by Jenna Bainter
Let’s face it: today’s world is expensive, especially for college students. Wells Fargo estimates that the average university student spends a whopping $14,690 per year on housing, textbooks, supplies, and transportation— plus approximately $9,410 per year on tuition and associated fees. It goes without saying that students need to save as much money as possible to make ends meet, but many don’t realize that the best expenses to cut down on are often the most basic of necessities. It’s very easy to overspend on things like housing, food, and transportation without even realizing it. Read on to discover several ways that can help you cut costs and save as much as $10,000 per year.
Live Off Campus
This fall, on-campus housing rates at UCF averaged out to $3,805.50 a person per semester. That’s roughly the same as paying $951.38 for rent each month. While it’s convenient to live on campus, especially if you don’t have any other obligations in the greater Orlando area, the cost of living on campus is significantly higher than living off campus. Do your research before you sign a lease with the school; check out rent prices for apartment complexes that are near campus and consider sharing a place with a friend. Right now, you can easily find two bedroom apartments near UCF that charge around $1200.00 per month — if you live with a friend, that brings your per person rent down to $600 per person. At that rate, you’ll be saving about $350 a month, which translates to over $4000 a year (if you’re taking summer classes). If you rent a larger house or apartment with more friends, your per person rent rate will drop even further and you’ll save more money.
Buy in Bulk
While it’s not a good idea to buy everything in bulk, there are many items that you can purchase in large amounts that will help save you a lot of money. Dry goods, frozen foods, and household items like toilet paper and cleaning products are just some of the things you can buy in bulk without worrying about the possibility that they will spoil before you can use them. There are some things you can buy in bulk through Amazon, or you can shop at a local warehouse store like Sam’s Club, Costco, or BJ’s. According to a study done by CBN, items at Sam’s Club averaged out to be 31% cheaper than they were at regular grocery stores. Some items, like bottled water, syrup, and sandwich bags, were as high as 66% cheaper.
The cost of a membership to shop at one of these stores will take a hit at your savings, with Sam’s clubs memberships ranging from $45 to $100 a year and Costco memberships ranging from $25 to $120 a year. To offset the cost of your membership, consider sharing it with a friend or roommate— remember, each membership will come with two cards. Alternatively, you can split the membership four ways and choose a “shopping buddy” to share a card with.
Cook at Home
Saying goodbye to takeout and drive-throughs can save you a lot of money. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average American household spends $3,008 a year eating out— and that number has been steadily rising. According to one restaurant owner, restaurants up mark food prices by as much as 100%. This means you could chop your food spending in half just by preparing the same meals for yourself at home. It is extremely tempting to order a pizza or pick up Chinese food when you’re grappling with end of term exams and projects, but you should do your best to resist that temptation. At the end of the day, it is cheaper (and healthier) to buy ingredients and cook them yourself than it is to pay someone else for ingredients and the cost of their time.
Ditch Your Car
Consider how often you drive somewhere that is outside of walking or biking distance. If you don’t usually travel outside of that range, you can save a lot of money by getting rid of your car. In Florida, car insurance averages out $1,098 per year, and we know that that figure is higher for college students under the age of 21. Car payments can run as high as $300 a month as well. If your car is paid off, you can also easily earn $3,000 or more by selling your car. It’s true that this isn’t an option for everyone, but if you live close enough to every destination in your normal routine, it might be in your best interest to ditch your car in favor of walking or biking. When it comes to going around the greater Orlando area, it’s far cheaper to pay for the occasional Uber ride to go places that are a bit farther away than it is to pay for your own car.
Sell Your Old Things
Do you have a DSLR camera that you never use anymore? An old computer that can be sold for parts? A closet full of clothes that you no longer wear? Consider selling these things online to fund your new interests and necessities. A great way to earn some extra cash is by auctioning off old electronics and furniture on eBay, selling gently worn clothes through websites like Depop, or listing your wares on the UCF Free and For Sale Facebook group. These profits will add up quickly and allow you to turn the things you don’t use anymore into rent money. It’s one of the quickest ways you can earn some money.
At the end of the day, saving money boils down to doing your research. Pay attention to your biggest expenses and find ways to reduce or eliminate them. Make sure you aren’t buying things you don’t really need or overpaying for the basics. As you work to incorporate the main points of this article into your life, there are many quick adjustments you can also make to see immediate savings— things like couponing and carpooling will make an instant impact on your pocketbook. Good luck, and happy saving!