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College Savings Jar

Are you staying debt free while in college?

Creatively managing resources is essential if you want to have more fun with shopping, socializing, and enjoying down time. Just as time management is a huge factor, so is budgeting the bill! You need to juggle resources to pay for the cost of living, books, student loans, and still have money left to kick back and rejuvenate doing something fun.

Shopping wisely, scouting for deals, and taking advantage of special discounts is part of the college lifestyle. Following these 5 tips will ensure that you stretch your college dollars further:

Buy Furniture for Next to Nothing

Furnishing a room or apartment is surprisingly inexpensive when you stick to the basics. Retailers such as Ikea and Target carry a wide inventory of office supplies, bedding, and other basic household items that is targeted for frugal dorm room living.

Furniture such as collapsible desks, detachable shelves, and fold-able tables are typically inexpensive. They are also easy to disassemble and pack in a mid-sized car when it’s time to move. If you’re really low on cash, consider buying second hand furniture from Goodwill. Toward the end of the month, the local listings on Craigslist are full of decent furnishings from people who are moving and are in a rush to sell.

Keep the Fridge Stocked with Healthy and Quick Meals

At the end of the day it’s tempting to eat out or grab something prepared from the deli section. Constantly eating on the go leads to malnutrition and an empty wallet. Create a grocery list that includes staples for breakfast, lunch, and healthy snacking.

Preparing lunch is a cinch if you keep items on hand such as deli meat, wraps, bread, salad greens, cheese, yogurt, fruit cups, and condiments. Never skip breakfast before you head out the door. Not only is it the most important meal of the day, it’s also a quick and inexpensive meal that will help curb temptation to waste money on junk food later.

Create a Budget

The real money management doesn’t begin until you roll up your sleeves and take a hard look at where the finances are going. Outline the essential bills first. These include primary bills such as boarding, utilities, books, car payments, insurance, essential travel and grocery expenses. The money that is left will need to be responsibly distributed between where it is needed the most.

Making goals to pay off student loans while in college can be a motivating challenge when creating a budget. Naturally, you will want to keep your shopping money to a minimum. Just make sure that it is a realistic plan that you know you will follow to increase your chances of sticking to your budget.

Check Prices Online

Try to get in the habit of checking the internet before making moderate sized purchases. Finding the best deals online will save you time and money. A search engine is all you need to compare prices, find sales, coupons, and nearby store locations.

Within seconds you will be armed with knowledgeable shopping information that can save you a few well-needed bucks. Opting for refurbished electronics such as notebooks, e-readers, and smart phones will save you a bundle as well. Check for student versions whenever you buy software.

Find Free Things to do in Your Free Time

There are plenty of free activities to do that are relaxing and fun. Kicking back at your place and hanging out with friends is all you need to unwind and have a good time. Make some popcorn and pick up a DVD at the neighborhood library for something to watch.

When the indoor life finally becomes tiring, get out for some fresh air at the park, beach, or a museum. The more money you save on regular down time, the more you will have for planning bigger events such as a spring vacation.

It pays to network and share your discoveries with other students to find deals where you didn’t think to look yourself. Regularly check in with the school’s financial advisor to learn about new student discounts and grants as they become available to you.

Do you have any other tips to share with us? Please include them in the comments below!

About the author:

Sani Golriz is a community blogger and staff writer for CollegeFocus. You can find CollegeFocus on Facebook at