Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

College life is fun, and it is a splendid time to take life a little less seriously while still learning and growing. Life after college is quite a different story. All those years of studying, partying, and living on the fly are over when graduation comes.

Sometimes students are left bewildered at the debt they have accrued while in school. It is best to begin thinking about life after college from the very beginning. Save money in every way possible, so when that first student loan payment is due, it will not evoke panic. Here are a few helpful hints to getting started. Check out these four ways to save money while still in college.

Avoid purchasing textbooks new

Unless the professor or school requires such a horrible waste of money, leave the new textbooks to the unknowing freshman. Purchase or rent used textbooks. It will save hundreds over the course of a four-year education.

Also, avoid buying books from the school’s bookstore. The school does everything they can to squeeze every dime out of students. Do not fall for their money-sucking schemes. Buy from Chegg.com or check out local listings.

Cash in on tax deductions

The school does not send out those fancy tax forms each year for nothing. Even though the numbers may not make sense, there are a plethora of ways to save money on taxes while in college. It behooves students to take advantage of every bit of government offered savings.

Try placing the excess tax return in a savings account and forget about it. By the time school is over, there will be at least enough money to pay the first student loan payment. View the extra funds as a college retirement fund. Resist the urge to blow every dime on a kegger.

Drink in knowledge with a thirsty mind

Drink in knowledge, instead of beer. College is tricky, and no one lays out all the twists and turns for students. Ask any graduate if they would do anything different and it is a certainty that they will explain the different choices they would have made had they “known.” Students can even consolidate their loans before they ever even graduate to avoid excess interest rates.

Be in the know before graduating. Research financial aid laws and restrictions. Research grants and apply for scholarships whenever possible. It is hard to navigate, but the system does have a ton of built-in provisions to help students save money.

Be frugal

Take some advice from Ebeneezer Scrooge and be frugal. Four to six years of being a frugal penny pincher will certainly leave some savings in the bank. Cook food, instead of eating McDonald’s every night. Not only is it healthier, but it will save tons of money over time.