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60 Impressive Money-Saving Tips for College Students

We all know that being a student often means living on a tight budget. From tuition fees to textbooks to late-night study snacks, the costs can quickly add up. But fear not!

We’ve got you covered with some practical and easy-to-follow money-saving tips that will help you make the most of your college experience without breaking the bank. Whether you’re a freshman just starting out or a seasoned senior looking to save some extra cash, these tips are sure to help you navigate the world of budget-friendly college living like a pro. So, let’s dive in and explore how you can stretch your student budget further than you ever thought possible!

how to save money in college

The Financial Challenges College Students Face

College students face unique financial challenges that can make the pursuit of higher education stressful. Tuition fees continue to rise (the cost of college is around $22,000 annually for a four-year public college), putting a strain on students and their families. Additionally, the cost of textbooks, housing, food, transportation, and other necessities can quickly add up.

Many students also struggle to balance part-time jobs with their studies, leading to stress and potential burnout. The transition to college often comes with newfound independence, which can lead to poor financial decisions (been there, done that) and oftentimes credit card debt. These challenges highlight the importance of budgeting and money management skills for college students to navigate their financial journey successfully.

Learning how to budget responsibly and save money in your college years will benefit you immensely as you get started in the world and grow your wealth over time. The best tip I have for growing your wealth and giving yourself financial freedom is to keep your fixed expenses as low as possible. This applies whether you’re in college or not!

Saving money in college is important for several reasons. First and foremost, college is expensive, and saving money can help you avoid accumulating excessive debt. It can also provide a financial safety net for unexpected expenses, such as medical emergencies, car repairs, etc.

Learning to save money teaches valuable financial skills that will benefit you long after college. By saving money, you can also reduce financial stress and have more freedom to pursue opportunities such as studying abroad or taking on unpaid internships. Overall, saving money in college is a smart way to prepare for the future and ensure financial stability.

how to save money in college

60 Smart Money-Saving Tips for College Students

How To Save on Housing

Housing is often one of the biggest expenses college students who live on or near campus have. Here are some tips to help you save more on your housing:

  1. Consider living on-campus: Sometimes, living on-campus can be more affordable than renting off-campus housing. Plus, you’ll be closer to classes and campus amenities.
  2. Get a roommate: Splitting rent and utilities with a roommate can significantly reduce your housing costs. The more roommates you have the lower the cost.
  3. Look for student housing options: Some landlords offer student discounts or affordable housing options specifically for students.
  4. Consider a shorter lease: If you’re only going to be on campus for part of the year, look for a shorter lease to avoid paying for months when you won’t be there.
  5. Look for housing further from campus: While living close to campus is convenient, housing further away is often cheaper. Just make sure to factor in transportation costs.
  6. Negotiate your rent: If you’re renting from a private landlord, try negotiating your rent. They may be willing to lower the rent if you sign a longer lease or agree to certain terms.
  7. Look for subsidized housing options: Some cities offer subsidized housing options for students or low-income individuals.
  8. Consider alternative housing options: Look into options like co-living spaces, house-sitting, or caretaking opportunities, which can sometimes offer lower rent in exchange for other responsibilities.
  9. Look for housing during off-peak times: Rent prices may be lower if you’re looking for housing during times when demand is lower, such as summer or winter break.
  10. Consider living with family: If you have family in the area, consider living with them to save on housing costs.

These tips can help you save money on housing and free up more cash for other college expenses or savings.

how to save money in college

How To Save Money on Food as a College Student

Food is often the second biggest expense college students have. Even if you have a dining plan, it can take some careful management to make sure it lasts the semester. Here are some tips to help you stretch your dollars:

  1. Cook at home: Eating out can add up quickly. Cooking at home if you have the ability to is not only cheaper but also healthier.
  2. Meal prep: Spend some time each week preparing meals in advance. This can save you time and money during the week.
  3. Buy in bulk: Buying items like rice, pasta, and beans in bulk can save you money in the long run.
  4. Use student discounts: Many grocery stores and restaurants offer discounts to students. Don’t be afraid to ask!
  5. Limit eating out: Eating out should be a treat, not a regular occurrence. Save eating out for special occasions.
  6. Shop sales: Keep an eye out for sales and coupons to save money on groceries.
  7. Buy generic brands: Generic brands are often just as good as name brands and can save you a lot of money.
  8. Avoid buying drinks: Drinks can be expensive. Stick to water to save money.
  9. Pack your lunch: Packing your lunch instead of buying it can save you a lot of money over time.
  10. Use your meal plan wisely: If your college offers a meal plan, make sure to use it wisely to get the most bang for your buck.

