When you start college there’s one thing that’s almost certain: a crushing amount of student loan debt. Unless you come from a rich family, you landed a huge scholarship, or you saved every dollar you’ve ever made, college is going to hit you right where it hurts. While it may be tempting to open a credit card, you’ll want to think twice. You’re already getting in deep with student loan debt; there’s no need to make it worse. Here are a few ways you can survive college without getting into any credit card debt.
Get a Job
There’s no way around it. You’re going to have to get a job. It’s not going to be any fun, the hours will terrible, and it’s going to make finding the time to study next to impossible, but you’re going to have to do it. To get the most money out of your part-time gig, work at a popular local restaurant. This way you’ll be able to earn tips rather than limiting yourself to minimum wage. Some shifts will be bigger money-makers than others, but overall it’ll be a better job than fast food.
Rent Your Textbooks
Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on new textbooks that will be worth pennies once the semester is over, consider renting your textbooks. Sites such as Chegg offer textbooks for pretty much any course you can think of. All you have to do is get your syllabus, put in your course number, and grab your books. Whether you’re taking a course online or at a school like the University of the Potomac, renting your textbook is always the way to go.
Get a Few Roommates
As wonderful as living off campus sounds, you’re likely going to find the best rates by staying on campus and getting roommates. The bills will come in, and they’ll come in quick, so it’ll be nice to split expenses multiple ways. By having roommates, you’ll free up a bit of extra money that you wouldn’t have if you had lived on your own. Just make sure to set some ground rules to make sure you all get along and don’t end up wanting to punch each other in the mouth.
Buy a Bike
You won’t need a car to get to class since you’ll be living on campus. Hopefully you’re either working on campus or at a place nearby so you can bike there. Riding a bike will save you a ton of money during your college days. You won’t have to worry about gas, and any maintenance costs will pale in comparison to the cost of fixing a car. As a bonus, riding a bike is infinitely healthier than just taking a car.
Apply for Scholarships
Applying for scholarships is one of the best things you can do to minimize college debt. Don’t just apply to one and hope; apply for anything and everything that you’re eligible to get. Remember, you don’t have to pay a scholarship back. If your grades are a little less than stellar, ask for letters of recommendations from your professors. If you’re able to earn a scholarship, it will be a huge load of stress off your back.
Sell Your Possessions
As much as you don’t want to, it’s time to sell all the collectibles you’ve acquired over the years. Get rid of games, toys, books, and whatever else you have lying around that you aren’t using. Rather than have a huge yard sale, consider selling it online via eBay or Craigslist so you get a decent amount of money for them. Once you’re more financially stable you can always get all the items back, but for now, it’s all got to go.
It’s extremely difficult to survive in college without a credit card, but it’s possible. Don’t even consider getting a credit card, even if it’s just for one item. One item quickly becomes two; two becomes eight and a dinner; and it just snowballs from there. Use these tips, make a budget, and you’ll be fine. College will be several financially rough years, but you’ll be way better off than your classmates when you graduate completely free of credit card debt. Do you have any other tips for surviving college without a credit card? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Image by Brett L.