(This is a guest article by Caroline Fraissinet*)
An education is one of the best investments that you can make…but that investment can mean that a little extra cash might come in handy while you’re earning your degree. However, there are a few small things that you can do to spend the money that you do have more effectively. Here are four quick and easy ways to save money:
- Cook! – Pizza and take-out may be quick, convenient and relatively cheap, but it can add up over time. Generally, buying ingredients to make your own meals is much more cost-effective (and usually tastier, too!) For example, instead of buying pre-made pasta sauces, it may be cheaper to buy all of the ingredients and make a larger batch of sauce yourself. Cooking your own meals can also be creative, social and even relaxing. Keeping the times that you choose to order food down can help to save a few dollars here and there.
- Break Those Bills – A simple way to accumulate a little more cash without even thinking about it is to break bills whenever possible. Always pay for things with bills and put the change aside. Try not to use the change unless absolutely necessary. Let it build up in a jar or piggy bank. When it’s full (which may take very little time), take everything to the bank to get it changed into cash. You’d be surprised at how much money you can collect over time.
- Don’t Pay Full Price – With a little bit of searching, you might find that almost anything you want can be purchased for a lower price than you might expect. For most items available, there’s usually always a coupon or discount for it somewhere. It may seem insignificant to clip that 40-cents-off coupon, but if you clip enough, you may save a good chunk of change. But don’t let your deal-searching stop at what you find in the paper. Many restaurants offer great deals if you sign up for their mailing list. For example, Buca di Beppo frequently sends out $10 off a $20 purchase for both dine-in and take-out options to people who sign up for their e-mail list. College towns and cities also often offer programs that give discounts for students at local shops, such as Campus Philly in Philadelphia. For online shopping, you can often search around and find some great promotional codes that could take off a few bucks or even get you free shipping (check sites such as retailmenot and shopping-bargains by entering the name of the online retailer you want to get something from). In short, always research whether or not there’s a discount somewhere before making a purchase. A simple web search may save you a good deal of money.
- Take Surveys – One of the easiest ways to make some quick cash is to participate in surveys. In bigger cities, there are often research studies going on that will pay qualified participants a certain amount of money for voicing their opinion on something. College campuses sometimes offer paying research studies as well. There are also many websites that offer online surveys with cash or gift card payouts. SendEarnings.com has many different ways in which members can earn money, from taking surveys to buying things online for credit to even simply reading e-mails that they send out. PollingPoint.com, EPollSurveys.com and ESurvey.com offer cash payouts, but also other types of rewards such as gift cards to a good number of locations as well as high-quality electronics. Other survey sites, such as SurveyU.com, gear their surveys more towards students, which can mean that qualification for particular studies might be easier. The one issue with earning money through surveys is that it can take a long time for your money to actually get to you if you’re requesting a check; fortunately, more and more survey sites are offering PayPal payment as an option, which sometimes makes the process of getting paid a lot quicker. Who knew simply expressing your opinion could have such a payoff?
All of these small actions can help to save you a few much-needed dollars in college and beyond. Saving money sometimes does not take much more than thinking about where your money is going and being resourceful about spending, but it can have a huge payoff. Following these four simple tips may help you to keep some cash in your wallet without costing you too much time and effort.
*About the author: This is a guest post by Caroline Fraissinet, a student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, majoring in Film/Video with a minor in TV Production. More articles by Caroline can be found here.
*Image Credit: Photograph by seychelles88 [via Flickr Creative Commons]