ScoreCard Research Haley Gonzalez - The Penny Hoarder

For many people, going to college is expensive, and tuition is just one reason why.

College costs also include room and board, a meal plan and textbooks. Anything extra is a perk.

When I was a in college, I was lucky enough that my parents paid for all the necessities. However, I knew I would have to get a job and save money if I wanted to pay for any additional expenses outside of the “typical college experience.”

8 Strategies to Help You Save Money While in College

I recently graduated with a double major, and I did it without sinking into any major money pits. These eight tricks -- all of which I learned early in my college career -- helped me.

1. Find the Free Food

On-campus clubs often spend the first few weeks of the fall semester recruiting students. While meeting new people is a perk on its own, the promise of free snacks always helps get people in the door.

Be on the lookout for flyers around campus, as this is how many organizations spread the word about meetings. Clubs hold their meetings on different days of the week, so in theory, you could plan an entire week of meals based around those meetings.

Once you see the pizza, go for it. Organizations don’t often plan to feed 100 people during their first meeting. When the pizza is gone, you’ve missed your chance.

2. The Dollar Menu Is Your Friend (Sometimes)

The dollar menu is readily available at dining establishments such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Sonic Drive-In. These will be your friends when you need emergency late-night meals after coming home from a party cramming for an exam.

While spending $2 on a burger and fries on occasion won’t kill your budget, if you’re ordering food on Ubereats every day after your 7 p.m. class because it’s more “convenient” than going to the dining hall that’s a five-minute walk away, your bank account will likely not thank you by the end of the month.

3. The Unlimited Meal Plan Is Not Always the Best Option

Although an unlimited amount of food sounds great when you’re a starving college student in need of an ice cream fix, you may be overpaying for the amount of food you’re actually consuming.

If you eat four meals a day and can get endless coffee refills, the unlimited plan might be a great way to save money. However, if you don’t eat breakfast and you fix yourself a PB&J for lunch every day in the cafeteria, you can save a lot of money by getting a small meal plan and making food at home.

Knowing your eating habits can help you find the best value when it comes to meal plans.

4. DIY Your Food

Eating out is expensive. Save money by DIYing your meals.

I’m not saying you have to meal plan every week while in the dorms, but it’s a great idea to have some staples on hand in case you’re running late or you need a snack after the dining areas shut down for the night.

Some of these staples can include granola bars to eat while walking to class, a piece of fresh fruit before hitting the gym or even a PB&J while studying in the library.

5. Make Your Own Coffee

I know Starbucks is on your campus a la carte plan, but once the free cash runs out, you may face withdrawal from your iced coffee habit -- and you may end up spending your hard-earned cash on that addiction luxury.

That one “treat yourself” drink can suck up your cash faster than you can place your order. Save yourself some time and money and just make your coffee at home.

You can even buy syrups and flavors of coffee in bulk from your local Walmart, Costco or some Starbucks locations.

6. Don’t Splurge on Dorm Decorations

Dorms are not meant to be Pinterest-perfect rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and draped canopies over beds. Dorms are places to eat, sleep and study as you try to to pass that 8 a.m. personal finance class.

The majority of the decorations and storage you purchase for your dorm will either be donated or tossed in the next couple of years. Spending a ton of money on a twin-XL comforter is not cost effective when twin-XL beds only exist in dorms.

Additionally, college decorations have a habit of disappearing every time you pack up for the year. Instead, invest in a few decorations like these, which will make your room feel like home without breaking your budget.

7. Wait to Order Your Textbooks

While you may initially think you should buy all your textbooks from the bookstore as soon as you get the list, wait until after the first few days of class before you go stand in that massive line outside the campus bookstore.  

By postponing your textbook purchase, you’ll find out if you need the latest edition or could get by with an older version, if you can buy a less-expensive version from a book-trading website or if you can just borrow the book from a friend who has already taken the class.

8. Don’t Go Out All the Time

College is a great opportunity to meet new people and try new things, but mix some of those expensive nights out at the Tourist Spot in Nearest Big City with an inexpensive game, crafting, or movie nights on campus or a fun workout in the park.

There are always free events on college campuses, so check the bulletin board and ask your resident assistant.

If you do find yourself with some extra cash to splurge on a fun activity, check Groupon or your town calendar to find the best deals in the area.

Haley Gonzalez (@haleykgonzalez) is an editorial assistant at The Penny Hoarder.

The benefits of working out are obvious: staying healthy, losing weight, gaining muscle, possibly making new friends who also enjoy that particular brand of torture.

However, for me, the actual process of going to a gym to lift things and get yelled at by a muscular sweaty person is not exactly appealing.

And the only thing worse than working out is paying to work out.

Hate the Gym? Try These 9 Budget-Friendly Ways to Exercise

Instead of spending your hard-earned dollar bills, try these nine workouts that don’t cost much at all.

