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With an entire array of incidental and educational expenses, college can be an expensive proposition where you have to watch every rupee you spend. Here are 8 ways to enjoy college life without burning a hole in your pocket. By Anusha Surendran

College is another world altogether: where waking up late is a luxury, studying includes lab coats and internals and breaks are peppered with assignments. But college also means more time with friends, yelling in cinema theatres, pizzas and junk food! To achieve the fun-study balance it is inevitable to pull the purse strings. After all, the allowance is not going to last forever! Here are a few ways to save that extra buck.

1. Study Economical:
A major slice of expenses revolve around tuition fees and study material. Brand new textbooks can cost a lot. If anyone in the family or friend circle has taken the same course in the previous batch, you can borrow the books and return them once you graduate. Second hand bookstores help out students of professional courses by providing expensive textbooks at affordable costs. You can always donate the books after you finish your course! You can also hunt for deals and discounts at online bookstores. As for paying your way through college, look out for scholarships and grants that will make paying tuition fee easier.

2. Travel Smart:
Bike pooling and car pooling are feasible alternatives while travelling to college. Opt for buses and other modes of public transport which will help save fuel costs. Take advantage of perks such as reduced charges for railway tickets, bus passes. If your college has its own fleet of buses, consider taking it if the monthly bus fee works out cheaper than public transport.

3. Spend Less:
As far as adages go, and as mundane and ‘un-fun’ as this one sounds, it is the best! Always know how much to spend and work out budgets well within your means. As students you can cut down on eating out or on shopping to have enough in hand for the next month. “Pinching every penny in college in inevitable. I try to limit my expenses whenever I go out with friends. We try to take buses instead of autos. While going on that mall trip, we attempt to stick to window shopping!” states Kavya, a first year commerce student.

4. Buddy Share:
It is only fair that the cake gets to be shared! When you are looking into ways to cut down on expenses always bear in mind that it is essential to share while having fun as a group. Splitting the transport costs or going Dutch at restaurants are easy methods to curb costs. If you are not staying in college hostels or dorms, room up in a house with friends with whom you can share the rent and overheads.

5. Track Special Offers:
Take notes from Rebecca Bloomwood from Confessions of a Shopaholic! Always keep an eye out for sales and combo offers. Big brands come out with pocket-friendly offers and grabbing them will definitely add an extra thrill to your shopping experience. While lunching out make sure to cash in on combo offers that are specifically targeted at students. Eating out these days has become an easy affair with lots of premium restaurants opening their gates to students with pocket-friendly fare. So you can now have pizzas, burgers or gourmet meals at throwaway prices. Look out for affordable call plans for your cell phone. Many mobile companies announce special offer for students from time to time. Grab those and save a substantial amount on your phone bills.

6. Get a Part Time Job:
A part-time job will help you save a lot of money which you can then think of reinvesting in alternatives of your choice. Be it working at a local food joint or doing freelance work of your interest, the extra buck will save a lot of last-minute tensions. “Since college gets over at 1 pm everyday, I work at the local library for a few hours. Not only does it give me extra cash but I am able to get some experience in a field that I am interested in,” says second year humanities student R. Akshaya. With unconventional careers being the norm nowadays, there is a limitless range of freelance and part-time jobs to choose from. If you are good at coming up with unique ideas and translating them into write ups then you could start writing for publications; if you have a way with words you could consider copywriting for an ad agency; if you have an eye for spotting mistakes, proofreading could be right up your alley. An artistic bent of mind can help you get work in the designing industry.

7. Bank on banks:
College is the right time to open a bank account and take the next step to being independent. “My father made sure that I opened a savings account after my first year in college. Since I have to maintain a minimum balance, I started making sure I had money in the account,” says Aishwarya. Savings accounts with zero balance are also available as per needs of the account-holder. A customised savings account will keep your finances on track and will also help in taking stock of cash in hand.

8. Be aware:
Most importantly, be aware of your expenses. Keep a log of all costs per month and see to it that you don’t exceed your personal limits. Keep some money aside for a rainy day. Also, be careful before you swipe your add on credit card. Plastic is the easiest way to work up a debt and clearing it becomes a headache which you can ill afford.
College can prove to be a life-changing experience if you are able to make the most of the limited means. And for that keep an eye on the bank balance! After all, a penny saved is a penny gained.

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