College on a Budget

College on a Budget: 10 Hacks to Save Big as a Student

Dear Fellow Students! Are you tired of the constant struggle to make ends meet, surviving on ramen noodles and empty pockets? Well, fear not, for I bring you the solution to your financial woes – the art of saving money in college. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But how can I possibly save when my bank account is drier than the Sahara Desert?” Trust me, my friends, it’s not as impossible as it seems.

Imagine this: instead of constantly feeling the weight of overdue bills and final warnings, you could be living your best life, free from the shackles of financial stress. It’s time to bid farewell to those money worries and embrace the realm of smart saving techniques. Get ready to unleash your inner penny-pinching prowess and become a savvy saver extraordinaire!

Let’s face it, we all have champagne tastes on a beer budget. We crave the finer things in life, but our wallets often can’t keep up with our desires. Fear not, for this is a common plight among college and high school students. Some may even find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of debt – a fate we must avoid at all costs.

But fear not, my fellow scholars, for there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The key to financial success lies in being mindful of your spending habits. This year, it’s time to establish some savings goals for yourself, starting with a list of more than 30 easy ways to save. By putting these financial goals into practice, you’ll be saving thousands of dollars each year, and that’s a promise!

So, my friends, let us embark on this journey together, armed with determination and a thirst for financial freedom. Embrace the art of saving money in college, and watch as your bank account flourishes like a well-tended garden. The time to take control of your finances is now, and I’m here to guide you every step of the way. Let’s do this!

Create a Budget

College on a Budget

Creating a budget is an essential step towards achieving financial stability, especially during the college years when resources are often limited. Budgeting may seem daunting at first, but it’s a valuable skill that will serve you well throughout your life. Let’s break it down into manageable steps:

Calculate your income: Make a list of all your sources of income, whether it’s a part-time job, financial aid, scholarships, or support from family. Understand exactly how much money you have coming in each month.

Track your expenses: This is where the real work begins. Carefully monitor every penny you spend, categorizing your expenses into essentials (rent, textbooks, groceries, utilities, transportation) and non-essentials (dining out, entertainment, etc.). Be honest with yourself and keep a detailed record.

Set financial goals: Decide what you want to achieve financially, whether it’s building an emergency fund, saving for a future investment, or simply having enough for occasional indulgences. Clear goals will help you prioritize your spending.

Compare income and expenses: Now, it’s time to analyze. Look at your income and expenses side by side. Are you spending more than you’re earning? Are there areas where you can cut back? This step will help you identify potential areas for adjustment.

Adjust and prioritize: Based on your analysis, make necessary adjustments to your spending. Prioritize essential expenses first, and then allocate funds for your financial goals. Don’t be afraid to make sacrifices – that concert or those new jeans may have to wait until you’re on firmer financial footing.

Remember, budgeting is an ongoing process. As your circumstances change, review and update your budget accordingly. It may take some trial and error to find the right balance, but sticking to a budget will help you develop valuable financial habits that will serve you well beyond your college years.

Embrace the challenge of budgeting, and you’ll be on your way to a more financially secure future. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from financial advisors or experienced peers if you need additional support. With discipline and determination, you can master the art of budgeting and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with being in control of your finances.

Money Saving Chart for Students 30 Days Challenge

Money Saving Chart for Students 30 Days Challenge

15 Plus Easy Ways to Save Money as A Student

1.  Buy Second Hand Books

Buying second-hand books  is an excellent way for students to save a significant amount of money. Some great examples really highlight the potential savings:

Thrift Store Shopping
Visiting thrift stores like Goodwill or charity shops is a smart strategy for finding gently used clothing, furniture, household items and more at heavily discounted prices compared to buying new. Students can be amazed at the bargains available through thrift shopping.

Used Textbooks
The textbook example provided is eye-opening – paying just $8.59 for a used copy of a book that costs $259 new. That’s over 95% savings! Even renting from companies like Pearson for $9.99 per month is far cheaper than the brand new price. As long as professors approve using an older/different edition, using secondhand textbook sources is a no-brainer money-saver.

Selling Back Books
The tip about selling used textbooks back on sites like BookScouter is brilliant. That recoups some of the upfront costs after the semester is over.

The key advantage of going the secondhand route is getting quality products at a fraction of the regular retail price. For cost-conscious students, buying used and re-selling when possible is a sustainable way to obtain the needed items while keeping spending to an absolute minimum.

The examples prove that hitting up secondhand markets for textbooks, clothing, furniture and more can easily keep hundreds of dollars per semester in a student’s pocket. It’s one of the smartest financial habits to build early on. Embracing the practice of buying pre-owned goods is fantastic advice!

