How to Save Money 101: College Edition
Updated: Feb 7
College is normally the first time that students start managing money, schedules, and responsibilities are their own. Saving money can be a challenging task when juggling classes, part-time jobs, and extracurricular activities. It may be the furthest thing from students’ minds, but it should be a priority for every student to begin saving and budgeting their own finances. These tips may be super easy and no-brainers to you or they may seem challenging. Balancing money can become a very personal journey, so start small with how you begin saving money and grow from there!
Less Eating Out: I know that Sunday brunches, bottomless mimosas, and date nights are so much fun. They are also super expensive when you go out four nights a week. You don’t need to miss out on all the fun, but try to set a limit for yourself to one or two nights a week of spending money on food. There are also a ton of ways you can enjoy your weekend on a budget.
Quit the Caffeine: Okay, who am I kidding? As a caffeine addict, I know that I cannot follow my own tip of quitting coffee completely. But rather than spending on average $4 every day (or $28 a week!) at a coffee shop, invest in a coffee machine. You can still keep pulling the all-nighters without spending an excessive amount on a cup of joe.
Discount Galore: Everyone knows that college students are on a budget, which is great for only one reason…the discounts! Theaters, clothing stores, restaurants, concerts, and more places offer discounted prices by providing a college ID. So, use your very expensive ID as a giant coupon.
Reduce Subscriptions: Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Prime TV…. I could go on but you get the point. There is a lot of options when it comes to streaming platforms but you don’t need to subscribe to all of them! Limit yourself to one, if you ever find yourself wanting to watch something from a different platform try the free trial or phone a friend for their username and password.
Public Transportation: If there is access to public transportation, use it. Uber and Lyft can sometimes be cheaper than public transportation when traveling with big groups, for smaller groups, more often than not, public transportation will be the cheaper route.
Use School Resources
Job on Campus: Many college students need to find a part-time job during the semester that understands school breaks and class schedules. If you are looking for a job with flexibility to accommodate your busy schedule no employer is more understanding than colleges.
Meal Plan: If you live on-campus meal plans are often built into the tuition costs, meaning that you are paying for the food being provided. Instead of paying extra to eat out during the week eat for ‘free’ at the campuses dining hall.
Print on Campus: Don’t waste money on a printer and ink cartridges! Printing on campus in the library or other buildings will be much cheaper and less hassle in the long run.
Secret Free Amenities: Colleges often provide countless helpful resources that are completely free but kept quiet or are glossed over. Such as putting in a work order and getting a year supply of toilet paper for your dorm room! It’s the little things that start to add up, like paying for toilet paper. Do a little digging at your college to see what they can provide for you!
Internship Credit or Summer Classes: Policies vary from colleges but it may be possible to work an internship for college credit rather than taking a class. This will save money and also pad your resume! Look into taking summer classes to fulfill credits quicker and in turn graduate quicker.
Financial Aid & Scholarships: This is extremely important to pay attention too. Communicate with the school of your financial standing and needs. Reach out and talk with as many resources that the college provides to reduce tuition costs by any means necessary. Scholarships and financial aid will go a long way to limiting the number of student loans.
Free College Checking Account: Select banks will offer free checking accounts for students until graduation. Meaning that a minimum balance will not be required nor will other fees apply to the account.
Automatic Deposits: For some, it can be hard to manually transfer money into a savings account, it may feel like you are ‘losing’ money. A great way to solve this is by setting up an automatic transfer from every paycheck to your savings account, for every paycheck a certain amount will automatically go to the savings account. You won’t see the money being ‘taken’ away from your checking account. This way you will only budget for what is in your checking and keep building the savings account.
Saving Bills: Save every $1 and $5 bill that you come across. At the end of the semester or year, there will be a bundle of bills that can be added to a savings account or used to pay off bills!
Watchful Loans: Be very careful if you need to utilize student loans, use the college to go over all the various plans and interests’ rates. You will not want to be blind-sided after graduation with the number of student loans you need to pay back. Don’t let the loans discourage you from finishing college but do be mindful.
Saving money in college may be the furthest thing from students’ minds. It may seem like a struggle to save while everyone seems to be spending money at every turn. Just remember that cutting out all the fun isn’t necessary to save a few bucks, but do be strategic about when you go out and spend money. Save money in college to help your future self!