1. Don't forget to send that Venmo request
When you go out with friends, it's always easier for one person to cover the bill and everyone else to Venmo. Even if you're just grabbing coffee, who wants to hold up the line by having your entire group check out separately? Though it's easier, forgetting to send the Venmo request is a big problem. At the end of the month, you may have racked up tens or even hundreds of dollars more than expected, while your friends get off free! It may be awkward, but the real social faux pas is not having control of your money, so send out those requests!
2. Be on the hunt for free food
Everyone gets tired of the dining hall after a while. Even if you live off campus, cooking every night between classes, clubs and exams just isn't possible sometimes. If you're going to go out to eat with friends, or order takeout, looking for free food is your best option. Want to know a little known secret? Many schools have a free food listserv or newsletter, where resourceful students compile all of the places (sometimes daily or weekly) where you can find free food on campus. You can often find free food at events with speakers, club meetings, info sessions, tailgates, job fairs, and more.
3. Buy secondhand furniture and appliances (new to you)
At the end of every semester, students move in and out of dorms and apartments. Because moving is inconvenient, and storing large items like couches and refrigerators over the summer can be expensive, there's always perfectly good appliances and furniture to those who look for them. Check Facebook groups, forums, and social media and you're bound to find someone selling or giving away a "Like new sofa that fits four" or a "Mini fridge with freezer" somewhere around campus. Pro tip: Make sure the person you're dealing with is a student, you want to be safe when purchasing or picking up secondhand items from strangers. Another good thing about shopping secondhand? It's better for the environment
4. 🙅♂️ Don't forget to cancel free trials
Listen, many subscriptions are necessary. It's hard to make it through a day without Spotify, and I couldn't imagine not ending a stressful week without a Netflix binge. But sometimes, you sign up for a subscription, tell yourself you're going to remember to cancel the subscription before the free trial ends, and you end up forgetting. Months later, you've spent a ton of money that you can't get back, and often times, you didn't even use the subscription in the meantime. Do your wallet a favor and put 'Cancel Free Trial' in your calendar, a few days before the subscription is supposed to renew. With cards like Fizz, you don't have to worry, as we automatically cancel free trials for you.
5. Don't waste money on books you can find online
Look, this is one of the oldest tricks in the game. 9 times out of 10, you can find the book that you need for a class online, for free. If you're fine reading a PDF or ebook, there's no need to splash out hundreds of dollars on a giant textbook that you won't be able to resell or use again the next year. Here's a simple trick, Google the name of the book followed by "filetype: PDF" like and you'll have a better chance of finding the text you're looking for. If you can't find the book, it's always good to find a friend who'll split with you (then you have a built-in study partner!), or buy the book used from a local store or online.
6. All you have to do is ask 👩🎓
Almost everyone's willing to lend a hand to a college student on a budget. Many businesses will give you a discount for showing your student ID. Picking up a few things in town? Ask the cashier if the store has a student discount, many times the answer is yes. Shopping online? Hit Ctrl+F or ⌘+F and type in "student" and often times you'll find a student discount to sign up for. Being money-smart while you shop starts with looking out for the dollars and cents. One of the easiest ways to do that is to just ask. Fizz has discounts built in, so you don't have to hope and pray for a student discount, or rustle through your bag to find your student ID if there is one.
7. Use 👏 the 👏 bus.
You see that student ID in your pocket? Well at many colleges and universities, it gives you free or deeply discounted rides on university-owned and local transit. The best part? Riding the bus is always cheaper but sometimes even faster than Ubering or taking a Lyft. Many people don't take the bus because they don't know the routes, but campus and local bus routes are very easy to learn, and it only takes a few rides to learn the way. The cherry 🍒 on top? Taking public transit instead of rideshare is just as good for the environment as it is for your wallet.
8. Money out < money in 💸
And you thought you'd never use math in the real world. This one sounds simple, and it is, but it's really important to keep front of mind. Whatever money you have coming in, from your job, allowance, or summer internship savings, should be less than the money you're spending. This is a big part of budgeting. Make yourself a promise that you won't go crazy, and keep a tally of how much you've spent each week. If it's less than what you're earning, you're in the green, and on your way to building healthy financial habits.
9. Coffee grows on trees, but money doesn't ☕
Whether you're a coffee or a tea person, it's hard to survive college without your beverage of choice. The problem? A coffee can cost around $5 if you're not careful, and that adds up quickly. Making coffee at home, or getting free coffee from the library is the way to go. A Keurig or Nespresso will cost you, but if you do the math, you'll end up saving money over the course of the school year. Tea person? Electric tea kettles can be found online for cheap, and they won't take up much space in your dorm or apartment. Friends asking you to meet them to study or chat at a coffee shop? Go. As long as you're not going everyday, splurging on a latte out is perfectly alright. Financial wellness means you don't have to sacrifice 100% of the time.
10. Shop at the local co-op
Live off campus or cooking in your res hall kitchen? Forget the grocery store. In many college towns, there are co-ops, where you can go to find produce and other goods from that are often locally sourced and cheaper than what you might find in the grocery store. If you're shopping for your roommates too, most co-ops give discounts for buying in bulk, so you're in luck.
Sam is a Kenyon College alum and is head of content at Fizz. He's been a go to personal finance resource among his peers since getting his first credit card during his sophomore year of college. He hails from Washington, DC, loves all things aviation, and currently lives in Los Angeles.