2. Cook Your Own Food

College on a Budget

One of the easy ways to save money is to bring fresh produce from the farmer’s market and cook meals at home. Eating out can quickly drain funds that students need for college supplies, tuition fees, and managing their lifestyle.

It undoubtedly costs less to eat in than to dine out. Finding ways to prepare easy foods at home is crucial. A simple microwave or hot plate can be helpful, as long as it doesn’t violate any rules – and a mini-fridge is essential. This way, students can stock up on lunch meats, yogurt, and fresh veggies to last through the week. Buying a coffee pot is much cheaper than stopping by the campus cafe daily. Cooking meals is significantly more economical than shelling out for the university meal plan.

Students can find plenty of easy recipes and make delicious dishes without breaking the bank. Additionally, the food we eat contributes to our overall well-being. Cooking at home allows students to maintain a healthy lifestyle, use the activity as a way to unwind, and find joy in simple pleasures.

By embracing home-cooked meals using fresh, inexpensive ingredients from farmer’s markets or grocery stores, students can save a substantial amount while enjoying the physical and mental benefits of preparing their own food.

3. Take Advantage of Student Discounts

One of the key ways for students to save money is by maximizing the benefits of their college ID. This card unlocks a wide range of discounts not just on campus, but at numerous retail stores, restaurants, and cultural institutions as well. Moreover, major tech companies like Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft offer substantial discounts on their products exclusively for students with a valid ID.

Most communities recognize the financial constraints faced by college students and provide specialized discounts catering to this demographic. All that’s typically required to take advantage of these offers is the simple presentation of a school-issued ID. From movie tickets and electronics to room decor, students can potentially save a significant amount by staying vigilant and utilizing their student status.

Additionally, many credit card companies offer exclusive reward programs and cashback offers tailored specifically for college students. A quick online search for “student discounts” can reveal a wealth of opportunities to save money on a variety of goods and services.

By making the most of their college ID and actively seeking out student-oriented discounts and rewards, students can stretch their limited budgets further and alleviate some of the financial pressures that often accompany the college experience. A little bit of effort in researching and taking advantage of these offers can result in substantial savings over the course of their academic journey.

College on a Budget

4.  Finding a Part Time Job

Finding a part-time job can be a smart move for college students to help offset expenses, although it’s important to strike a balance between work and academics.

Many students find it necessary to work while attending college to cover costs. However, it’s crucial to understand personal limitations and prioritize studying over earning. Ideally, students should aim to keep their work hours within the part-time range to avoid compromising their academic performance.

One advantage of taking online classes is the added flexibility, which can make it easier to fit a part-time work schedule around coursework. This can help students manage their time more efficiently and reduce potential conflicts between work and school commitments.

While a part-time job does require dedicating time away from friends and studying, the financial benefits can be significant. The extra income can help alleviate the burden of tuition, housing, textbooks, and other expenses associated with college life.

It’s important for students to carefully assess their individual circumstances and capabilities before deciding to take on a part-time job. Those who can manage their time effectively and maintain a healthy balance between work, academics, and personal life may find that the financial advantages outweigh the potential drawbacks.

4. Saving on Entertanment

Many students operate under the misconception that having fun requires spending a significant amount of money on activities like movies, parties, clubs, theme parks, and other local attractions. However, if you truly want to find ways to save money as a student, it’s important to explore alternative options.

In fact, most cities offer a variety of free entertainment options; it simply takes a little extra effort and dedication to uncover them. Universities themselves often provide plenty of inexpensive entertainment opportunities, and joining student clubs can often lead to discounts on various activities.

Instead of spending money on pricey movie tickets, students can take advantage of their friends’ streaming service subscriptions, which are usually free to access. Seeking out alternative entertainment options like these can be a great way to save money. These might include gathering at a friend’s dorm room instead of socializing at a local cafe, or keeping up with your favorite celebrities online instead of purchasing glossy magazines.

Furthermore, students can consider organizing simple picnics with friends and family rather than meeting for lunch at trendy restaurants, and explore vintage clothing stores in the area as an alternative to shopping at the mall.

By embracing a mindset of seeking out low-cost or free entertainment options, students can significantly reduce their overall expenses without sacrificing their social lives or enjoyment. It’s all about being creative and open to exploring the various opportunities that exist within their local community and campus.

5. Taking Online Courses

Taking online courses can be an excellent way for students to save money during their college journey. While not every institution offers fully online degree programs, many provide the option of a hybrid schedule, allowing students to take some classes online. These online classes are typically more affordable than their in-person counterparts.

