Figuring out your financial situation in college can be tricky. Tuition, books, supplies, foodit all adds up, and you might not have time to get a job. So how can you do college and not be perpetually broke? Start by asking yourself: Do I really need this? Will I actually use it? If you answered no to either of these questions, maybe reconsider the purchase. To ease your monetary anxiety, we compiled these tips to help you keep your finances in check.
Walk to class, take the free campus bus, bike, etc. instead of driving and paying for parking. Undergraduate student parking permits cost up to $444.65 for the academic year at UNC, $414 at Duke, and $200 per semester at N.C. State.
If you live off campus, pack your lunch instead of buying food on campus. The classic PB&J with an apple and a bag of chips is an easy, quick, and packable meal. However, if your taste buds are more refined or if you can’t be bothered to BYO food, many campuses have cafés or gas-station-esque shops for a cheap bite.
Ask upperclassmen who’ve previously taken your courses if the textbook is really necessary, or wait until you know you won’t drop the class before you buy it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve purchased textbooks and (a) learned that the class barely used them or (b) ended up dropping the class anyway. If you must, buy used textbooks or rent them. (Amazon is the devil, sure, but its prices are usually better than the student bookstore’s.)
Use apps like Hooked or Pocket Points to get restaurant and shopping discounts. Sign up for UNiDAYS with your student email address to unlock discounts for more than three hundred fashion, health, beauty, lifestyle, tech, and food brands that can be used online or in store.
Always carry a reusable water bottle to fill up instead of paying for bottled water.
Take advantage of free stuff at your college’s first-week-of-school festival (FallFest at UNC, Packapalooza at State, and so on) and club meetings (there’s usually free pizza or cookies). Usually, booths at first-week-of-class festivals allow you to stock up, but supplies are always limited!
Invest in a legit coffee makernot a Keurig. Not only is it better for the environment, it’s cheaper to buy coffee grounds than it is to buy Keurig cups. If you don’t have time to make coffee or would rather stop by the student café, bring a reusable coffee tumblermost places offer a discount for doing so.