5 Tips to Save Money as a College Student

Saving money as a college student is extremely important. College is often the first time many students live independently and manage their finances. As a result, it is also the time that may seem most free but burdensome.

Developing good saving and budgeting habits now will benefit you for years.

Here are 5 tips to help you save money as a college student and make the whole experience as smooth as can be. 

Tips to Save Money as a College Student

  • Create a Budget
  • Minimize Your Living Expenses
  • Be a Smart Shopper
  • Increase Your Income
  • Learn to Live Below Your Means

Create a Budget

If you need to save money you must first see where you are spending it. It can be very easy to let all your money go when you don’t remind yourself how much you have already spent.

Track your income and expenses, from tuition payments to groceries and entertainment. Are there any needs or wants you can reduce?  Set a budget for different categories like food, entertainment, and transportation, and stick to it.

Prioritize your expenses to the most necessary and minimize those you can live without. It might be difficult to cut off luxuries permanently, but please try to limit them to what you can afford. 

Minimize Your Living Expenses

Housing costs are typically a college student’s biggest expense. Consider living off-campus with roommates to share costs. Make sure, though, that it is within a safe area.

To avoid transportation fees, look for an apartment close to campus. