Roth vs Traditional IRA for Young AdultsIf you are like I was in college, opening u a card from your parents and finding a $10 bill in it was like hitting the jackpot. Any money that I received was appreciated. During my four years away in college I used a couple of tricks to save money and I am now passing them on to you.

Money Saving Trick 1: Avoid the ATM

I went to college on the opposite end of the state where I grew up. This, along with the fact that I was using a local community bank for my checking and savings accounts meant that I didn’t have access to any of my banks ATM machines. As we all know, this means fees. There were two ATM’s close by, one on campus and one down the street. Both charged me $2.50 for using their ATM. My bank was gracious enough to add their own $0.50 fee for using an out-of-network ATM. If were to take out $20, I was looking at a fee of 15%! Even if I doubled that to a $40 withdrawal, my fee was still 7.5%. I refused to pay this fee.

After looking through the fine print of what my bank charges me fees for, I came to a revelation. I went to the drugstore on the corner and bought a pack of gum as a test. I swiped my debit card and chose to use it as debit instead of credit. I then entered my PIN and it asked me if I wanted cash back. I said yes and took $20. Fee avoided. Granted in this test case, the fee was the $0.89 I spent on a pack of gum. But I made sure to think ahead so that when I was at the drugstore buying something, I would use my card as debit to get cash back.

Money Saving Trick 2: Take Advantage of Campus Activities

99% of the time, activities that the school puts on for you are free of charge, so be sure to take advantage of them. If you go to a larger school, there are most likely many more opportunities for this. But even small schools have free events as well. I went to a very small (around 2,500 students) college and they had a lot of events for us. Usually once in the Fall and again in the Spring the college would host a “battle of the bands” and local bands would come and play. It was a great free event.

Being near Canada, during my Sophomore year, my college took a group of students to Toronto – for free. While you were there you had to use your own money for food and shopping, but we hardly spent anything – we just walked around the city all day.
Be sure to check out the flyers that get posted all over campus to stay on top of all of the events that are going on. Chances are you will find something to enjoy for free.

Final Thoughts

These two tricks probably saved me the most money in college. When I think back at how many times I was in the need of cash and hit up the drugstore as my ATM, I have to laugh. I would easily say I saved myself around $400 in ATM fees by going this route. As for the free events, I just know that I had a great time when I went. I’m not sure how much money it really saved me – or even saved me from getting into situations that I would have regretted later.

Readers, what are some tricks you used to save money in college?