Tips for Saving Money as a College Student

Aug 13, 2019 by

There’s often no one more broke than a college student. You find yourself living off Ramen noodles and instant mac and cheese. Tuition alone is astronomical at most universities, let alone day-to-day expenses. For some students, working full time just isn’t an option. But saving money as a college student is. With a little innovation and planning, you can learn how to budget and live comfortably on campus. Looking to shatter stereotypes? Keep reading.

Utilize Student Discounts

There’s no shame in asking about student discounts. In fact, most establishments in or around college campuses rely on these offers to bring in business. From eateries and coffee shops to gyms and even clothing stores, student discounts can save you upwards of 15% on every purchase. Just be sure to always have your student I.D. handy — most places will ask to see it. You can even do an online search and find local stores and shops that offer these discounts before heading out. Joining loyalty programs is another pro-saving tip. After so many purchases you may enjoy the luxury of a free meal, discount code, or other perks. While this may not seem like a big deal at the time, these savings add up. Especially if it’s a local place you frequent often.

Cut Back on Non-Necessities 

With that being said, it’s sometimes cheaper to brew your own coffee, grab a Pop Tart, or cook your own meals in your dorm or apartment. The price of groceries may seem extreme at first, but when you start adding up your three Starbucks coffees, lunch sandwich, and those wings you had for dinner (plus maybe a beer or two), you’re talking anywhere from $20-30 per day for food and drinks. You can buy a case of bottled water, some cold cuts, rolls, and oversized bag of pretzels for under $20 and it will last you the entire week! Get creative with your food purchases and don’t be afraid to brown bag it. The convenience of college life means scheduling your classes when it’s most convenient for you and popping back into your dorm to grab a quick snack. Try to avoid splurging on take-out too often. Invest in a Keurig and you’ll be shocked at the positive effect it has on your wallet and budget. 

Utilize Campus Resources

Why go outside of campus for things like food, a gym, or even work? If your tuition package includes food, you’d be foolish to eat anywhere but the cafeteria. After all, you’re already paying for the meals! Do you enjoy working out? Most campuses have large gyms filled with all the same equipment you’d find at a high-end facility without the hefty price tag and monthly membership fees. Next time you want to burn some calories, head over to the campus gym and save around $100 per month. If you can feasibly carry a job while also attending classes, why not work on campus? Not only is it convenient, but you may enjoy other benefits like discounts on school supplies or other resources. Find out who’s hiring and apply before your friends do!

Rent Your Books

It’s no secret that the price of college textbooks is through the roof. Although many college courses are turning to online resources for their classroom materials, many still require students to purchase textbooks. What’s even worse is that after you drop a few hundred dollars on a clunky book, after the semesters over, what can you do with it? Introducing the ingenious idea of renting your textbooks online. Not only are you saving money now, but you can sell any textbooks you own to these companies for use. Of course, they need to be in fairly good condition. Plus, you’re not left with a ton of books (that you’ll likely never use again) crowding your already cramped living space. Browse here to learn more.

Borrow Furniture

Furnishing your dorm room isn’t exactly rocket science — especially when the average dorm room is about 400 square feet. If you’re bunking with a roommate, your beds alone take up half that space. Add in a desk, mini-fridge, and bean bag chair and you’re likely left with minimal walking space. Furnishing your dorm room shouldn’t be an exorbitant expense but you still want it to feel like home. Ask friends and family if they have furniture or even room decor that you can borrow. Talk to your roommate in advance and pool your resources. Have a bedspread from home that you like? Bring it along! Don’t waste money on flashy decorations that you may never use again. Not to mention, your thriving social life will likely keep you out of the dorm a majority of the time. 

Ask for Care Packages from Home

When in doubt, ask your parents! While it’s not their responsibility to financially support your college experience, they’ll likely be happy to help. Instead of having them send you things you don’t need or may never use, make a list of things you run out of frequently and are practical necessities. This might include laundry detergent, paper products, Keurig pods, or even socks and underwear! Each month, they can send a care package chock full of items that will make your life easier and your wallet fatter. After a few months, you’ll be surprised at how excited you get about new dryer sheets, razors, and instant mashed potatoes! 

Get Creative with Your Commute

Some colleges have rules about which students can keep a vehicle on campus. If you’re an incoming freshman, you may not have the luxury of bringing your car to school. But don’t fret just yet! Not having a car while attending college might actually save you a ton of money. Not only are you saving on gas, but also repairs, insurance, and other related costs. If you have the ability to bring your car, consider swapping it for a more cost-effective option. Why not ride a bike or hoverboard, or even walk? Your commute will now double as exercise! Plus, if you’re already living on campus, where exactly are you commuting to? Your favorite eateries and hang-out spots are likely within walking distance. Save yourself time and aggravation and leave your car at home. Public transportation is another affordable option. 

Use these tips and you’ll be a broke college student no more! Get creative with your resources, ask for help, and share costs with your roommate. With a little creativity and effort, you might even leave college debt-free! 

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