The average college graduate dealing with student loans pays about $150 a month. That doesn’t seem too outrageous, but it’s based on a 20 year term. That means over 40 million people in the United States are buckling up for two decades of kissing a decent chunk of their paycheck buh-bye each month.
Want to get some of it back? Your frugal College Self of Days Past can help!
These five popular dorm-room tactics will still fly in adult life if you play your cards right:
Potential Savings: $30 / Month (or more!)
Here’s some crappy news: the average cable bill is $75 a month, and that number is expected to rise about 5 percent every year.
The good news? These days, it’s pretty easy ditch your cable box and rely on streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime for you daily Scandal fix. Hell, with Netflix, you can binge for weeks on end while still only paying $9.99 a month.
If you can’t live without cable, there are some specific strategies for lowering your monthly cable bill without changing your service. Give ‘em a shot.
How You Save: Whether you cut your cord entirely or just renegotiate your current rate, it’s pretty easy to shave $30 or more off your monthly bill.
Potential Savings: $20 / Month
The hungry College You was probably down for free food of any kind. We’re not saying that you need to attend every event you see that comes with a free slice of pizza. That’s gross. But there is a way to tastefully get a free lunch or two each month: Just do a lot of favors.
Help a friend move, give people useful and detailed advice if they ask for it, or offer to take some work off of your co-workers plate if you notice they’re swamped. Then, when they make that lovely offer for free lunch to repay you…take it!
How You Save: A standard lunch these days costs about $10. If you can pull off two free lunches of a month, you’re looking at a decent chunk of cash saved.
Potential Savings: $10-20 / Month
The savvy college student always rented his or her textbooks instead of buying them. Who needs to shell out $200 for a book you were just going to skim the night before your exam?
Guess what? The rental party doesn’t need to stop! Public library cards are free, and a lot of libraries are building up a good stockpile of e-book and audio books for you to enjoy.
How You Save: If you’re a relatively avid reader, you probably go through a book or two a month. Depending on the format, that’ll run you at least $10, and potentially more if you’re a hardcover enthusiast. Add that money to the bank – renting books is free!
Potential Savings: $10 / Month
Ramen noodles has gotten a bad rep by being associated with hungry college kids who just need a few calories before the next kegger. But classy ramen does exist! For example, adding broth, an egg, leftover chicken or pork, and green onions to your noodles immediately boosts the taste of your ramen.
How You Save: Ramen noodles alone are very cheap (usually $.25 an ounce, or so). But the real savings come in the form of a quick, delicious meal that’s mostly made of leftovers or ingredients you already have at home, like eggs and green onions.
Tip: Ramen can be made to taste delicious, but they can’t really be turned into a healthy meal. So, we recommend practicing this money-saving tip in moderation.
Potential Savings: $25 / Month
You may associate cinder-block bedframes with college-era squalor, but don’t abandon this money-saving trick just yet. Cinder blocks can be stylish!
College You would have just laid down a few ugly gray blocks and called it a day. But Adult You can paint them a color that matches your bedroom décor and maybe even throw in accent colors for some extra pop. If done right, people with think it’s cool and crafty, not cheap.
How You Save: A decent bedframe costs $200-$300 (often a lot more.) Home Depot sells cinder blocks for $1.42 a piece, but you can also try putting up a Craigslist ad and usually find some people who will give them to you for free. If you land yourself a free or almost-free bedframe and spread that saved cash out over a year, it’ll come out to at least $25 a month.