There is no denying college is expensive. Between tuition, housing, food, travel, living expenses and books, the costs really add up. When money is tight and pressure is high, these tips have really helped me and other college students save.
- Pick a grocery store and stick to it, you will become really familiar with the cost of items and will be able to navigate your way around much easier to find the best deals.
- Be smart when you grocery shop, this post I wrote for Chase the Write Dream has tips on how I brought my grocery bill from $125 to $25.
- Make your own coffee, those Starbucks purchases add up quick.
- Go to events with free food, a lot of clubs and organizations on campus have events with free food! These are also a great way to meet new people.
- Drink water when at restaurants. It is free and can save a lot especially if you usually buy soda or alcohol.
- Avoid a meal plan if you can. Many colleges don’t allow you to not be on the meal plan but if you have the option, it is often much cheaper to make your own food than to eat in the dining halls.
- If you are going out, look for happy hour deals (not just for drinks!). Many restaurants have happy hour deals on food!
- Don’t eat out all the time (make your own food). Eating out can become really expensive really quickly. By making your own food, you will probably end up eating healthier and will save money.
- Don’t get your nails done in the salon. A $35 manicure is a great way to treat yourself once in a while but if you are doing this often, the cost will really add up. Do your own nails to save some money!
- Be smart with your beauty purchases. This post has my favorite beauty essentials on a college budget.
- Find free workout options on campus. Most universities and colleges have free exercise classes or gyms. Take advantage of these!
- Ditch cable! The cable bill can be super expensive. Save some money by going cable-free.
- Look into being an RA. If you are someone who truly wants to be an RA and is qualified and motivated, you can often get housing assistance and a living stipend. This is a great way to cut back on housing costs.
- Don’t buy dorm things you don’t need. I wrote an entire post on what I regret buying for college!
- Live at home if you can. While living on campus is an awesome experience, you will save a lot by living at home.
- If you are living off campus, find roommates to split the cost.
- Figure out what deals and discounts you can get through your school. Lots of stores and companies have student discounts! My favorites discounts are through Madewell, Spotify and JCrew.
- Don’t use a credit card on things you can’t afford. It is tempting when you think to yourself “oh what is $100 going to matter”. But before you know it, you can rack up a lot of debt. If you don’t have the means to pay it off, don’t purchase it.
- Find cheap college flights. Companies like Student Universe have awesome flight deals!
- Look for student discounts you can get with a student ID. Some schools have partnerships with local public transportation companies and have free bus or train passes!
- Use public transportation rather than Uber/Lyft if possible. While Uber and Lyft are awesome alternatives to Taxis, if you want to save even more and don’t need to be somewhere right away, try public transportation.
- Don’t buy your books from the bookstore. Often they are way more expensive than books you can find elsewhere on the internet or from classmates and friends.
- Sell your old books. Get back a little bit of money by selling books you no longer need to other college students.
- Save on school supplies. Wait until classes start to see what you will actually need for the semester.
- Create a budget. Sara Laughed has an awesome article on how to create your first budget in college.
- Plan ahead. Don’t have the ‘spend it all today and save later’ mentality. If you have money you earned over the summer, save as much of it as possible. You will be glad that you did later on.
- Do research studies. A lot of research labs on campus are always looking for subjects for their studies. I have friends who have made a lot of money doing this.
- Get an on-campus job to avoid paying taxes. If you work through your school in a work-study job, you will not have taxes taken out of your paycheck! Obviously you may have to file taxes in the Spring but if you are making under a certain amount you won’t.
- Find a bank that has deals for college students. Many banks offer free checking accounts or low-interest rate credit cards for college students. Do your research and find the best deal.
- Know what you can and can’t afford. Be realistic and don’t spend what you don’t have.
How do you save money in college? Let me know in the comments below!
Keeping a budget and reworking my meal plan helped me so much! I worked a few part-time jobs in college and then a full-time job during grad school and obviously didn’t want to lose all that money, so keeping a strict budget was important. I think every college student would benefit from these! Great job as always, Shannon 🙂
Thank you Tori!! Before I had a budget, I never knew where all my money was going. Now that I have one and I stick to it, I save so much money just because I am not mindlessly spending. I think it is important to learn those lessons earlier rather than later! Glad you found the post valuable!! 🙂
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