Chances are that you're going to want to take a cell phone to college. With affordable rates and plans, especially ones with unlimited nights and national long distance, you should be able to use your cell phone as your only phone. If you don't sign up for the college phone service, you could save yourself around $25 per month. You do want to test whether you have reception in your dorm before you purchase a cell phone. Some providers are better than others on campus so you might want to wait until you get to college before picking a cell phone service. Your college may also offer a student discount on cell phone plans.
Instead of buying the overpriced pizza at the student center, why not pack your lunch? Get friendly with Cup-O-Noodles and other instant entrees for those times that you're in a rush. Also learn some basic recipes that you can use to cook dinner instead of going out to eat. The key to making eating at home work for you is variety. Don't stick to a single recipe that you'll burn out on. The usual suspects are, of course, frozen pizza and pasta. If you don't have a full kitchen in your dorm room, make use of that ubiquitous machine that makes great popcorn—your microwave. There are hundreds of dishes that can be made easily and quickly in the microwave. For some ideas, take a look at the money-saving recipes in Recipes and Tips for Healthy, Thrifty Meals that is available for free at http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov.
Before you get to college, it sounds sensible to sign up for three meals a day through the college meal plan. The reality is that very few students wake up in time for breakfast. Add to that the occasional eating out for lunch or dinner and suddenly you are paying for meals that you don't eat. When selecting a meal plan, it is usually better to start with fewer meals than you think you will want. You can always increase your meal plan next semester or the following year. Plus, we've never heard of a college student going hungry.
Saving money is about cutting unnecessary expenses and maximizing the value of each dollar. While this is going to take a sustained effort, it does not have to be painful. Think of savings as a challenge. Get excited about doing more with less and every once in a while give yourself a reward for meeting your own savings goals. You deserve it. If you have more money saving ideas, please share them in the comments and let's all help each other.
Gen and Kelly Tanabe
Founders of SuperCollege and authors of 13 books on college planning.
By: Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Need money for college? Stressed over how to pay the next tuition bill? Searching for a way to get a degree without going broke? Whether you need a full-tuition scholarship or a little extra cash to make ends meet, 1001 Ways to Pay for College provides students and parents with the answers.