Picture this. It’s the day of your school graduation, you’re feeling like a million bucks, dressed to impress in your cap and gown. You hear your name being called and as you walk across the stage to pick up your diploma, you start thinking, The next years are going to be the BEST of my life. But then you look down to see that instead of a diploma, you get a huge bill for student loans and credit card debt. WOAH! Buzzkill much? This is NOT what I signed up for!
When people talk about college, what they usually tell you about is the crazy parties, the exciting dorm life, and the great people you’re going to meet. What they neglect to mention, however, is how expensive life as a student can be. Tuition and books aside, a lot of the time college is the first time students have to worry about spending money on basic everyday things. Sounds expensive enough, right? Well, what if you’re spending more than you should?
When it comes to student spending, here are six areas where you may be overdoing it.
This is a big one. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to go out or genuinely enjoys a ramen-every-night kind of diet, this category might not be for you. But if you do enjoy dining out once in a while, here’s a tip on saving when you do. Many restaurants, diners and cafe shops offer student discounts that you can claim by simply showing your college ID. Unfortunately, it’s not something that they will just bring up when you get the check so a lot of the time, you may have been paying more than you had to without knowing it. Next time, do a little digging online or just ask an employee if the place offers a student discount. If they don’t then, oh well, but if they do, you just saved yourself some money on something you were paying for anyway.
One of the cool perks that most colleges offer is a free fitness center on campus for students. But for those who don’t want to be limited to sweating it out with their classmates or prefer outside gyms with special classes, there is another option. There are countless gyms, dance studios and even pole dancing fitness courses that not only offer discounts on memberships, but also special classes on select nights for college students.
Going out does not necessarily always mean to a bar, club or dinner — even when you’re in college. If you have a date coming up or just want a fun, more relaxed time out with your friends, check out the museums or comedy clubs in your area. Chances are, they offer a special discount for students, and some even have free admission on certain days! Also, if you want to have some fun and make money along the way, bartending courses are also known to offer deals for college students, as well. Have your drink and, well, drink it, too!
Next time you go out for a haircut or mani-pedi, ask if they offer a student discount for college students. Beauty salons, nail salons, and spas are known for giving 15 to 20 percent off your total bill if you are a student — just remember to show your college ID.
Another big one! Going out is expensive, but sometimes inevitable, so make the best of it by doing your homework beforehand. Be aware of all the great happy hours, student deals for drinks and college nights from the bars and clubs in your campus area. Plan ahead so you don’t end up just going to whatever bar you see when the one next door is having a specials night you’re missing out on. (And, of course, drink responsibly!)
6. Doctor’s Visits
Last, but not least, there are the infrequent but essential occasional doctors visits. Many optometrists and laser surgeons are beginning to offer special deals for college students so don’t hesitate to ask!
With all these great deals floating around, you might think, Why didn’t I know about this before? The answer is simple: Most people lack the patience to go scouring the Internet for deals. Others are just embarrassed to ask for them when they don’t know for sure that it is offered. These reasons are both very common among people in general, not just college students, but it is definitely not a good enough reason to not be saving money while you still can. Due to all the great discounts that have been specifically targeted toward college students, companies like The University Network (TUN) have developed a website and free mobile app that makes this process both convenient and easy by doing the work for you.
To use the website all you have to do is go to TUN.com and type in the name of your school in the search bar. A map of the surrounding area will pop up pinpointing all the locations of the businesses that offer student discounts as well as a list with the business names and specific deal. Unlike other “deal sites” like Groupon or Living Social, TUN lists deals that are specifically for college students and they don’t focus on big ticket items but more basic things you’re already spending money on. The free mobile app “TUNdeals” works in the same way and allows you to use your current location to search as well as filter by business type.
There is nothing that you can do about the amount of money you HAVE to spend on tuition, books and dorming as a college student, but things like everyday expenses… those are things that you DO have control over, and you should never spend more than you should.