It’s no secret: college is expensive. And it’s getting more expensive every year. And after Covid-19 brought so many of us indoors and away from others, you might find getting a summer job difficult or even unsafe.
So how can you save money for college if you know you’re going to need to pay your own way?
First, rest assured that you should be able to receive financial aid based on need, so you won’t need to save the entire cost of tuition.
However, you’ll want to save as much as you can to help lower your student debt and cover your living expenses while in college.
So, below are some creative ways to save money for college, starting as early as you can in high school.
Monetize your talents.
A creative (and fun) way to save money for college is to find a way to make extra cash by utilizing the talents you already have.
Think about what your talents are and how those talents might help others in a way that’s worth a payment.
If you’re talented in a specific academic subject, find out how you might be able to tutor other students, either in your grade or in grades below you.
Do you play an instrument? Start teaching music lessons in your spare time.
If you’re talented with technology and have something to say, you might even consider starting a YouTube channel and making monetization your goal.
Are you great with crafts and making things? Open an Etsy account and start selling your creations.
The opportunities are endless! Of course, make sure whatever you do doesn’t interfere with your schoolwork and is done through the proper channels, or it’ll defeat the purpose of your venture.
Then, put all the money you make in a savings account just for college so you aren’t tempted to spend it.
Save every $5 bill you get.
Though $5 might not seem like a lot of money, saving every $5 bill you get adds up over time. Each time you have a $5 bill in hand, put it in a box, and put the box away somewhere you won’t grab at it.
You might even cut a slit in a box large enough to get the money in, but not enough to get it out. That way, you won’t look at how much you have until it’s time to utilize the money for college.
You’d be surprised how much money you can save if you start this habit early. Even if it’s not enough for college tuition, the extra money could help cover some of your food, books, and living costs while in college.
Clean out your closet.
If you have a full closet, you might consider doing a bit of decluttering. There are plenty of websites devoted to helping people sell their used items like clothing, books, toys, and more.
Find clothes and other items you no longer use, and see if you can make any money by selling them online or to a thrift store. You might find that the things you no longer want or need are valuable to someone else.
As with any extra money you make, put this money aside specifically for your college funds.
Give up unnecessary spending habits.
Try tracking your spending for a week or so to find out what types of items and services you tend to spend your money on, especially unnecessarily. For example, if you eat out or order takeout a lot with friends, consider bringing your food for lunch and opting for cooking at home instead.
If you spend a good deal of money on video games, movies, or music, consider opting out of some of your streaming or music services and saving that money for college instead.
Each time you would spend money on a habit you don’t need anymore, put that money into your college savings account instead. For example, if you see a new item of clothing you want to buy online but don’t need, take the amount of money you would spend on it and put it in your savings account.
These small habits can add up over time, and you’ll be surprised how much money you can save.
Investing in the stock market can be risky, but if you know what you’re doing and have enough money to put into it, you might be able to utilize your investment strategy as a way to help you pay for college.
Make sure you do your research about how to invest responsibly in high school, and learn about the kinds of taxes you’ll have to pay on any money you take out once you want to pay for college.
However, you can learn how to invest from experts on social media or ask an adult you trust for help.
Start with community college.
Four-year colleges and universities are usually much more expensive than community colleges, and you can start at a community college for your first two years of college before transferring to a larger college or university.
Many students go to community college first to save money so they can attend the school of their dreams for the last two years of their undergraduate education.
This might not be the best option for you based on your specific goals, but if you can manage to wait two years while getting the most you can from community college, you might find that the money you save is worth the wait to attend a four-year institution.
Apply for scholarships.
Finally, the tried and true way to help pay for college is to apply for as many scholarships as you can.
Look for scholarships you can apply for at school, through your parents’ or guardians’ work, in your community, or through your prospective college. You can even apply for scholarships through various organizations completely outside of your community.
Take a look at sites like College Scholarships to find available scholarships in your area. Meanwhile, you can take a look at our long list of NSHSS scholarships to find one that suits your talents, interests, and abilities.
Applying for scholarships can feel tedious and take extra time, but every scholarship you’re able to get will help you pay for college. Like with each one of these tips, every dollar counts!