Thank you Navient for sponsoring this post.
As a college senior (wow – still weird to say that!) life after graduation has been on my mind a lot lately.
My time has slowly been transitioning from focusing on homework and course requirements to boosting my resume and hunting for internships. Lately, every time I’m shopping for clothes the first thing in my mind is “can I wear this to work?” since I now work in a business-casual office setting, and less “can I wear this to the beach?”
One of the big things that I will have to deal with more after I graduate is my student loans.
While I worked really hard to get the majority of my college funded through scholarships, I did have to face the tough decision and end up taking out some student loans. Taking out these student loans allowed me to live on campus for my first 3 years of college, which opened an incredible amount of doors and really shaped my college experience.
For me, living on campus was a must. I had been designing my dream dorm room in my head since middle school, and the thought of going through college without dealing with the cliché roommate struggles and college experiences that living on campus provided was heartbreaking to me. So, while owing money is definitely not fun, deciding to take out my student loans was the best choice for me.
If I hadn’t taken out these loans, I would not be who I am today. I’ve shared with you previously about how I was struggling when I started college until I created my own place where I belonged – and that may not have happened if I hadn’t lived on campus.
On my first day of classes, my first year of college, I started this blog. I started it to share my life in college and to find a place to become creatively fulfilled while living on campus. Through this blog I discovered that I love social media marketing and I improved my writing – both of which have led to amazing opportunities including helping to guide my future career path toward social media marketing. I may have never known that I love social media marketing!
This blog has also become a great source of income for me, as my side hustle, and a significant amount of the money that I make through this blog (including through this sponsored post!) is going to go to helping me pay back my student loans. Talk about a full circle!
I know my passion, I’ve found my friends, I feel creatively fulfilled, I have a great internship, I’ll soon have an incredible degree, and I’m optimistic about my future, all because of the college experience I have had.
Are you working on saving money to pay off your student loans? Here’s what I’m doing right now to make it easier on myself post-graduation:
1. Take Advantage of Free Things
As a college student (especially as a Freshman!) there are free things around you everywhere. Free entertainment in school dances, sports games, club meetings, gym memberships, and socials. Free food at RA events, multicultural events, and religious get-togethers. Free t-shirts at orientation, back to school bashes, and sporting events. Just get up and go!
That ID they hand you on the first day? It does more than get you into your dorm and slide to pay for your meal plan. Student discounts are everywhere. From Spotify, movie theaters, clothing stores, Amazon Prime, and everything in between – always check to see if there is a student discount before you pay full price for anything!
Does your roommate have a car – or do you have a car and your roommate is always bugging you for a ride? Carpool! Pitch in for gas (or ask your roomie to) and save some cash.
4. Meal Prepping
Don’t have a meal plan? Meal prepping is not only time effective – it is cost effective as well! Save your money and your time by getting excited over a new healthy recipe to meal prep for your lunches or dinners (or both!) each week.
5. Start a Side Hustle
Side hustling (AKA having more than one job, or having one not so traditional job in addition to your main job) is a great way to rake in some extra money. Babysitting, freelancing, website design, blogging, and pet-sitting are all great side hustle examples.
My side hustles? Freelance social media management, blogging, and stage managing! Every cent from the first one goes straight into my savings, while 50% of the last two side hustles go into my savings as well.
To some people, budgeting means tracking a spreadsheet of every single thing you spend your money on (I’m looking at you – Dad!) but if that overwhelms you, there are simpler ways to budget.
Know what you have – and spend below it when possible. I went out to lunch with a couple of old friends from middle school to catch up the other day, and this concept seemed to blow their minds. I was talking about how I love when I put avocado and extra cheese on my macaroni and cheese at that restaurant we were at, but I mentioned how I didn’t that day. They asked me why, and I told them it wasn’t worth the extra $3 right now and that I have better places to put that cash. I started getting weird looks and even got a response of a sarcastic “wow – why would you do that? Saving to buy a house or something?” As a matter of fact – I am. At the end of the meal I felt better when my check came and I knew what it was going to be right away, because I was keeping track of my expenses.
Keeping an eye on what you’re buying, learning to say “no” to extra spending, and limiting going out to eat are all great ways to budget easily!
How do you save money as a college student?
Thank you again to Navient for sponsoring this post. All content and opinions expressed here are all my own.