1. For Those Who Want to Fly...

Running, the bane of a clumsy person’s existence, is a great, free way to work out.

[caption id="attachment_56150" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] TPH Editor Caitlin Constantine runs in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

It’s an aerobic workout, which means it works your cardiovascular and respiratory systems (aka it gets your blood pumping and your lungs working). It also helps tone your muscles and reduce that extra stuffing on your body from winter hibernation.

Required materials: One pair of good running shoes, some lightweight clothes and a lot of motivation

2. For Those Who Enjoy the View...

Walking is a great workout because the workout only lasts as long as you like and burns a fair amount of calories.

It can be done in the heat without causing you to melt or in the cold with a pullover. You can even do it with your dog, cat or any other “leashable” animal. (Please don’t put leashes on your kids or significant others.)

Required materials: One pair of comfy shoes, a scenic area and a great playlist

3. For Those Who Need Control…

Pilates is a workout that combines yoga and strength training. You will need good mind and body control to maintain your pose and not lose your balance.

It can be done alone in your home on a mat or towel, with only the company of a free YouTube instructor.

Be patient or you may end up throwing your computer when you can’t get that bicycle move down.

Required materials: One Pilates workout video, a quiet area and some stretchy pants

4. For Those Who are Ballerinas at Heart…

Although I took ballet classes as a child, I now have the balance and grace of a hippo. However, if you’re set and determined to embrace your inner grace, barre is the workout for you.

Barre involves a series of ballet moves to build muscles and balance. You will need a barre (hence the name), but you can also use a chair, couch or any other tall, sturdy object to hold on to while you perform the moves.

If you need some guidance, you’ll find tons of free YouTube tutorials.

Required materials: A tall, sturdy object, some awesome leggings and one childhood dream

5. For Those Who Need an Escape…

Yoga is not just sleeping on a mat in corpse pose or bending yourself into pretzel shapes; it’s an awesome exercise for those who are looking to become more flexible and gain more peace of mind.

[caption id="attachment_56151" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] TPH Editor Caitlin Constantine practices yoga in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Yoga is typically taught by an instructor with a calming voice, telling you to think about the sound of waves while stretching yourself up to the sun, so yoga is great for those looking to get out of their heads and take a mini mind vacation to the tropics.

We also have a guide to becoming a yogi -- for free.

Required materials: YouTube yoga instructor, a clear mind and an (optional) nature soundtrack

6. For Those Who Want to Be the Hulk...

Hulk has the ability to lift over 100 tons. The average human may never be able to achieve that feat, but it doesn’t hurt to dream.

If you want to build more muscle, tone what you have or are just feeling the urge to lift heavy things, you should try weights.

Although you could go straight to your community gym or build your own gym, you could also try household objects that give you the same satisfaction as weights -- with none of the cost. Examples include gallon water jugs, a stack of old textbooks or even your child (as long as you don’t drop them).

You’re going to want to make sure you don’t hurt yourself with this one, so use some YouTube guidance.

Required materials: Heavy objects, a towel to mop up sweat and a mirror to check your form

7. For Those Who Feel the Rhythm...

Zumba is a fast and fun workout if you love moving and grooving to the beat. Instructors often pair these moves with the top hits so you can sing along -- if you can manage to catch your breath.

If you’re looking for a more difficult dance workout, you can always add weights to amp up the difficulty. If you are looking for other dance workouts, check out hip-hop, ballroom and swing to get your heart pumping. The important part is that you move and have fun.

Required materials: A rowdy YouTube instructor, cool sneaks and a dash of self confidence

8. For Those Who Want to Be Mermaids (or Mermen)...

Swimming is the best option to get your fill of H20. You can do it in a lake, you can do it in a pool, you can do it in the sea, you can do it to stay cool.

[caption id="attachment_56152" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] TPH Editor Caitlin Constantine swims at North Shore Aquatic Complex in downtown St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Swimming is a great exercise because you use all your muscles to move yourself from one end of the pool to the other end.

If you live in a colder climate, it may only be a seasonal workout unless you have an indoor or heated pool nearby.

Required materials: Swimsuit, goggles, some water and your best pal Flounder

9. For Those Who are with the Resistance...

By resistance, I mean resistance in muscles and pressure -- not Star Wars (sorry, Leia).

Resistance training is any type of physical activity where you use your muscles against resistance. This workout includes activities such as crunches, pull-ups, push-ups, curl-ups and squats.

Working out targeted muscles is great if your goal is to build strength, flexibility and endurance. You are going to need that endurance if you want to stand against Darth Vader and the forces of evil.

Required materials: Focus, commitment and your own body weight (lightsaber optional)

Haley Gonzalez is an editorial intern at the Penny Hoarder. She hates working out more than Luke Skywalker hates his father.