According to U.S. News & World Report, online classes can lead to cost savings in several ways:

Elimination of room and board expenses: By taking classes remotely, students can avoid the significant costs associated with on-campus housing and meal plans.

No transportation costs: Online courses eliminate the need for commuting to and from campus, saving students money on gas, public transportation, or parking fees.

More affordable course materials: Often, the digital materials required for online classes are less expensive than traditional textbooks.

While online learning may not be suitable for every student or program, it can be a cost-effective option for those who are able to succeed in a virtual environment. It’s worth exploring the online degree and course offerings available at various institutions.

For those interested in pursuing online education, researching the available programs and comparing costs with traditional on-campus options is recommended. This can help determine if the potential savings make online courses a viable choice for achieving academic goals while minimizing financial strain.

6. Buy in Bulk Items

The saying “the more, the merrier” applies to saving money as a student too. Buying in bulk allows you to stretch your dollar further with each purchase. Make grocery runs with your friends and go in together on family packs of items. Stocking up on groceries, toilet paper, and other essentials in bulk quantities can save you a surprising amount of money in the long run.

Being a student is tough, especially when it comes to managing finances responsibly. But putting some simple budgeting strategies into practice can help you achieve financial stability. Using some of the best money-saving apps designed specifically for students can make it much easier to stick to your budget without a lot of hassle. The key is learning how to be smart with your spending without depriving yourself of the things you enjoy. It’s about finding a balance and prioritizing in order to reach your financial goals. An easy tip is to book your student housing well in advance through companies that offer shared apartments near campus.

So take advantage of smart budgeting hacks like these, and you can save impressively as a student without sacrificing too much fun! It’s all about being a savvy spender while still enjoying your college experience.

7. Don’t use Credit Card While Studying

Credit cards can be useful tools, but you must use them strategically. Otherwise, they become a liability rather than an asset. If you use credit cards, even those offering great student rewards, use them wisely. Try to limit their usage to emergencies or necessities, and avoid taking costly cash withdrawals. Transactions like these usually accrue interest daily, instead of monthly, and the totals can multiply much faster than you realize.

Taking out a credit or debit card makes it easy to pay a bill without facing the reality of the price. However, one of the simplest ways to save money is to leave your credit card at home.

Credit cards lure many into the “buy now, pay later” trap, but this bad habit can lead to overspending or massive bank debts at the end of the month. Avoid this method of payment; keeping track is much easier with cash!

Use these helpful tips to avoid amassing too much credit card debt:

Don’t miss making at least your minimum monthly payment. Avoid going over your credit limit. Try to pay more than the minimum due each month. Don’t open more credit cards than you can afford to pay. Monitor your accounts for fraudulent charges. Stay on top of your credit history by using an app such as Credit Karma or Credit Sesame to help you manage your cards and stay informed about your credit score.

8. Save on Travel

Nobody likes riding the bus, but doing so can save you a significant amount of money over the course of a semester. By taking local public transportation or even carpooling with friends, you’ll save a lot of cash, especially with the rising cost of gasoline. In 2018 when gas averaged $2.94 a gallon, Metro Magazine estimated the annual savings of taking the bus over owning a vehicle at more than $10,000. At some colleges, that much could cover the cost of a semester or even an entire year.

To make public transportation even more convenient and user-friendly, buy a year-round pass. This eliminates the need to dig for change every morning. Better yet, sign up for online classes and skip the commute entirely.

We understand finding ways to save money as a student isn’t easy because everyone’s lifestyle is different. However, using public transport can help you save big! Taking buses, trains, or carpooling with friends burns fewer holes in your pockets. Many cities and countries offer discounted railway cards, bus passes, or special travel passes for students to make public transit even more affordable.

While it may not be the most glamorous option, utilizing public transportation or carpooling is one of the smartest money-saving tactics for college students. A little inconvenience can lead to substantial savings over the long run.

9.  Use Discount Coupons

Coupons can be a lifesaver when trying to save money as a student. You’ll find coupons for all kinds of things – paper towels, produce, canned goods, toiletries, and more.

Many stores also have their own loyalty programs, providing another way for students to save. You can collect points and exchange them for discounts down the line.

Taking just a little time to clip coupons from flyers or websites can really pay off. Get in the habit of never paying full price if you can help it. Between manufacturer’s coupons, store loyalty cards, and student discounts, there are usually multiple ways to save on your purchases.

The savings may seem small at first, but they add up fast when you make couponing a habit. You’ll be amazed how much you can knock off your total grocery, household, and personal care bills just by doing a few minutes of coupon research. It’s one of the easiest ways to stretch your student budget.