How To Save Textbooks and Supplies When In College

The cost of textbooks and supplies can really add up. Here are some tips to help you save some cash:

  1. Buy used textbooks: Buying used textbooks can save you a lot of money compared to buying new ones.
  2. Rent textbooks: Renting textbooks is another great way to save money. Many bookstores and online retailers offer rental options.
  3. Buy digital textbooks: Digital textbooks are often cheaper than physical ones and can be more convenient.
  4. Share textbooks with a classmate: If you have a classmate who is taking the same class, consider sharing a textbook to split the cost.
  5. Buy older editions: In some cases, buying an older edition of a textbook can save you money. Just make sure the content is still relevant.
  6. Look for free online resources: There are many websites that offer free or low-cost textbooks and educational materials.
  7. Use the library: Your college library may have copies of textbooks that you can borrow for free.
  8. Buy supplies in bulk: Buying supplies like notebooks, pens, and folders in bulk can save you money in the long run.
  9. Take advantage of student discounts: Many stores offer discounts to students, so make sure to ask if you can get a discount.
  10. Wait to buy: Sometimes professors will say that a textbook is required, but you may find that you don’t actually need it. Wait until the first week of class to see if you really need to buy the textbook.
saving money in college

Smart Tips To Save Money on Transportation

The cost of getting around might not be something you’re thinking about right now or apply to everyone, but for some, it can really add up. Here are some things to think about to save money on transportation:

  1. Use public transportation: Public transportation is often cheaper than owning a car and can save you money on gas, parking, and maintenance.
  2. Carpool: If you live off-campus, consider carpooling with classmates or roommates to share the cost of gas and parking.
  3. Walk or bike: If you live close to campus, walking or biking can be a cost-effective and healthy way to get around.
  4. Use ride-sharing services wisely: If you need to use a ride-sharing service, consider sharing the ride with others to split the cost.
  5. Take advantage of student discounts: Many cities and transportation services offer discounts to students, so make sure to ask if you can get a discount.
  6. Consider a bike share program: Some cities and college campuses offer bike share programs that allow you to rent a bike for a short period of time at a low cost.
  7. Plan your trips wisely: Try to combine errands and avoid unnecessary trips to save on transportation costs.
  8. Consider a student transit pass: Some colleges offer discounted transit passes for students, which can save you money on bus or train fares.
  9. Use a bike or scooter: If you live in a city with bike lanes or scooter rentals, using a bike or scooter can be a cheap and convenient way to get around.
  10. Consider a part-time job with transportation benefits: Some employers offer transportation benefits, such as reimbursement for public transportation or parking expenses, which can help offset your costs.

Tips For Saving Money on Your Social Life in College

Looking to have a great social life without breaking the bank? Here are some tips:

  1. Take advantage of campus events: Many colleges offer free or low-cost events, such as movie nights, concerts, and lectures. These can be a fun way to socialize without spending a lot of money.
  2. Host potluck dinners or game nights: Instead of going out to eat or to a bar, consider hosting a potluck dinner or game night with friends. This way, everyone can contribute food or games, and you can save money.
  3. Look for student discounts: Many restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues offer discounts to students. Make sure to ask if you can get a discount before you pay.
  4. Take advantage of happy hour specials: If you do go out to eat or to a bar, try to go during happy hour when prices are lower.
  5. Limit expensive outings: Going to movies, concerts, or other expensive events can quickly add up. Try to limit these outings and opt for cheaper or free activities instead.
  6. Use social media for deals and discounts: Many businesses offer deals and discounts through social media. Follow your favorite places on social media to stay updated on any promotions.
  7. Explore free or low-cost activities: Look for free or low-cost activities in your area, such as hiking, visiting museums on free days, or attending community events.
  8. Consider volunteering: Volunteering can be a rewarding way to socialize and give back to your community without spending money.
  9. Set a budget: Set a monthly budget for social activities and stick to it. This can help you avoid overspending and ensure that you have enough money for other expenses.
  10. Be creative: Sometimes, the best social activities are the ones that don’t cost anything. Get creative with your friends and come up with fun, low-cost ways to socialize.

Saving Money on Health and Wellness

Taking care of your health and wellness is important, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some tips to help you save money:

  1. Use your college health services: Most colleges offer health services to students at a reduced cost or for free. Take advantage of these services for check-ups, vaccinations, and basic medical care.
  2. Stay active for free: Instead of paying for a gym membership, take advantage of free fitness classes offered on campus or use outdoor spaces for activities like running, hiking, or yoga.
  3. Eat healthy on a budget: Look for sales and discounts on healthy food options, and consider cooking meals at home instead of eating out. Buying in bulk and meal prepping can also help you save money on food.
  4. Use generic medications: If you need to buy over-the-counter or prescription medications, opt for generic brands, which are usually cheaper than name brands.
  5. Take care of your mental health: Many colleges offer counseling services to students for free or at a reduced cost. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, don’t hesitate to seek help.
  6. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is important for your health and can help you avoid costly sugary drinks. Carry a reusable water bottle with you to save money on bottled water.
  7. Practice preventive care: Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and good hygiene can help prevent illnesses and save you money on medical bills.
  8. Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can lead to health problems and affect your academic performance. Make sure to prioritize sleep and establish a regular sleep schedule.
  9. Avoid risky behaviors: Engaging in risky behaviors, such as smoking or excessive drinking, can have serious health consequences and lead to unnecessary medical expenses.
  10. Take advantage of student discounts: Many businesses offer discounts to students on health and wellness products and services. Don’t forget to ask if you can get a discount before you pay.

By following these tips, you can take care of your health and wellness without breaking the bank.

how to save money in college infographic

It’s Not Impossible To Save Money In College!

While college is a great experience, it’s not the time to blow your money and spending out of the water. Tuition and college expenses are enough without taking on additional debt.

By implementing these money-saving tips, you can make the most of your college experience without breaking the bank. Remember, every dollar saved now is a dollar that can be put towards your future. So, be smart with your money, prioritize your expenses, and set yourself up for financial success both during and after college. With a little bit of planning and budgeting, you can enjoy all that college has to offer without sacrificing your financial stability.

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About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.