car. If you do need to travel home, look to car pool with others to save on gas. Or, save the trip and Skype home. Also, try to share a ride to events off campus and to the discount bulk grocery stores and thrift stores.

Bypass the bookstore

College textbooks are expensive and you get significantly less when you try to sell them back to the bookstore. Circumvent that by advertising you have books to sell. If you only need it for just a semester, try checking the book out from the local or campus library. Also, look for students that are taking classes you will have in the future and ask to buy their books at less than what the bookstore would sell them to you.

Spring break bonus

If you are looking for an opportunity to have fun, serve others, save money and strengthen your resume, check out volunteering opportunities during your spring break. Alternative spring break programs like Project – Abroad , United Way and Alternative Spartan Breaks offer volunteer programs at little to no cost and provide valuable experiences, treasured memories and might even present a future connection in your field of study.

Thrifty is nifty

Getting creative with your college colleagues can carry over to your career, too. Learning to be frugal and living within your means are key skills that can payoff later in life. You may not be taking classes in finance and money management, but you may very well end up with a valuable education in it.

For more information on fiscal management or youth money management, please visit the Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development websites.

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