News Dec 24th 2015

5 College life Hacks To Keep Your Piggy Bank Happy

College is one of the best times of any person's life. This is when your real life begins and where you forge the relationships that will define your career and personal development. Unfortunately, it is also when the reality bites, and money becomes a matter of serious concern.

With the thought of your huge student debt hanging over you waiting to pounce in mind, here are some college life hacks you can do to keep you afloat and maybe even put by a little for a rainy day.

Use the library

It is not true that the traditional library is obsolete, at least not for a cash-strapped college student.

The school or public library is a treasure trove of free reference books and resources that you can use instead of buying or renting textbooks. Failing that, you can borrow, rent, or buy an older edition of the textbook (preferably second hand) and shave a few pounds off your book costs. You can also try to find free versions of the books you need online. For your research needs, most unis include access to paid online journal sites in the tuition, so make full use of this resource.

Good tip: Try some tools to help you find open source articles and books.

Takeaway: Don't buy textbooks unless you absolutely have to. Ask your prof if you do need it for the course. Some don't use the reference at all, and even if they do, it is only for a few weeks. Beg, borrow, find, rent, or get an older edition if you really must.

Take advantage of free food

There are lots of ways to save on food, aside from subsisting on instant ramen and eggs.

You can get free refills at Starbucks for basic coffees, or better yet bring your own tea bag when you hang out with friends at a coffee shop and ask for hot water. Attend all school functions; there is sure to be free food or at least some snack packs, especially for freshers.

Good tip: McDonalds give students a cheeseburger, mayo Chicken or McFlurry Original free with an Extra Value or Wrap Meal. All you have to do is present a valid student ID. Another good way to score food is to work part time in the food business, which usually means free meals during your shift.

Takeaway: There is always free food available if you know where to look. You can party (or make money) and save on groceries at the same time.

Stock up

Stock up on snacks so you will not have to buy from the cafeteria when you have to be on campus the whole day.

Cook large batches of real meals once a week (preferably when you're home for the weekend!) and keep them in one meal packs in the freezer (if you have one). It is healthier and cheaper than quick meals.

Good tip: If you don't have a fridge, buy large bottles of spaghetti sauce and packets of dry pasta. It only takes a few minutes in boiling water to make a delicious meal.

Takeaway: If you are determined enough to do, it is cheaper and healthier to learn how to cook basic meals and stock-up.

Buy on sale

Whatever you do, don't buy retail.

Shop for food, clothing, and other items in season and buy store brand whenever you can. Learn to like what's on sale, but don't buy more than you can actually use. Coupons can also come in handy; many are downloadable to your mobile phone so you won't even have to do any clipping! If you live off campus and have roommates, pool your money together and take turns cooking food for everyone.

Good tip: wait till an hour before closing time to shop for food. That is when most groceries start marking down perishables like and other items they can't sell anymore because they will expire that day. Sale-by dates are different from eat-by dates. You can safely eat those a couple of days after.

Takeaway: You can save a lot on groceries at the source. Shop smart, buy on sale, buy store brands, and use coupons when you can.

Know and be where the freebies are

You can usually score more than food at school events and fairs.

Many sponsors give out samples such as pens, notepaper, bags, even T-shirts. You can also get free entertainment such as movies or local shows at special campus events on weekends, so you won't have to spend for date night.

Good tip: Moving out day is a great way to get stuff people left behind because it wouldn't fit in their boxes. These include coffeemakers, toasters, and even mini fridges. Convert these to cash by selling them online.

Takeaway: Free stuff is available for the asking, but you do need to ask, or at least attend. College is expensive, but you can count down on your costs quite easily. You can use these hacks to save some money for yourself, maybe even start chipping away at your student debt.

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