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Money-Saving Tips for College Students II

College Planning

Earlier, we presented some money-saving tips for college students. Here are additional ways to save cash:

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Car Pooling -- if you go to school close enough to drive home every so often, be sure to establish a car pool. Considering the price of gas and tolls, this could result in a substantial savings. Many students know this, but fail to lock up riders or rides well before major holidays or other occasions when students might go home. Plan ahead. Check out Facebook for groups of students you don't know who might be from your hometown so you have options and fallbacks.

Part-Time Jobs --you go to college to focus on studies so you can graduate and start a good career. In the meantime, you will want to find a part-time job to help with cash flow. Remember, when you are earning money, you are not spending money. If you land a restaurant job, it could also provide you with a way to save on meals. What’s more, you can learn valuable lessons in the workplace – such as the importance of diligence, organization and teamwork – that will serve you well in your studies and your future job path.

When spring arrives, be sure to schedule time early to search for summer jobs. College students have an edge over high school students because classes end earlier. Use that advantage. If you want to take time off, take it at the end of the summer.

Also, if you live off-campus, advertise your apartment for a summer rental early. Many students attending school in the summer are looking for housing. Why rent a place for twelve months when you really only need it for eight?

Banking -- there are a few ways to save here. First of all, ATM fees can be a killer. When you visit the campus, find out which banks are near school with access to ATMs, and check the fees. It might behoove you to open an account in a local bank to save on ATM fees. At an average cost of $2.95 per withdrawal, ten withdrawals and you just threw away nearly $30.

If you can, always keep a reasonable amount in your checking balance. Withdrawing money on the run can cause overdrafts that can be quite costly. Also, read the fine print to make sure you are not paying more than you have to on monthly maintenance fees. Some banks offer special accounts for students. 

If you have a credit card, do not use it except for emergencies. The temptations are too great. In a study conducted by Fidelity Investments, students who graduated in 2013 had an average of $3,000 in credit card debt. That is on top of the student loan debt they are about to face.

Go to Class or Drop Quickly -- you might think you are going to attend all your classes and then there is the reality of discovering you just cannot seem to get to that 8 a.m. lecture on the other side of campus on time. If you don't think the class will work for you, then there is no shame in dropping it. But drop it right away so you do not incur any penalties. Be cognizant that failing that class also means you will not get the credits you need to perhaps graduate on time. Do that a few times and you are adding another semester.

Naturally, at school you will be focused on studies. But be sure to focus as well on your budget right from the start. Adopting smart spending habits immediately will result in significant savings over the course of a four-year degree.

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