Traditional money-saving tips for college students might not be as useful for those who commute to school every day.
While housing costs can be lower for commuters, especially for students living with family, other costs can add up quickly.
As a commuter, making the most of your time on campus is the key to saving money.
Here are a few easy ways to save some cash while working with the unique set of challenges that come with being a commuting student.
1. Bring snacks
This tip will save you money no matter what kind of student you are, but is especially helpful for commuters.
Commuting means long stretches on campus between classes, and it’s tempting to stop by a fast food restaurant or the nearby campus coffee shop for a coffee or snack in your downtime.
Try to fight that urge, because buying a lunch every weekday can add up to hundreds of dollars a month.
Since most commuters don’t have a meal plan, you’re much better off packing a sandwich from home.
2. Use the campus library
This is another way to maximize any long breaks you might have between classes.
Instead of driving home and back to campus multiple times a day, take advantage of your campus library’s free WiFi and study there.
The library is a better study location than a coffee shop, because you won’t be tempted to buy a latte (or three) while you hit the books.
Plus, studying in between classes means that you have less work to do when you get home at the end of the day.
3. Get job on campus
If you already spend most of your time on campus, why not get a campus job?
Finding a job on campus means you’ll earn some extra cash, and you won’t use as much gas as you would with a job farther away.
Also, most campus jobs are relatively flexible and will work around your class schedule, an added bonus that off-campus jobs might not offer.
4. Keep a budget
This tip is the most important of all. If you don’t have a budget in place, the money you save by packing a lunch or earn through your paychecks can be spent before you know what happened.
Tracking your cash flow may seem dull, but there are tons of great apps out there to help you out. (Check out online banking tips from Wells Fargo.)
At the very least, make a budget for food, gas, and a small miscellaneous “fun” budget in order to keep your spending in check.
Try to save about 10 percent of your paycheck if possible. Your future self will thank you.