How to Save Money as a College Student – My Top Methods


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
College is a time of great possibility and opportunity. But it’s also a time of being broke and having to make every penny count. It doesn’t always have to be that way, though. While the day-to-day expenses associated with college are indeed crazy high, there are lots of ways to save money in college. All it takes is a bit of ingenuity and discipline.

I’m writing this post on money saving tips for college students to help you save money during this time. Luckily, there are lots of ways to save money as a college student. This article will list my favorite methods. Read on to learn about my top tips for saving money in college!

Never Buy New Textbooks

Textbooks cost a lot of money. Fortunately, you’ll be able to save a considerable amount of money by buying used textbooks instead of new ones. Think about it: how often do people keep their textbooks? I know a few people who like to keep their textbooks for future reference or research (I have friends in the academe who like to do just that). Chances are, as soon as the school year is over, those books are resold. This means there’s a steady supply of used textbooks for you to purchase. Since these books are used, they are often cheaper than their brand-new counterparts. And since textbooks are only used for one year, they are often in pretty good shape – unless you get third- or fourth-hand books, but even those are in decent enough shape.

I even like to do some planning ahead: I try to get a copy of the next semester’s syllabus, then buy the necessary used textbooks ahead of schedule. Inversely, as soon as you’re done with your textbooks, you can resell them to fund the next year’s books.

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Live Just Outside College Towns

Living at or near campus has undeniable advantages. It’s easier to meet classmates for group work, you don’t have to spend much on transportation, and more convenient to live right where the action is. But unfortunately, landlords and building owners also know this, which is why rent at college towns can be a real financial burden.

While living in campus dorms is a viable, low-cost option, here’s a piece of advice if you prefer to have your own space: live just outside the college town your school is located in. You’ll be surprised by how big the rent charges drop. I live just outside a major college town, and the rent in my neighborhood is considerably cheaper than living at or near the campus. Your own mileage may vary, of course. But I really do believe it’s cheaper to live away from campus. But even living outside the college town, you’ll still be near enough that transportation and schedule shouldn’t be a problem. And speaking of transportation…

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Use a Bike

Unless you live really far from school or have a side hustle that requires car ownership (like working as a private grocery shopper or doing delivery for Amazon Flex), there really isn’t a need for car ownership while in college. I found riding a bike was more than adequate for my regular needs. Using a bike saved me lots of money – so much so that it’s one of my favorite ways of saving money as a college student. And for those days that you actually need a car, there are always ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft.

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Bring Your Own Packed Lunch

I know bad cafeteria food is part of the college experience. But you could save so much more money if you made your own lunches. It’ll take some advance planning, and a bit more work, but the savings will more than make up for it. And when you prepare your own food, you’ll have more control over the ingredients that go into it. I’m on a low-carb diet, and my nutritional needs actually convinced me to prepare my own food. It wouldn’t have been possible for me to get on this diet by eating pre-made food. Your own dietary requirements may vary, but cooking your own food will give you a level of control you can’t have by buying food outside.

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Use Coupons

I know, I know. Coupons are usually associated with senior citizens. But no matter how old you are, a bargain is always a good thing. There are lots of people who take “couponing” to the next level. Clipping coupons from newspapers and magazines are old school. There are now websites that provide digital coupons. I recommend you check out sites like Krazy Coupon Lady and Hip2Save for digital coupons. Traditional print coupons are easy to miss. But sites like the ones can send you notifications, so you never miss out on a great saving opportunity. Plus the sites I listed are continuously being updated. You don’t have to way for the latest issue of the newspaper to find new bargains. Give couponing a shot! You’ll be surprised by how much money you save!

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Get a Side Hustle

Schools offer various earning opportunities. These are usually student-assistant positions. They’re awesome, but you can look outside the confines of your school for more earning opportunities. You can check out sites like People Per Hour and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for freelance work and opportunities. And if you like to earn from the comfort of your own home, a rewards site like GrabPoints is a great option. You earn on GrabPoints by doing simple tasks like answering surveys and watching videos – they’re perfect since you can easily do these even during the busiest of school days.

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Become Financially Literate

Learning the ins and outs of personal finance is perhaps the ultimate way to save money as a college student – and pays dividends well into your professional life. There’s more to personal finance that can be covered in a single post, but it covers knowing how loans, financing, and insurance works. And since these things aren’t always covered in school, you need to have the initiative to study these processes on your own. It may seem like a hassle, considering all the other stuff you already need to study, but it’ll be more than worth it in the end.

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