How to Save Money - Even on a Tight Budget

The expense of higher education seems dear when you’re looking at tuition and student-loan interest rates, but when you start factoring in the cost of living, the numbers begin to seem staggering. If you’re pinching pennies in college or grad school, you’d better be prepared to tap all your creative faculties. Living frugally isn’t impossible, but it is at times an art form that requires experience and energy to master. From buying generic brand goods to riding a bike, these five tips to save money will help you meet your budgetary goals:

1. Buy Generic Brands

From breakfast cereal to prescription drugs, you can save money on many products simply by giving up the brand name. Generic brands are often able to produce identical products at lower prices simply by cutting down on marketing and advertising costs. You will be amazed at the difference: Generic cereals are often half the cost of the original, and prescription drugs can be hundreds of dollars cheaper.

2. Use the Library

One of our nation’s most under-appreciated and valuable public institutions is the public library, and students also have access to well-stocked private institutional libraries as well. Avoid purchasing textbooks and research materials unless absolutely necessary, but make sure to check out the books you need early (i.e before your classmates do!).

3. Find Online Discounts

Coupon-clipping has fallen out of fashion, but there are zillions of apps that will help you save money in ingenious ways. Savored allows you to book last minute reservations for fine dining at deep discounts, which is an unbelievable combination, and Foursquare will tell you where your friends are shopping and eating, while also alerting you to sweet deals at the same locations.

4. Ride a Bike

Biking will save you the expense of gas or a monthly subway pass. Plus, in some large cities, a bike will get you where you’re going faster than a car or public transportation! It’s the right thing to do for the environment and an excellent form of exercise. If you’re not convinced yet, you’re probably just being stubborn. Loosen up -- by taking a ride!

5. Buy a Printer

Printing on campus or at a copyshop costs a fortune, while older-model printers can be bought dirt cheap. This will also save you the trouble of waiting in line to print, and dealing with the paper jams in the arcane industrial-sized machines on campus.

While these five tips to save money will help you shrink your spending, they aren’t the only ways to reduce costs. The trick to living frugally is making conscious decisions about how you spend your money and bringing those decisions into line with your real priorities. Marketing and advertising are designed to provoke impulse spending on items we don’t really value, and this is one major area where Americans lose control of their budgets. If you think about why you want something, how badly you want it and what else you could spend the money on each time you take out your wallet, you’ll be surprised how many purchases you can do without.

About the author : 

Melissa Woodson is the community manager for @WashULaw, one of the premier LLM programs offered through Washington University in St. Louis that allows foreign attorneys to earn their llm degree online. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, and making half-baked attempts at training her dog.
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