Here are 100 Money saving tips for student sin USA. Let’s talk about saving money, personal finance and money management in USA. Money management skills are not taught in schools. You will have to pick-up money management skills quick and fast to avoid getting into debt.
This blog post will give an overview about
- how to handle your transactions
- how to save money
- how to avoid credit card traps
- how to effectively manage your personal finance (and life)
Planning and Budget
- Track every penny you spend (I use mint.com)
- Make a budget and stick to it.
- Monthly expenses will increase gradually after coming to USA
- Open Online Savings Account to deposit money over $2000.
- Most Checking account doesn’t pay interest.
- Savings account offered by traditional banks give less than .25% interest.
- Don’t buy things you cannot afford ( Need vs Want)
- Always looks for deals before buy any product and shop online.
- Before placing order, find additional coupon code.
- Find a job and apply for SSN.
Credit cards and Credit History
- Apply for Credit Card as soon you you get SSN.
- American Express Blue for Students, Citi Student Cards are good place to start.
- Don’t apply for multiple cards. One card should be enough to get started.
- Use the credit card to make day to day purchases.
- Use your card only if you have money in the Checkings account.
- Pay your entire card balance in every month.
- Using credit cards builds your credit history.
- Good credit history = high credit score
- High credit score= low loan interest rates in future
- You will get likely to apply for a loan to buy a car once you get the job
- Plus Good Credit history = low (or no) security deposit (apartments, utilities,..)
- It’s not a good idea to carry balance in credit cards.
- Understand how credit card payment and interest rates are calculated.
- Don’t play balance transfer games
- Don’t apply for credit cards because you get $100 or free t-shirt or free coffee mug
- FICO credit score ranges between 300 to 850
- Good Score : 680+; Excellent Credit Score = 740+
- It takes time to build credit score along with credit history
- Credit score is determined by
- how you pay the bills
- credit to debit ratio (credit limit to your balance)
- length of credit history
- types of credit accounts (credit card, car loan, mortgage, utilities)
- Credit scores are reported by 3 credit bureaus
- Trans Union
- Don’t mess with credit cards and credit history
- Again : Don’t play games with credit card offers (balance transfer)
- Understand how credit scoring system works.
- Spending time to learn about credit score will save you lot of money in long run.
- Don’t apply for too many credit cards for zero percentage APR or balance transfer.
- Create a spreadsheet using Google docs and share among roommates.
- Clearly define a cycle on who is going to pay for expense in what order
- It’s good to have atleast one account in your name (power, gas, internet, tv, ..)
- Your First month expense in USA will be high
- Make a list of MUST have items and get help from seniors
- Don’t open multiple Checking account. ( I Opened 4 Checking Account )
- Open one account that has ATM near your campus.
- Try to use online transfer (check books are expensive and save paper)
- Sign-up for paperless statements (Go Green and Save paper)
- Frequently check your bank balances and recent activities
- Referring customers will get you $25 to $50 (try to refer new students)
- Open ONLY free checking account
- Free Checking account will not pay any interest.
- If there is nearby credit union, check if they have interest paying account.
- Right now you can get 0.75% to 1.0% interest in some account types.
Shopping and Deals
- If you paying online, make sure webpage is secure (https vs http)
- Always try to buy electronics items online
- Looks for cashback, coupon codes and deals
- You can always find coupons and deals for the product you plan to buy.
- If you don’t find a deal, keep looking for deals.
- Amazon Student has many deals (Amazon Prime is free for 1 year with student id)
- Have a list before going for shopping.
- Don’t go for shopping when you are hungry.
- Cigarettes, alcohols are expensive and not good for health( I know you may not agree)
- Get books from seniors (or buy used books or lower edition)
- Compare grocery prices in nearby stores
- Get Sams, Costco or BJ’c membership
- Usually Membership comes with 2 cards (share with 2 households)
- Save lot of money by shopping in Farmers Market
- Find coupons for grocery shopping (newspaper, weekly newsletter)
- Coupons combined with weekly sales = SAVINGS!
- Join rewards program in local chain store
- Cook at home daily. (Cooking Tips for Indian Students )
- Take seniors with your for first few trip to grocery store.
- Don’t try to save on essential food items.
- Use Unit price to compare prices.
- Local store will do price match
- Make a list and track the prices.
- Some items will have lower prices during certain times of the day.
- Look for quick sale rack for close out items.
- Unplug chargers, unused electrical items from power outlet. Save 5% of your electric bill.
- Switch off Lights and Fans when room is not used
- Maintain comfortable temperature to save on Power and Gas
- Ask for deals on Internet, Phone and Cable TV
- Look for services you don’t use in the bill and remove them.
- Beware of free service offers or programs
- Always read the fine print before you sing-up for any service.
- If you making big ticket purchase, know the return/refund policy.
- Buy clothes/dress ONLY during sale.
- Pay more to get better quality items, than cheap items for less (lasts longer)
- Try to use library (school and community)
- Don’t get caught downloading movies, songs and software.
- Don’t try to save money by not taking Health Insurance coverage.
- If you are sick go to hospital. Don’t try to save money by not going to hospital.
- University campus will have a medical clinic.
- Membership club will have samples to taste. Try it before buying new items.
- Working outside campus is illegal while in F1 Visa
- Earning money through business or from quixtar is violation of your status.
- Always there will be an alternate brand with lower prices.
- Don’t use same username and password for all websites.
- Have 2 to 3 sets of usernames and passwords.
- I use LastPass to save my passwords.
- Don’t carry SSN card with you.
- Don’t waste hours of time to save few cents looking for deals.
- Use your common sense approach towards money, personal finance.
For new students and others visiting USA for the first time, life will look overwhelming.
These 100 money saving tips for students (and others) should set you on the right track.
When you are not sure about anything ask for help.
Sometimes small mistakes can be expensive. If you have additional tips, please share it with us in the comment below.
Income, Expenses and Savings – Series
- Part 1 – How much money can you save in USA
- Part 2 – Why Saving Money in USA is Difficult with Q&A
- Part 3 – Here’s Why you can’t Save Money in First 5 Years in USA
- Part 4 – 5 Tips to Save Ton of Money in USA
- Part 5 – 100 Money Saving Tips for Students >> This Article