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Written by Megan Benjamin
We all know that expenses run high in college—especially for those of us who just can’t resist the latest and greatest tech toys. Assuming that new Windows Phone, Diablo III, and a new Xbox 360 are all complete necessities (they are, right?), it’s pretty important to save wherever you can. Below are five tips for saving more and spending less, leaving plenty of leftover shekels to feed your insatiable tech obsession when you just can’t resist.
1. Budget. Sure, mom’s been telling you about the powers of proper budgeting for years, but it probably wasn’t until all those “overdraft fees” started piling up that you realized there might be something to it. If you want to go digital, try Mint.com, a great site for tracking your purchases and creating financial goals and budgets. Make a list of all the things you spend money on. How much do you spend per semester, per month or per week on each of those things? Where can you find savings? How much money do you need to make in order to pay for your expenses? Once you make a budget, stick to it and you’ll be good to go!
2. Save now; splurge later. When you see something you absolutely have to have, wait a bit. Take a picture of it with your smartphone or email yourself a link of it. After a week or so, if you still have an irresistible urge to buy that thing, and have the funds to purchase it, go for it.
3. Save on books. Besides tuition and rent, huge textbooks (with their humongous price tags) are probably the biggest financial burden felt by college students. Did you know you can rent textbooks? Rent, buy used and sell ‘em back, borrow your friends’ or just use the library—it could save you up to $600 a semester.
4. Get entrepreneurial. Heard of Imagine Cup? Not only are the top prizes big lumps of cash, the competition could spur a world-changing, money-making business idea to earn you money in the near future. Otherwise, use your talents to score a few extra bucks by trading your time for extra money. Are you a programmer or a web designer? Local shops and companies probably need you. Did you score ridiculously high on your SATs or totally ace multivariable calculus? Try tutoring. The more unique the skill, the more you can probably charge. If nothing else, there’s always waiting tables!
5. Embrace your student status. Companies like Microsoft love to help out students. Did you know you can get huge discounts on Windows 7, Microsoft Office, computers, Xbox 360 gear, and more from the Microsoft Student site? Discounts are awesome, but free loot is even better. DreamSpark hooks you up with free developer and designer tools, servers, and apps. Then there’s always the student discount at the movies, on ski lift tickets, at local restaurants, and at tons of other places. Save big by whipping out that student ID when it counts.