The first semester of college has flown by and young freshman are probably beginning to run low on funds. As fall break approaches, Couponbox has rounded up the best ways to tighten those purse strings and make sure you won’t be going hungry before the semester is over.

1. Go for a mid-semester visit home

If you’re studying in the same state as where your parents live, now would be a good time to schedule in a tactical trip home. Drop in on the grandparents for bonus pocket money and help generous Aunt Elsie with her grocery shopping and you may find your wallet is slightly bulkier than when you first arrived.

This will also be a good opportunity to save money on partying and get a good load of washing done too!

2. Get your coupons in order

The longer you lock-in savings, the bigger the benefits. So, if a yearly travel pass means cheaper fares than if you pay per semester, it makes sense to grab the annual option asap instead of waiting until fall break

Another tip is to check out all the discounts you can get on your student card. Many department stores will cater for student discounts and you can save loads of money on every day items too.

3. Invest in a bicycle

Many college towns are easy to get around by bike. This will save you loads of money on transport costs and is great for the environment too. If you haven’t already, invest in a sturdy bike to get you around and save you money in the long run.

4. Beware the binge

The paradox of your first semester is that it can hard on your finances. Making friends is expensive, and with parties and dinners to go to it’s easy to lose track of your money. As well as settling into college life and kitting yourself out with essentials, the full party circuit can easily set you back financially.

To avoid this, be realistic about how much cash you will spend and budget in advance. Get into the habit of cooking for yourself and frineds at home – this will save you loads of money in the long run. Watch out for the takeaway trap, i.e., always eating out or getting grub delivered after a night out. Once it’s more than an occasional treat it starts getting pricey. When you do treat yourself, make sure you use the best takeaway deals.

5. Learn how to budget

Here are a few tips on how to plan your spending:

  • Take a look at how much cash you’ll have coming in (and when), and give yourself a weekly budget. Top ‘n’ tail it so you’ll have more to play with at the start and end of term, when you’ll likely have more costs to cover.
  • If you struggle to stick to limits, put your cards away and carry cash during nights out. When you’ve spent it all, it’s time to head home!
  • Keep a note of how much you spend every day, even if it sounds scary – it makes it easier to stay on track or to take action if you bungle your budget. There are free apps to show you where you are spending the bulk of your money and where you are saving the most.

Your first semester (like the rest of college life) is what you make of it. Throw yourself into it and you too, just like Asher Roth, will love college. Enjoy the ride!

This post was written in collaboration with Save the Student