How to Save Money in College – Six Awesome Hacks


Bronze Wordsmith
May 17, 2018
Income-generating opportunities for college students may be relatively limited, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save money. If anything, the fact that students don’t make so much money is absolutely why you should save money.

That said, I think there are a few unique challenges to saving money as a college student. But that said, there are also all sorts of cool opportunities that only college students have. I’ll be sharing those methods in this post. For example, did you know that students get access to all sorts of cool discounts, both within and outside the campus? And did you know that never in your life will you have so many companies eager to give you freebies? Well, now you do!

College is a challenging time, but it also has tons of opportunities. You gotta cash in and capitalize on these opportunities. In this post, I’ll be listing down methods to save money in college. Let’s do this!

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You’ve got student discounts – use ‘em!

I liked to joke with my former roommates that the best times for discounts is when you’re a student and when you’re a senior citizen. Since it’ll be a long time before you become senior citizens, let’s cover student discounts… and there are lots of them! You would be totally remiss (I just recently learned that word, lol) to not use your student discounts to its full advantage.

I’m not from one of those fancy ivy league universities, but even my campus ID gave me some pretty surprising discounts. On-campus, I got discounts on computer maintenance, campus gym memberships, as well as the school infirmary.

Off-campus is where it gets interesting. I learned that fast food joints and coffee shops near my school usually give discounts when you show them your ID. You can even get pretty steep student discounts from mobile carriers, insurance companies, and even applications to graduate school. The key is to always be on the lookout for these things. And when you do find an available discount, pounce on it!

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Use a debit card instead of credit card

Credit cards used to be the bane of my existence. When I became hard-up for cash, I got a credit card thinking it would help me. And it did, for a while. But the problem with credit cards is that they’re pretty tempting to use. You should use your credit card for emergencies, but it’s also easy to use it for impulse shopping.

When you use a credit card, it doesn’t feel like you’re using real money. The money you’re spending is pretty abstract… but that money magically becomes concrete when your bill comes the following month!

In a perfect world, I’d say don’t get a credit card. But I know credit cards are necessary. So here’s a good middle-ground solution: get a debit card instead. Debit cards function like credit cards… minus the crippling debt, that is. You need to load debit cards with cash, like an ATM card. In fact, most debit cards also double as ATM cards. With a debit card, you get credit card functionality, but you’re forced to use real money. Using real money will force you to be more mindful of your spending habits and make smarter financial decisions.

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Double-check your school’s payables

Look, I’m not saying schools set out to rip you off intentionally. But you need to pay a closer look at your billing statement when it arrives. I’ve noticed a few discrepancies in the last few years of college. The first was a fee for a lab session I never took part in. Then there were a few dollars penalty for a library book that I returned on time. And I even once got surcharged for paying last semester’s tuition late… even if I always pay on time! To be fair, these were all honest mistakes, and the accounting office fixed them as soon as I brought it up. But these mistakes have happened often enough that each time I get my billing statement, I whip out my glasses and look closely at all the items listed down. If you get the wrong break-down and pay for it, that’s pretty much lost money. You can ask for an adjustment from the accounting office, but what they usually do at my school is deduct the excess from my next bill. That sucks!

So learn from experiences. I’m sure your university is completely legit. But you know, mistakes do happen. And it’s best to stay on top of things and have them correct any mistakes before it becomes too big a hassle to deal with them.

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Freebies, freebies everywhere!

In my campus, brands love to set up stalls and hand out free samples. I loved those! I once walked back to my dorm with several sandwiches’ worth of free deli meats. Another time it was grooming products. These companies like to hand out samples for free promotion. And we college students definitely benefit!

A few establishments around your campus will probably have special student freebies. I know the places in my area do. During finals, a popular diner here will give free unlimited coffee refills to students burning the midnight lamp. A print shop even offers free resume printing for new job hunters. I don’t think we’ll ever get this much freebies in other parts of our lives, so load up!

Job fairs are particularly good times to get some freebies. Companies are usually eager to give out corporate swag even if you don’t actually apply. I’ve gotten pens, tote bags, USB drives, umbrellas, notepads, even a shot glass, from company booths. Those items were actually pretty useful.

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Live frugally

I get it; cutting down on expenses sucks. But many of us have no choice. Cutting down on expenses is literally a matter of life and death. To help you cut down on the non-necessities, I suggest a change in perspective: money saved is money earned for a later day. I like to keep repeating that to myself when I get tempted to splurge on something I don’t really need. It worked for me, and I hope it works for you!

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