Small ideas that make a big difference in your banking account.
Take the bus: No matter how expensive the bus system is in your part of the world, it is almost certainly less expensive than getting a car. Although some people complain that taking the bus takes considerably more time than driving, it is often time that can be used to work on homework, read a book, or study for a test. Bus riders don't have to worry about where to park or about paying for routine maintenance.
Find your textbooks online: Textbooks are increasingly becoming available in digital forms. These versions are often much cheaper than their weightier, paper counterparts.
If there isn't an online version, you can also try browsing online at sites such as half.com to find cheaper used versions of your textbook. I saved roughly $100 this semester by shopping for my books online.
Keep a running shopping list: Going to a grocery store without a clear idea of what you are going to buy is pretty dangerous to your credit card. It is also often results in you forgetting to get critical ingredients. Even your morning bowl of cold cereal could be difficult if you forget to buy the cereal. Maintaining a shopping list can also help you to be more aware of what you need while looking for coupons.
Clip coupons: Keep an eye out for deals on food that you consume often. The savings can range from pennies to dollars, depending on the deal. Over time it all adds up.
Keep a budget: Plan out your academic school year, deciding out how much money you will need in order to survive a full two semesters at college. Be realistic yet sparing. Add in the regular payments such as tuition and rent first, then factor in other elements such as fast food. Some online sources can help you to budget your money better. One site, Mint.com, can connect with your bank account and will identify and categorize your expenses.
Cutting utility costs: There are several excellent methods that you can employ to reduce your energy bill. Unscrewing half of the light bulbs in your apartment often gives you enough light without the extra energy consumption. Using fluorescent light fixtures instead of incandescent bulbs saves money on electricity. Putting a weighted object into your toilet tank can reduce the amount of water used per flush.
Pack a lunch: McDonald's hasn't made it into more than 100 countries by producing the cheapest burger money can buy. Everybody knows that baking your own food is usually cheaper than eating out. Unfortunately, it is much easier to buy a tasty Big Mac than it is to pull out the barbecue (which you may or may not have if you're a college student). Many students are able to get around this by preparing meals on weekends. Within minutes you could make enough peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for an entire week. You can also boil eggs in advance and toss them in the fridge. With a little creativity you can go a long way.
About the Author
Stephen Sharpe is a web writer for the online education resource, MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers is a tool which has helped thousands of people determine if online education will benefit them and helps them understand which online classes they can choose from to reach their goals. The site even helps students decide if online schools are what they are looking for.