Before you know it, the semester will be over and summer will be upon you. If you’re looking forward to a listless summer of binge watching Netflix, think again. If you’re borrowing to pay for school, you absolutely cannot afford to slack off in your coming free months. Every summer day that you idle away now could be used to reduce your student loans or college costs and improve your long-term financial well being.
Here are five ideas for your summer to seriously consider trying in concert or individually…
#1 Take classes at community college
Community college courses are cheap and if you’re still working on your core courses or are missing a PE or other general credit class, knocking it out over the summer is wise. Be sure that your college will accept the community college credit before you enroll so you don’t waste your time and money. The best approach is to look for a community college in the same university system as yours.
#2 Get experience in your field
If you’re not sure about your major, trying out a job in that field can give you some insight into whether it’s the best career for you. If you are sure, working an internship or entry-level job in your field over summers and breaks can give you a leg up when it comes to the post-graduation job search. Employers prefer those with experience in the field and this can mean the difference between finding a job or not.
#3 Get a good paying job
If you’re not ready to try out a job in your field – or can’t find one – getting a gig that pays the most money possible can help you take a dent out of your costs for the Fall semester. Making as much as you can will help you reduce or avoid borrowing in the upcoming semester. The less you borrow now, the less you’ll pay back later and the better your post-college life will be.
#4 Don’t spend money
It’s easy to slip into bad spending habits in the summer. Beach vacations, road trips, beer, movies and hanging out with your friends can quickly eat up any money you’ve saved or are earning. This isn’t smart. Instead, bunk with family, skip the trips and focus on making – not spending – your money. Hang out with your friends at home, stick to Redbox instead of the movie theater and save, save, save!
#5 Strategize to reduce your schooling costs
It can be hard to think about your finances when you’re neck deep in your studies, but summer is a perfect time to look back at how much you spent last year while in school, how much you borrowed and develop a plan for doing better in the coming semesters. This can be the time you look for off-campus housing and roommates to save money, make a plan to work part-time to cover some of your costs, share textbooks with friends and other cost-cutting strategies.
If you’re already borrowing to pay for school, be sure to sign up for Tuition.io’s free student loan tool. With this, you’ll always know how much debt you’ve amassed, how much interest is building up and can see the effects of making interest or principal payments while in school to decrease the debt you’ll have to deal with when you graduate. And be sure to read our blog often for more money saving ideas.