Do you want to graduate from college debt free? Is it even possible to graduate from college debt free?

The answer is yes. Today I’m going to show you guys how you can graduate from college debt free. I also want you to know that this isn’t some hypothetical post or a “what if?” situation. This is my story of how I managed to graduate from college without any debt. As of two days ago I paid off the last $326.41 that I owed my school. I will write my final exam this Saturday morning. I will officially graduate from college debt free.

This isn’t ground breaking advice. The following will be common sense tips that anyone can apply. If a dude with spiked hair can do it, so can you.

Always hold a job.

You need to have money coming in. It doesn’t matter how much money you earn per hour or how much you make a week, what counts is that you have some sort of income coming in. I personally feel that so many college students fall behind financially because they don’t have an income coming in. With no money coming in this means that you’re going to have to rely on debt (student loans or your credit card) to pay for everyday expenses.

You can’t find a job? Consider one of the following options:

  1. Find work around campus. There are many jobs that pay well around the college campus. I made some decent money by working as an Exam Invigilator (watch people write exams) for the school.
  2. Start a side business. Whether you want start a personal finance blog (me) or become a textbook broker, college can be the best time for you to start a sidebusiness. Plus you really have nothing to lose.
  3. Find a job in service industry. You won’t always find the job that you want. You’re going to have to get your hands dirty. There’s nothing wrong with this. Working in the service industry can be a great college experience.

Save your money!

You need to save your money. I’m not talking about thousands of dollars. Even if you save $20 a week, you’ll have $1,000 in your bank account at the end of the year. That thousand bucks is much better than nothing, or an account in the negatives. A few of the ways I saved some major coin in college are:

  • Living at home. I know that this sucks but it’s manageable. Thankfully, my parents gave me the basement so that I could still have friends over. Living at home can save you thousands of dollars a year on rent, utilities, and food.
  • Ask for discounts. My friends from school always think I’m joking around when I ask for the “student discount” whenever we go out. It actually works. Most places do offer a student discount. I was able to save 15% off dinner the other day just because I asked for the discount.
  • Save money on textbooks. There are many ways you could save money on textbooks. I would either share my books or buy them used. I rarely purchased new textbooks unless I absolutely had to.

Manage your time.

We all have the same 24 hours in any given day, you need to get the most out of yours. I’m by far no time management expert nor can I claim to posses the multi-tasking abilities of Tim Ferriss. I have just been able to use some of my time wisely. Not all of it but some. My favorite time management tips are:

  1. Work now, relax later. The reverse never works. Get your work done first. Actually do the work you hate the most first. Once you’re done your work you can relax.
  2. Focus on what’s important. Don’t stress about that 5% assignment or updating your Facebook feed. Do your important work.
  3. Shut out distractions. Distractions are fun. Being up all night because you were distracted in the evening is NOT fun. Turn your distractions off until your work gets done.

Ignore the BS.

There are many distractions out there. I’ve been affected by all of them. From drinking into the early hours of the morning, to gym addictions, all the way to staying on Facebook instead of finishing your term assignment. These distractions will get to you. The trick is to not let either ruin your situation. Ignore all of the negativity out there and just enjoy life.

Party on the cheap.

You obviously need to party in college. I’m tired of personal finance blogs telling you not to party. I would’ve lost my mind a long time ago if I never went out. Going out is a staple of college life. Unfortunately, partying in college can cause lots of problems for some people. When I mention partying in college I stress that you SHOULD NOT use your time in college as an excuse to binge drink or engage in drug use. Partying in college is fun when you go out with your close friends for drinks on the weekend. Don’t let having a good time with your friends ruin your finances or academic life.

Random thoughts.

My last piece of advice is to apply for every form of free money out there. Apply for all scholarships, grants, and bursaries. You never know when you’ll get a few hundred bucks for free.

I wish all of you guys nothing but the best! I’m curious to hear how have you guys managed to save money in college?

[Quick note: We’ll resume with the obtaining a mortgage series once again next week. Stay tuned!]

(photo credit: billaday)