10. Get Scholarships

Tuition fees are often the biggest expense burden for students. Scholarships are the lifeboats that can save you from drowning in debt and constant broke status.

Whether it’s a bursary, scholarship, or award, securing additional funding can significantly reduce the steep cost of tuition and fees. Every bit of free money helps enormously when you’re a student on a tight budget.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you won’t qualify for scholarships. There are countless opportunities out there for all kinds of students with different backgrounds, skills, and areas of study. Make an effort to identify and apply for as many as possible.

Spending time applying may seem like a chore, but the payoff of getting scholarships and minimizing your loan burden is absolutely worth it. Landing even a couple thousand dollars can take a huge weight off your shoulders.

Aggressively pursue every scholarship you can. Getting that free money will mean less financial stress and stretching what little income you have even further. It’s one of the smartest money-saving tactics for college students.

Budgeting Tips For Students

Track your expenses meticulously: Knowledge is power when it comes to budgeting. Keep a detailed record of every dollar you spend, whether it’s through a budgeting app, a spreadsheet, or good old pen and paper. This will give you a clear picture of where your money is going and identify areas where you might be overspending.

Prioritize essential expenses: Make a list of your non-negotiable expenses, such as rent, utilities, groceries, and loan payments. Ensure that these expenses are covered first before allocating funds for discretionary spending.

Set realistic financial goals: Whether it’s building an emergency fund, paying off debt, or saving for a future investment, setting clear financial goals will help you stay focused and motivated. Break down your goals into smaller, achievable milestones to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Automate your savings: Set up automatic transfers from your checking account to a dedicated savings account. Even small amounts can add up over time, and automating the process ensures that you’re consistently putting money aside before you have a chance to spend it.

Explore ways to cut costs: Look for opportunities to reduce your expenses without sacrificing your quality of life. Consider cooking at home more often, negotiating bills, or finding free or low-cost entertainment options in your area.

Be mindful of lifestyle inflation: As your income grows, it’s tempting to increase your spending accordingly. However, try to maintain your current lifestyle and redirect any surplus funds toward your financial goals or emergency fund.

Seek professional advice if needed: If you’re struggling to create a sustainable budget or tackle significant debt, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a financial advisor or counselor. Their expertise can provide valuable insights and strategies tailored to your unique situation.

Remember, budgeting is a continuous process that requires discipline and flexibility. As your circumstances change, be prepared to adjust your budget accordingly. Embrace the process, and you’ll soon find that financial worries can be replaced with a sense of empowerment and control over your financial future.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I save money as a student faster?

One of the most effective budgeting tips is to track your expenses meticulously. Avoid impulse buys, categorize your spending, and prioritize your needs over wants.

Why should I shop in the evenings to save money as a student?

Compile a list of budgeting tips, identify areas to trim your expenses, and establish clear financial objectives to reach your goals.

What is the 30-day rule?

The 30-day rule suggests that when tempted by an impulse purchase, refrain from buying it immediately. Instead, give yourself 30 days to mull it over. If you still want it after the waiting period, then consider making the purchase.

How do I make a budget?

Before delving into budgeting tips, it’s essential to know how to create a budget. Begin by setting realistic financial goals, calculating your income, tracking your expenditures, and devising a plan to manage your finances effectively.

How can I enjoy my money?

By mastering the art of saving money as a student, you can allocate funds towards self-care, enriching experiences, and meaningful gifts for your loved ones, allowing you to derive greater enjoyment from your financial resources.


Avoid credit card debt by using credit cards sparingly and strategically. Make at least minimum payments, don’t exceed limits, and monitor accounts closely. Opt for cash payments when possible to avoid overspending and debt accumulation. Use public transportation like buses, trains, or carpooling to save significant money compared to operating a personal vehicle, especially with rising gas prices. Buy discounted student transit passes. Diligently collect and use coupons for groceries, household items, and personal care products. The small savings add up tremendously. Also take advantage of store loyalty programs.

Actively pursue scholarships, bursaries, and awards. Every bit of free funding helps reduce the massive burden of tuition and minimizes post-graduate loan debt. Make bulk grocery runs with friends to stock up on household essentials at lower per-unit costs. Split bulk purchases to maximize savings. Implement smart financial habits like these, and students can save meaningfully without deprivation. The keys are careful budgeting, avoiding debt, taking advantage of discounts, and maximizing free funding sources.

Saving money as a student requires discipline and creative cost-cutting, but it’s absolutely achievable. By employing tactics like these, college students can stretch their limited funds, minimize debt, and still enjoy an enriching academic experience without constant financial stress. A little frugality goes a long way.

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