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Realistic Ways to Save Time and Money in College

The transition to college can be stressful, no matter how prepared you are. As a student, you have many decisions to make, like what to major in, which classes to take, and how to get involved on campus.

Add in the responsibility of paying for school, keeping up with a part-time or full-time job, and a steady load of coursework, and it's easy to become overwhelmed and financially overextended. As a college student, I learned the hard way what happens when you procrastinate and overspend.

Here are a few tips you can use to save time and money in college, so you can worry less—and feel confident about your future.

How to Make the Most of the Time You Have

Learning to manage your time is an essential skill to being successful in college (and in your future career). While the best approach to time management may look different from one person to the next, here are a few ideas to get started.

Once you've picked your classes and have your course syllabi for the semester, buy or create a calendar. From here, outline the semester, highlighting essential dates for midterms, papers, presentations, and other assignments. You can colour-code it and get as creative as you like—the point is to see every deadline coming your way. Once you have this completed, try these things:

1.Plan by week


Schedule out your week in a daily planner, whether on paper or on your phone. If you're like me and like to schedule everything, record when you'll go to the gym, break for meals, spend time with friends, study, and pursue other activities. If you prefer a rough outline of your schedule, jot in any significant deadlines for a given week. This technique will keep you on track and help you avoid pulling all-nighters, which can mess with your schedule and, potentially, your grades and mental health.


2.Start with the simple to-dos


Completing easy tasks immediately after class—or as soon as you can—are an easy way to cross off your to-do list without worrying about anything on it falling to the wayside. One of my undergraduate classes required self-reflection pieces each week. I always completed them right after class because the material was fresh in my head, which made the writing process quicker and in a way, more genuine.

For a larger writing assignment, calculate how much time you have to complete it and divide that by the minimum number of pages you're required to write. For instance, if you're assigned a 20-page paper and you have 12 weeks to complete it, you'll need to write about 1.66 pages per week to get it done. It seems much more manageable when you look at it this way.

3.Back up your work


Technology is a beautiful thing, but when it fails us, it can have catastrophic effects. Ever have a 15-page paper due the next morning, and your hard drive dies? Your professor may or may not be understanding, and I would guess that you'd prefer to do without the frustration (and extra work) that a similar incident could cause.

So be sure to email yourself a copy of the writing assignment you were working on and save a copy on a USB. This way, if your computer died, I had two options for getting it back. You can also use Google docs to save your work. It never hurts to have multiple copies of your work.

4.Keep distractions at bay



I can't stress this enough; there is no more significant time waster than setting aside time to get work done and getting distracted by friends, your cat, the weather, the TV, anything. If you know that you are easily distracted at home, then seek out time at the library or in a study room. If you struggle to focus, set aside an hour to study, take a break, and repeat.

Let's Talk About Money Management

Money is probably one of the most significant stressors facing college students, thanks in part to growing tuition and fees, additional academic expenses like textbooks, and the limited time to devote to earning money. Here are some ideas on how to maximize your budget.

1.Change up your grocery shopping habits


Want to save money on food? Know that thinking cheap doesn't have to mean scrimping on quality. Most towns and cities have a farmer's market that offers seasonal produce and other goods at a severely discounted price. If there isn't a farmer's market in your area, consider splitting a membership to a warehouse store like spencer's or Walmart with a few friends or roommates. Planning for regular shopping trips may be enough to let you opt-out of your campus meal plan—and save a fortune on food.

2.Skip the restaurant



As great as not having to cook is, in many cases, what you order at a given restaurant can almost always be made at home for less. For those who see heading out for a meal as a time to catch up and socialize with friends, consider inviting a group over for a communal meal. Not only will you save money, but you'll also have leftovers and the added fun of making a meal together.

3.Look for freebies


As the old saying goes, "the best things in life are free." This sentiment rings especially true as a college student. In my experience, most of the outings with friends, guest lectures, and concerts I attended were free and found through local paper, word of mouth, and social media. I made such a routine of it that my the second year, I had barely paid anything for entertainment and other events. The best part was, my friends, became so curious about my adventures that they all started tagging along—and saving money too.