Students: How Do You Fight the Crave—and Save?

College is an exploratory period—a time to discover new interests, mingle with fresh faces, and tackle unforeseen challenges. It’s also a great time to learn how to manage money.

Learning to spend wisely can put students way ahead of (their) pack. That’s why College Discount Cards has put together this brief guide for scrimping, saving, and economizing during the university years.

1. Minimize School Expenses

There are certain costs you won’t be able to avoid—most college educations don’t come free, after all. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options. Purchase used textbooks whenever possible. Online shopping allows you to hunt for bargains—comparing prices with brick-and-mortar alternatives. You can even sell your books and unused supplies back at the end of each semester, making a little bit of what you spent.

2. Learn to Budget

You’re not going to live long without food (exactly 30 days)—or caffeine. But do you really need the fancy Blue Bottle drip setup? Time to make yourself a food and drink budget—and figure out the answer.

Budgeting simply means setting a limit for expenditures that keeps your incoming number larger than the outgoing one. This dictates exactly what you can and can’t spend. Splurging is fine; just be aware that it might mean tightening your belt on something else in that category.

3. Be Smart About Debt

It’s never too early to begin building credit. But if you’re getting your first credit card, don’t fall into common traps. Get a card that provides benefits (like airline miles) and use it only for purchases you know you can pay for in the next payment cycle or two (at most!). Don’t make the mistake of putting that tantalizing spring break package on your brand-new plastic; you’ll regret it when you’re back in your dorm room—tanned, but drowning under resulting bills.

Instead, try to pay off your balances monthly, and remember to use student loans only for necessities.

4. Resist Temptation

There will times when you’ll want to splurge on the newest Apple device—or buy all your friends a round of drinks (ahem, seniors!). But exercise caution and consider each buy carefully. You might have the first Apple Watch amidst your circle of friends, but if you can’t pay for it, will it have been worth that moment of pleasure?

There are as many ways to save in college as there are ways to spend, but it’s important to develop solid financial strategies early on. Always review your options—and never put the short-term ahead of your bright, blinding future.

5. Get yourself a College Discount Card

Money-saving College Discount Cards help students like you snag impressive savings on campus goods and services. You might get $1 off a manicure, $5 off a meal at your favorite local pizza joint, 20% off of your next pair of jeans.

If your student government has opted into our program, you can get a card from them. If not, let them know about what we’re all about.