Young woman uses prepaid electricity to stay within her college budgetChoosing where you want to go to college is a huge decision and it’s one that has so much excitement surrounding it. Picking your school also means coming up with a game plan on how you plan to pay for your education.

Living expenses are also a primary expense to plan for, but don’t let the bottom line push you into accruing unnecessary debt. There are options to save money on college costs!

Thankfully, the Gen-Z generation has learned a lot from the financial mistakes many Millennials made. Now, it’s popular to save, invest, and work to achieve FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early).

Even with steps in the right direction with money mindset, tuition rates are still rising annually. With the average student’s loan debt being $32,731, it’s no wonder financial independence is such a desire for the current generation of college students.

So, if Gen-Z wants to be debt free then that needs to take priority beginning with college.

Prepaid products help college students stay out of debtThe Many Benefits of Using Prepaid Products 

It’s 2020 and it’s a great time to be alive. Literally every business or vendor out there provides either physical gift cards or ones on their mobile apps. Having gift cards in any form will help you to stick to your budget.

Beyond gift cards are options to prepay for services as well by opting in to monthly memberships, etc. Here are just a few ways that prepaid products can be the best thing since you received news of your college acceptance:

  • Prepaid products keep your funds in one place.
  • Prepaid products teach you to use resources sparingly without having to carry cash.
  • Prepaid products make it easy for friends or family to send you money by reloading the card for you or transferring to an app like Venmo to make your reloading process easier. 
  • Prepaid products keep you on budget.

using a prepaid grocery delivery service prevents waste and saves moneyPrepaid Groceries

Food makes up a large portion of anyone’s household budget. There are a lot of ways to go about establishing a prepaid groceries routine. Even on a meal plan, food on campus gets expensive! 

Here are a few creative ideas to go prepaid when it comes to food: 

  • Recurring shipments. Check out Amazon Fresh to see if it is available in your area. Thrive Market is also a great option. Simply fill your cart and set your auto ship up for how often you’d like your items. 
  • Subscribe to a Community-Supported Agriculture Box. A CSA box allows you and your roommates to enjoy fresh produce and support a local farm. It’s a win, win! 
  • Preloaded gift cards and apps. If you can’t resist that Starbucks around the corner from your apartment then budget for it. Pre-load your gift card at the beginning of every month and indulge in lattes until the money runs out. 

Young man uses a prepaid cell phone in collegePrepaid Cell Phones

Prepaid phones used to mean getting a phone that could barely turn on and would burn through data if you looked at it the wrong way. Things have come a long way. You can choose to prepay on your phone in a couple of different ways.

  • Set up auto debit. This will make budgeting a breeze because you will know exactly how much will come out of your primary checking account each month and when.
  • Go prepaid. The next option is that you could get on a prepaid phone plan with just about any major provider. Verizon, for example, makes it effortless to go on a prepaid plan.

Prepaid Credit Cards for Smarter Spending in College

In today’s competitive lending market, credit card companies and retailers have developed prepaid debit cards, allowing people to enjoy the convenience of using a card without getting into debt.  

The concept and process are simple — you purchase a prepaid debit card for a small fee (usually under 10 dollars) and load the card up with a designated amount of money.  You can use the debit card like any other, but once there are no more funds you’re done until you top it up again.

This system gives you control over the amount of cash you spend and help monitor your spending habit with online tools.  

It also gives you a greater level of security than you would with cash because the cards can be cancelled and replaced if lost.  The same is not true for any envelope of with dollar bills!

Security and convenience do come at a cost

In addition to a registration fee, prepaid debit cards usually have a monthly fee of approximately 5 dollars, but when you break it down, it’s a minimal cost for added peace-of-mind. The key is to incorporate those costs into the budget for the items you choose to buy with the card. 

Texas university college students use prepaid electricity in Dallas, Houston, Waco, Corpus ChristiPrepaid Electric Utilities 

Where are the Texas students at? This is for you!

If you’ve gotten yourself a roommate (or 3) then you may want to consider pay-as-you-go electricity

Currently, Texas is the only state that does it. Texas electric retailers have to buy their power ahead of time, so they run a credit verification on all new customers. If the customer has a poor credit rating, they have to pay a sort of security deposit to ensure the electric companies don’t lose money.

Prepaid, or pay as you go, was developed for those who can’t pay a security deposit, or cannot provide the electric companies with a driver’s license or social security number (what is needed for a credit verification). 

You can register online to make payments from your smartphone. Customers receive a daily usage update through text and email that tells you approximately how many days until you need to recharge to help to eliminate the need for a credit card or keep the use at a minimum. 

This is an ideal option for college students that have not established a strong line of credit yet or will be living in their housing temporarily or seasonally (i.e. leaving for summer break, studying abroad, etc.).

Texas college students and prepaid product options Other Pre-Pay Services

You’re probably going to run into budget interruptions while you’re at college. Take time to plan ahead for these hiccups in your finances by mapping out anything that could come up.

We came up with a few ideas to get you started and how you can troubleshoot those issues if they arise:

  • A Family Emergency back home. Have money set aside in Venmo in case you need it for an emergency trip.
  • Unplanned Outings. When you can’t cook or get tired of hosting friends at your place then feel free to go out. The way to plan ahead for this is to load gift cards or apps of your regular hangouts. Find promo codes for online orders and coupons for in person dining to cut costs. 
  • Daily Essentials. Set up auto-ship and direct debit for things that you need on a daily basis. Things like contact lenses can be purchased in bulk and set to renew shipment when you know you’ll need them again.

Graduating Without Debt by Paying Ahead

There are so many areas where opting in to prepaid products will save you some serious cash in the long run. Renting an apartment with a few roommates off campus may be more affordable than you think.

Prepaying for needs ahead of time will not only save you the headache of possibly running out of money, but it will allow you to have more flexibility and control over your finances.

If you’re a Texas college student then taking advantage of prepaid electricity is a natural transition into living on your own. If you live in another state and want to know how to save on electricity then take time to research your provider. Most companies will give an electricity discount for those that enroll in auto-pay.

Go to college with a budget and with a game plan to leave in good financial standing. Your hard work will literally pay off!