How to Save Money in College (And Not Miss Out on the Fun Stuff)

You pay your ridiculously high tuition fees, settle for the cheapest dorm room, and spend a few hundred on your flight over. You might think you're done with the hardest part of paying for college, but actually, the hard part starts when you get there. Since we don't just sit in our rooms all day studying (who does?), we inevitably end up spending tons of money on food, clubs, and social activities.

It's especially hard when you live in a city. Now, I don't live in the most expensive city in the world (I'm looking at you NYU friends), but I do know that living in an urban area can come with a hefty price tag that we often don't take into account when applying to schools.

Hopefully you're not as clueless as Nick Miller.

Plus, for me, one of the hardest parts is that I have not one, but two separate bank accounts. Don't be fooled- it's not because I have so much money that I need to put it in two places. But being an international student, it's necessary that I have a Scottish bank account in addition to my American one. This causes a lot of hassle in that I'm always waiting ages for checks to clear, sometimes running out of money in one account and having to use the other. It's a lot to manage.

And because I'm currently struggling with my money situation, I thought I'd share with you all some tips and tricks I've learnt from family, friends and the internet on saving money in college:

Set a Budget // For me, setting a long-term budget is a little bit scary. But what I like to do is set "mini-budgets" for the week, or even for the night if I'm going out. Decide how much is reasonable to spend and stick to it (say, £15 for a night out). While I know a lot of people who will leave their debit card at home as to not overspend as they drink, I'm always worried that I wont have enough money for a taxi home, if need be. So limit your cash, but keep your card on you, just to be safe. 

Save the Old Fashioned Way // Remember the days when piggy banks were all the rage? Well now I've traded in my bright pink piggy bank for a bright pink wallet. But a tin or jar can serve the same purpose. Start out with a decent amount of "emergency" money in your mini-bank and then add to it whenever you get change from a transaction. In the end, you'll probably have a lot more money than you thought you would! (And tons of coins for the washing machine) 

They're adorable. They're practical.

Take Advantage of Student Discounts // Two-for-one burgers is always a good idea. And I'm not talking about at McDonalds. So many restaurants in college towns have student discounts on top-notch food. And they're well worth it. Make sure to pick up discount cards whenever you can (free coffee after five purchases, anyone?). And don't just forget about them and leave them to collect dust in the bottom of your bag- keep them on hand at all times, and use them as often as you can.    

Say "No" //  Your best girlfriend invites you out for boozy brunch. Your study group has an emergency meeting at Starbucks, complete with cappuccinos and cake pops. Your totally indie friend asks you to come check out this trendy club downtown. And all in the same week. Suddenly, your wallet is empty. Sound familiar? Personally saying no to unnecessary (and expensive) activities is what I struggle with most. But if you don't ever say no, something important might come up that you can't say no to, and you won't have the funds. It's okay to say "Yes," but be sure to do so wisely.  

Decide What's Important // While saying "no" is crucial to maintaining your budget (and your sanity), you don't want to miss out on the biggest social events of the semester or become a lonely hermit who's only friend is Netflix. There are certain experiences that are worth the money you spend (even if it does cost an arm and a leg). For example, even though I would love to have more money on my debit card at the moment,  I don't regret the money I've spent on my trip with my friends to London next week. If travel is important to you (like it is for me), then don't feel guilty about spending your money on that. Or if you enjoy going to see theater productions, by all means spend your money there.

Preach, Phoebe

While at times it may seem like your entire student experience is dictated by the weight of your wallet, it's important to remind yourself that it definitely doesn't have to be. There are so many easy ways to save money without sacrificing having a fabulous semester.

And remember, kids:

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