Leaving home for College can be a big change – especially if it’s the first time in your life you’ll be in charge of your own spending. If you live on campus as a first-year student then a meal plan is required, so you’re already saving on food, rent and utilities – congratulations! Here are a few more ways to keep cash in your pocket while still enjoying an awesome first year of college.
1. Buy used textbooks (and then sell them).
Unless the newest edition is required, you can buy used textbooks from the College’s bookstore for a lot less than new books. Then, at the end of the semester, you can sell the books back to the bookstore or any of the stands set up on campus. Sometimes your books won’t be worth what you hoped, but often you can walk away from the semester with hundreds of dollars back in your wallet.
2. Flash your Cougar Card.
Tons of shops and businesses in town offer a student discount, but sometimes you have to ask to find out. J. Crew and Madewell, for example, offer 15 percent off for students, and plenty of local salons or fitness studios offer varying percentages off as well.
3. Use Mint.com.
Set up budgets for various necessities and keep track of your spending with a personal finance site like Mint. The service will send you weekly spending summaries and alerts when you overspend or when you have a bill coming up if you link your debit card information with your account.
4. Explore Charleston’s many, many food deals.
Charleston has one of the best restaurant scenes in the country so it would be a shame to miss out on it your first year. Fortunately, you can take advantage of a few weekly food deals, like the half-price burger night at Moe’s Crosstown Tavern, half-price sushi at Oku during their happy hour, and specials at Fast and French if you’re feeling a little fancy.
5. Earn credits outside.
Interested in sailing? How about Standup paddle boarding, horseback riding, swimming, tennis, yoga or figure skating? If you have some extra time in your schedule, sign up for a College class instead of paying to use other facilities.
Physical education activity course offerings include Beginning Yoga, Beginning Figure Skating, Beginning Horseback Riding, Beginning Sailing… You get the idea. See more in pages 418-19 of the 2014-15 Course Catalog.
6. Check out Cougar Activities Board events.
The Cougar Activities Board (CAB) serves as the primary, campus-wide body for student programming at the College. The organization offers fun, often free, events (like screenings of new movies, open mic nights and haunted house events around Halloween) to help you experience the campus and the city to the fullest.
7. Catch a game.
Looking for something to do after class or on the weekends? College of Charleston Athletics teams hold games and competitions all year at state-of-the-art stadiums and fields. Tickets are free when you scan your Cougar Card.
8. Leave your car at home.
College of Charleston parking permits are not afforded to first-year students with fewer than 30 credit hours, so if you do bring your car to school then you’ll have to find and pay for your own parking. Charleston is a pedestrian-friendly city with a bus service that’s free (free!) to students running throughout the Charleston area. Living downtown without a car makes saving on gas, parking and other car maintenance costs easy.
9. Share a bike.
In addition to walking and bussing, a bike can be a great way to get around Charleston. Rather than buying a new one, you can rent a bike for the day with the Office of Sustainability’s Bike Share program. Just go to the Theodore S. Stern Student Center (71 George St.) and check one out at the information desk with your Cougar Card.
10. Read all about it.
The College’s library offers a large selection of books, including novels, nonfictions, and even some textbooks. Additionally, Charleston County Public Library is a great resource for pleasure reading, including e-books for rent to your tablet or smartphone.
11. Book smart.
If you need to fly home for holidays, try to book your flights as soon as you know your dates – holiday travel can get extremely expensive as the holiday approaches. Websites like Kayak let you find the best deal by comparing hundreds of airline and discount websites. Booking early in the week can also help you save money.