Throughout our school years, we are prompted by our teachers and peers to consider the future, and figure out what we want our ‘dream job’ or ‘career’ to be. Many people have a passion set from the start of middle school all the way to senior year, while others may take a few years after graduation to consider. Many may not even bother with the idea at all until very late. Regardless of when you decide, you’re going to need a starter guide as to how you’ll be saving the money for this college journey you’re planning to make.
Here are ten ways you can begin saving that are considered wise financial decisions. Note that these tips don’t have to apply when saving up for Petroleum Engineering school, but in many different areas of your life!
Early To Bed, Early To Rise
The phrase, ‘the early bird gets the worm’ is no stranger to many of us. But with that said, many people may still wait until after high school to consider a college path. Not everyone is going to be a freshman or in middle school searching the internet for ways to save for college. But starting early is one of the easiest and the most popular ways of saving for college. The sooner you begin saving for college, the more you will save if you are intent on getting into college. Whether it’s $5 a day, $20 a week, or even $50 a month, it is better than starting with nothing. Saving $20 a week equals up to $1,040 a year. If you’re starting as a Freshman, that’s almost $5,000 by the time you’re out of high school. While it will not seem like a lot to begin with, it will gradually add up, and that is the important part.
Consider a Savings Account. There are banks that offer college-specific accounts, which most of the time are tax-free. What this means is that any interest you earn on this account will not have tax deducted from it, thereby keeping your savings secure. There will be no penalties if you withdraw the money to use it for college bound materials such as textbooks or tuition. You may need to save up a bit before you can earn yourself an account at one of these banks, as there is normally a minimum deposit, or even a monthly minimum deposit required to open the account. Some deposits may be as low as $25-50 per month, and some may even be lower if you have a parent or guardian as a co-signer. Take advantage of the time you have off from school or work, and trek around your area to find a bank with a savings plan that fits your standards!
Tell everyone you know that you’re saving for money. Your friends and family can be a big help in the saving department by changing those birthday and Christmas gifts into cards full of money to add to your balance. I’m sure we all have the occasional family member or friend who constantly buys you things you really don’t need or barely use over the course of owning it. Now would be a great time to get on the phone or send an email and tell them about your need for college money, and how you would really appreciate gifts of checks and cash in cards rather than unnecessary gifts. Be sure to tell them that it is by no means impersonal to simply send a card with money. This is your personal journey to getting into college and learning or expanding on a skill to start your career! How much more personal can you get?
Used Over New
I’m sure we all feel like the Weasleys from Harry Potter when you hear that it’s better to purchase secondhand textbooks for college, but if you are seriously thinking of getting into college, you have to take practical and logical over vanity. Purchasing used books from the college you’re attending, Amazon.com, or other online textbook websites helps you save a lot of money, especially when you’ll be scrapping for it after dishing out the dough for your tuition. Aside from the money-saving factor, you may find some surprises in that textbook of yours. There have been countless occasions of people finding gift certificates, money, and even answers to their math problems in their used text books. In addition to all of the above, you can sell those textbooks back to the college or to those same websites you purchased from and get a nice chunk of refund after you’ve finished all that college work!
Home Sweet Home
Let’s face it, we’ve spent 12 years of our lives with our parents constantly checking over our shoulders, shouting up the stairs, calling us on our phones, and asking us five times an evening whether or not we got our homework down or if we’ve had enough to eat to keep us running. But let’s think logically and practically here. Do you really want to worry about room and board on top of your tuition? Sure, being on campus gets you out on the social route, but you are here to learn a skill or trade, and that’s how you set it to be. Don’t be distracted or lose focus just because your new friends encourage you to be as laid back about their studies as they are. They may not share the same major, which can change the rigor of a college experience. Think about how tough it is saving up for tuition alone, and consider the possibility of staying home, especially if you live near your college or university.
Let’s suppose you’re really not up to the idea of staying with your parents. Perhaps you have some friends that you can stay with if your college is farther away from your home retreat. If your friends offer you no consolation, what about the friends that share your interests? Believe it or not, many friends are as gung ho about getting into the same major as you are, and may even want to share the college experience with you. This makes it cheaper to live in a dorm, rather then getting an apartment for yourself. If none of your friends are taking the trip with you, consider a dorm to share with some new classmates of the school. This helps introduce you to a bit of your new community, and helps your social skills as well.
It’s alright if you’re not headed for a fancy university or a popular college. Sometimes, those take a few more years of work before you can try out for the big league. Until then, settle with a community college. They’re cheap, near home, and they help you earn credits that will transfer to your university of choice. Even if you have the money ready for university, consider that the stress of college life may be too much for you, and you don’t want that good money to go to waste! Consider starting a community college route before going to university. Learn how to handle the work, and grind up some extra credit!
Your parents are there to support you. Not everyone has the parents that are behind them on everything, but after you’ve chosen your major, ask your parents if they will contribute to the cause. If they won’t help you out with college fees, ask if they’ll help you pay for the books, car payments, insurance, perhaps a phone to keep in touch. Many parents may be stubborn, seeing their child go into a field they by no means approve of, but it is better to ask and get rejected before you trek off to college and realize that they may have saved you a few months of tuition!
Saving and starting college doesn’t have to be hard. Taking advantage of these tips ahead of time will help you in the long run, whether you use one or all eight of them! Good luck!