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Easy Money Saving Tips for College Students

Alex Kelly -- As a college student without a full-time income, it can be difficult finding savings advice that actually applies to you. Here are simple things you can do to save money with a limited budget.

Are you looking for money saving tips that work for a student budget? You've come to the right place. As a college student without a full-time income, it can be difficult finding savings advice that actually applies to you. But, whether it's funds for study abroad, books for next term, spring break with friends or a new computer, you still have some very tangible savings needs. And, there are simple things you can do to save money with a limited budget.

So, here are some simple money saving tips to get you started. First, you should absolutely start saving during college! Tuition aside, your expenses will probably never be this low again. The best thing you can do now is start to build a student savings account, no matter how small it may seem. When you graduate and the bills get bigger, you'll be glad you have some cash to fall back on.

1. Look for a campus job

So, before you can start saving, you have to accumulate some money. Look for a campus job where you can earn money during college. Students perform jobs all over campus, from tutoring, cleaning dorms and serving food in cafeterias, to working at the library desk or office of admissions. Not only will this put money in your pocket, but campus employers are generally more understanding about your class, study and activity schedules. You could also look off-campus for work as a waiter, store clerk or babysitter if your schedule allows it. You may be able to find an internship or field work in your area to gain some experience and prepare yourself for your postgraduate career.

2. Find little ways to save by living like a student

Once you have a job, even if it earns you $20 per week, focus your attention on spending less. Reducing your spending is actually more important than finding another job to earn even more money. That sounds crazy, but here's why: Let's say you earn $8 per hour working in the library or cafeteria. If you work six hours in a week, you've earned $48. Now, let's say it's Friday and you buy pizza and go to a movie for a total of $25. You've just spent more in three hours than you earned in three hours!

So, your choice is to either work more hours to make up the difference, or save it in the first place by looking for cheaper alternatives that are still fun. It's a lot less effort to save it. For example, if you choose to rent a movie or use your meal plan for dinner, you can reduce that bill. Take the money you saved by making smart choices, and use it to open a new savings account.

3. Start small and open a savings account

Now that you're monitoring your spending, reward yourself for your efforts by opening a student savings account. Rather than sticking the $10 you didn't spend at the movies in your desk drawer, deposit it into a savings account that can earn you interest.

Once the account is open, ask if your bank offers automatic deposits. Most do. You can set up automatic deposits to transfer money from your checking into your savings account. Even depositing $7 per week can add up fast. In just one year, you'd have saved more than $365, and with automatic deposits, you probably didn't even notice.

4. Look for more ways to save

On top of your automatic deposits, see if your bank has any cash rewards for saving. For example, bundling a savings account with a student checking account may make you eligible for better interest rates or student discounts on things you buy most often, like food, entertainment and books.

Other banks will help you set realistic savings goals and track your progress. Then, when you reach your savings goal, you may be eligible for a cash bonus.

Just following these two money saving tips could earn you money without costing you anything or making you change your habits.

5. Take the next savings step with a money market account or CD

If you're successful at saving with a student savings account, you may want to look into CDs and money market accounts. These types of accounts are especially appealing because they have higher interest rates. The downside is that you need a higher starting balance, and you'll have limited access to it. So, these accounts are best if you're trying to save for something big like a down payment on a car or maybe airplane tickets and study abroad tuition. You'll earn more money in interest and you won't be able to tap into these savings since they have limited access. (Technically, you could, but you'd have to pay a substantial fee.)

Keep looking for convenient ways to save

There are plenty of feasible ways for college students to save out there -- just look! You can find student discounts for the movies, restaurants, public transit, textbooks, car repairs, laundromats and more. You can also look for fun events and student services on campus that cost nothing. Just asking when you make a purchase if your student ID makes you eligible for a deeper discount can keep money in your pocket.

You can also find more helpful money saving tips and savings account choices from a trusted bank like Citizens Bank. Alex Kelly is a senior content specialist at one of the top interactive agencies in the U.S.

© 2014 Alex Kelly

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