Do These Students Go Too Far to Save Money?

College students are always looking for a way to live a little cheaper. They cut corners, eat ramen noodles and treat college life like they're sharing a joint sentence with other students. You may be one of the students who have found ways to save, only to later use your money to splurge on spring break. Listen, some things do not save as much money as you think, and other things may not be worth sacrificing.

money saving tips for college students

Buying Used

While recycling items is both economically and ecologically friendly, sometimes it just isn't worth buying things used, no matter the deal you get on them. Let's face it, would you be willing to trade underwear with a friend (we won't even suggest a stranger)? Some things are personal and should be carefully considered before being reused. Sheets can be a perfect example of this.

While some students buy used sheets from graduating students or thrift stores, consider what sheets are used for prior to purchasing. Besides sleeping, many college students have the unfortunate experience of hangovers (i.e. vomiting) while in bed. While unlikely, some students may wet the bed, eat, have colds or fevers, spill things, study in bed or sleep nude (let's not forget other relationship activities). In a college dorm, your bed is essentially the living and sleeping area. Plus, after a few washes, the dye has begun to fade.

On the flip side, many stores offer great deals on bedding before students leave for college. For fewer than ten dollars, you can sometimes find brand new sheets in a style or color you prefer. So unless you're very close to the person willing to give you their sheets, save sheet-sharing to hospitals and hotels.

Garbage Picker

Garbage picking is one of those money-saving tips that can be useful, if done correctly. The best place for you, a student, to dumpster dive is at your college. When students graduate, items become less important than during their studies. Many grads throw out organizers, shelves, textbooks, even microwaves as they prepare for their new lives. Be sure to check (after looking for other pilfering critters) the dumpsters behind dorms. As long as nothing was damaged, you could find a lamp, corkboard or other handy dorm room items.

When students pack their bags for the first day of college, they often overestimate how small their dorm room will be. Boxes of mementos, crates or other items that could be useful may find their way into the trash, simply because of a lack of room. The student is likely to keep the picture of Fluffy, but they may throw away a frame in perfect condition.

Lastly - it's a sad fact - many people still don't recycle. This is great news for trash pickers. Soda cans and bottles (some states now charge a five cent deposit on water bottles too) are often littering the dump. With a little dedication, you can make a difference to the environment and make a pretty nickel off of the work.

Of course, when diving for treasures, there are a few things you must remember. Be safe. Broken glass or sharp steel corners can cause serious injuries. Make sure you have your immunizations, and if you do get hurt - get treated immediately. You never know what else could've been in the trash. And, have a limit to what you'll take. Six extra packages of ramen are not worth salvaging.

Eat Right

Speaking of ramen, it's important for students to eat on the cheap. While the food may be good in the dining hall, you may not have a meal plan that covers every meal. Or, if you're studying for a test late into the night, you may have cravings. When saving money with food, it's important to balance nutrition and taste versus expense.

There's a reason that the freshman 15 is not just a rumor. Many students shop at discount stores to find the cheapest meals. Stocking up on ramen may seem like an excellent choice, but with one package equaling a whopping 70% of your daily sodium value and 34% of your daily saturated fat allowance, think twice about your food choices. Anything that is convenient (like canned ravioli or soups) will likely do more harm to your body than good. When buying food, be sure to look at the nutritional values and try to find ways to lower the bad and boost the good. For instance, reduce the amount of seasoning powder you put in your ramen and add some frozen veggies to make a healthier meal.

Also, consider making large portions of meals that will keep for a while (or that you can freeze) when you do have time to cook. Eating leftovers is a great way to save money and stay healthy on the go.

Wash Up!

Another way that students try to save money is by cleaning themselves, dishes, their room and laundry as infrequently as possible. While living in a dorm, there is something you must remember - unlike your parents, you're not paying for water.

While not showering daily may save time, it does not save money. In fact, it may cost you more in the end. Shampoo and soap are reasonably priced - most dollar stores carry hygiene products - so there is no reason you can't afford these things. Actually, most dollar stores sell laundry detergent and cleaning products. For fewer than ten dollars you can be hygienically prepared for a semester or two.

Let's be honest, not washing your dishes or cleaning your dorm room is just an excuse to be lazy. Again, you don't pay for your water, so there is no cost there. One bottle of dish soap will last you at least a year. A bottle of cleaner or furniture polish will also last a year or more. Usually, you can borrow the vacuum from the housekeeper, and since you're not paying for electricity - no cost!

The only thing that does cost is laundry. Most colleges have washers and dryers that charge per use (this is how they pay for those water and electric costs). Wearing each pair of pants or shirt at least twice is reasonable (provided you didn't spill spaghetti on your shirt). Underwear is a different story - and turning them inside out doesn't create a second pair! But, if you don't bathe, you'll be putting clean clothes on a dirty body, and you'll only need to do laundry sooner.

To save money on your laundry, buy inexpensive detergents (white vinegar can be used as a fabric softener). Also, invest in a drying rack to let the air dry your clothes and save on dryer costs. You can also hand wash some items to save money. If you have a car, go to a nearby laundromat - they may charge less per load than your college. If you have a small load or just want to wash your favorite jeans, offer to share the load with a friend and split the cost in half. Saving time and money while in college is important, but don't sacrifice your hygiene or your social life to do it.

Want something other than ramen? Check out these five cheap and easy meals.

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