Turn Friday night pizza into student debt freedom: Five tips for saving money and investing in your future

During your first few weeks of college, the next four years seem to stretch before you like a never-ending road. But before you know it, a semester has passed. Then, an entire school year.  Suddenly you find yourself halfway through your college career and about $14,000 in student debt. Yikes! At this rate, your post-grad years will be filled with student loan payments, refinancing and pinching pennies until they squeal.

Believe it or not, there’s another way to approach paying off student debt. And it all starts now, while you’re still in college. Here are five easy ways to help you minimize your debt load after graduation:

  1. Include savings in your monthly budget. When you sit down to budget your monthly income, don’t forget to channel some of those funds into savings. Take what you need to cover everyday expenses, then put the rest toward paying off your student loans. If your employer uses a direct deposit service, you can even have a portion of your paycheck deposited into a savings account.


  1. Cut unnecessary expenses. Do you really need that tall iced caramel macchiato from Starbucks twice a week? Or what about that expensive gym membership? Jot down your monthly expenses and then look for things to cut. Watching what you spend may motivate you to satisfy your everyday needs more creatively. For example, you could make your own iced coffee using a personal coffeemaker in your dorm room or you could get your workout in for free by using the equipment at the student center.


  1. Turn Friday night pizza into a student loan payment. Once you’ve identified some of those unnecessary expenses, re-direct that money to something worthwhile. For instance, what would happen if you used your weekly pizza money to make a payment on your student loans? Saving just $20 every month adds up to $240 a year. Multiply that by the four years you are in college and you’ve paid off nearly $1,000 in student loans. It might not seem like much, but when it comes to paying off student debt, every penny counts.


  1. Become a change collector. Got spare change from doing your laundry or buying a magazine from the college bookstore? Keep those nickels and dimes in a jar and cash them in at the bank when the jar is full. You may be surprised to learn how much that extra change adds up. But don’t let that stack of cash charm you into bad spending – be sure to deposit your savings and use the money to make a loan payment.


  1. Host a mini rummage sale. Money may not grow on trees, but it could grow in your closet. Take advantage of the dog days of summer to go through old clothes, books and knick-knacks and set aside the items you no longer need or use. Then, invite some friends over for a mini rummage sale in your bedroom! Your friends get to buy that shirt or skateboard they’ve been drooling over for years and you get to score some extra cash for your college savings – sounds like a win-win situation all the way around.