5 Simple Tips to save money for your first year at college

College is a time to make mistakes – but they don’t have to be financial.

The first year of college can be an incredible experience, as you’re afforded far more freedom than you’ve enjoyed up to that point in your life. While that freedom can be exciting, it can also mean you have a lot of opportunities to make financial mistakes.

Here are seven things you can do during your first year to save a ton of money without detracting anything from the college experience.

1. Wait until your first class before buying textbooks. Sometimes, the books aren’t entirely required for your class, and professors will just rely on notes and documents posted online. And it’s pretty common to change your mind on class list especially for first year students.

2. When you do buy them, buy them used. If you find that you do need to buy textbooks, buy used ones. You can start at Amazon where there’s an extensive selection of used textbooks. You might also want to peek at Craigslist, which has more used textbook listings at the start of new semesters. If it is OK, renting used books is recommended.

3. Use city transportation. As a student at the University of Utah, you can use your Ucard(student card) for any public transportation for free.

4. Go to meetings of campus organizations you might be interested in. Not only do these organizations provide a great way to meet new people who are interested in the same things you are, many of those meetings involve free food. Campus organizations often order pizza or other food for the first meeting of the year, and some will offer food for every meeting.

Take advantage of this and go to lots of meetings, particularly in the first few weeks before schoolwork kicks into overdrive. You’ll eat for free, make new friends and have lots of club options to consider. Our office usually will offer free pizza for our workshops. Come and get the free lunch!

5. Avoid credit card sign-ups like the plague. Credit card hawkers are often present on college campuses, offering freebies like T-shirts and other items to entice you to sign up for a credit card.

No matter how tempting a credit card is, just avoid those booths. If you decide that you do want a card, there are many, many better cards out there than the cards being pushed by the people standing around on campus trying to get you to sign up.

Little steps like these can each save a few hundred dollars (or more) per year, and over the course of a college experience, that adds up to thousands.

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