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10 Free Things Students Should Do to Beat Stress this Semester

College students: Here are 10 free activities to help you save money, beat stress, and take back your time this semester!

Have you ever felt like there’s just not enough time in the day? Or that your bank account could stand to have a couple more zeros? You’re not alone. Three of the biggest stress factors for students today are money, time management, and a lack of organization.

That’s why I’ve compiled a list of things you can do for free that will hopefully bring you some peace of mind. And while you might not find all of the items on this list to be “fun” activities, they will ultimately help you save money, beat stress, and take back control of your time.

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Develop a Monthly Budget

Having a monthly budget is imperative for reducing stress because it puts you in the driver’s seat of your finances.

For college students, it’s probably best to create a monthly budget based on your academic term, like your fall or spring semester. Begin by determining your fixed monthly expenses, like rent, car insurance, utilities, etc. After that, you can start categorizing other areas of spending and determine whether they’re essential or nonessential. If you have a credit or debit card, download your last statement to see if you have any recurring expenses there, like a subscription service. Smart Asset offers some good advice for categorizing your budget.

Free budget apps like Mint and GoodBudget are another good way to track your monthly expenses. And don’t forget to set aside a certain amount each month for emergencies.

Walk or Ride Your Bike Through Town

While cars and public transportation are quick and convenient, they don’t let you explore or connect with your city the same way walking and biking does. You’ll be surprised at how many great hole-in-the-wall places you’ll uncover along the way.

Attend a Campus Movie Night

Many colleges and universities host free movie nights for students. Go to your school’s website to see if they’ve posted a schedule. If it’s not online, or if your school doesn’t have a movie night, stop by the student union to ask what community events they do offer. It’s a great way to connect with other students without spending a dime!

Start a Blog

Are you passionate about a particular topic? Maybe you just need a personal space to share your thoughts? A blog is a fantastic (and free) way to get creative, hone your writing skills, and flesh out your goals and ideas.

Sites like WordPress and Blogger allow you to set up a free blog in a matter of seconds. And if your blog picks up traffic, you can even make money through the Google Adsense program. Cha-ching!

Visit a Free Museum

Many larger cities have free museums or museums that offer free admission on certain days. Simply Google “free museums in [your state]” and see if anything of interest pops up. Even smaller cities usually have exhibits or festivals you can check out. Your city’s website should have a calendar of local events, many of which are free.

Organize Your Electronic Files

With all of your assignments, your desktop can quickly clutter up if you don’t take the time to properly label and sort them. Take an hour or two to develop a consistent naming system for your projects and files. Stanford University offers some great tips for naming your electronic files. While this may not be the most fun task in the world, you will be glad to have done it!

Learn the Basics of a New Topic

iTunes U offers an entire library of free educational content from schools like Harvard and MIT in the form of podcasts, public lectures, and video tutorials. Just open iTunes and click on the little graduation cap. You can also get free access to Course Hero when you upload your own study documents to help other students. Learn how to get free access to Course Hero here.

Learn a Practical Skill

Want to learn the proper way to jumpstart your car or improve your negotiating skills? You can use any downtime you have to learn a skill that will undoubtedly come in handy one day. For inspiration, check out LifeHack’s list of 54 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do.

Make a List of Your Goals

Writing down your personal and professional goals is the first step in turning them into a reality. Seeing your goals on paper will help you prioritize and organize your approach in achieving them. Be as specific as possible with your goals as this will make them feel much more tangible. MindTools has some great tips for personal goal setting to get you started.

Go for a Hike

There’s no better way to connect with nature and to regain perspective than going on a hike. Go to a site like AllTrails or your city’s parks and recreation site where you can search for hiking spots near you. Remember to bring your camera! If you know of any other free activities college students can do to reduce stress and feel refreshed, let us know in the comments below!

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