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One of the toughest challenges facing college students is paying for college expenses.  Many Latinas work part time or full time to pay for tuition and living costs. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, we all have the same struggles with educational finances.  I know paying for my living expenses during undergrad and law school was always a concern for me. Currently, the average debt of a college graduate is $28,400  Eek! Until college tuition becomes free or cheaper (as proposed by Hillary Clinton’s newest education plan), here are some tips for the educated Latina to live comfortably on a student budget:

Create a Budget With Must-Haves

It seems obvious but creating a budget with only your must-haves is essential to living on a small or no income (only living on school loans, etc.).  Make a list of all the items that are essential to survival: utilities, food, rent, etc. Items such as a mani/pedis and clothes, while they may seem important and are nice to have, are not integral to your survival. Therefore, removing some of these nice-to-have items from your list will make college living affordable and manageable. 

Cut Down Your Bills

So you’ve narrowed down your budget to your must-have items necessary to survive, but there are still ways to save on these essentials by cutting certain bills. For instance, rent is probably one of your biggest monthly expenses. Living with a roommate or finding alternative housing options such as graduate student housing will help save on monthly costs. Other ways to cut down bills is getting rid of cable or downgrading expensive cell phone data packages.

Find Alternative Options to Your Expenses

Can’t make it through the day without a cup of coffee? Instead of spending $5 each day for your daily fix of Starbucks, try making your coffee at home or drinking the free coffee at school or work. The same can be applied to lunch — make and bring your lunch each day instead of eating out. Finding alternative options to your daily expenses can save you significantly each month. 

Take Advantage of Student Discounts and Freebies

Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, either way you are considered a student.There are numerous places that offer student discounts on food, services, and more.  There are also many events and activities, such as concerts and festivals, that are free to students, so you can experience new things without the expense.

Become a Coupon App Queen

For all the essentials you can’t get for free, use coupon apps to help make these purchases.  Apps such as Groupon, RetailMeNot, and Shopular are great ways to find the best savings in your area. You can receive discounts on clothes, shoes, restaurants, local activities, and more! 

Search for Promo Codes

So what if you can’t find a coupon app to help lower the price? Don’t pull the trigger yet to buy something at full price! Search for promo codes to help with savings on many of your favorite stores and activities. Even ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft have promo codes for discount rides.

Some Web sites also offer discount promo codes when you leave items in your shopping cart after a few hours or days. It’s a way to entice customers to complete their purchase. So hold off for a bit as it can pay to wait!

Student Tax Credits

While typically taxes are not a fun subject to discuss, the IRS offers certain tax benefits for undergraduate and graduate students alike. Students can qualify for credits to reduce the amount of yearly tax they have to pay as well as deductions on the amount of their income is subject to tax. Yes, tax day comes once a year, but you can definitely save money if you remember to take advantage of these tax options.

There are numerous ways for an educated Latina to survive on a college budget. Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, the same tips apply so you can save money. Earning your degree is hard enough. Incorporating small changes into your finances can help ease your worries and focus on what truly matters — crossing the stage to receive your diploma.

Sasha Monik Moreno is a Founding Creator and career and education blogger. When she's not sharing her advice on Vivala.com, you can find her at themodernlatina.com.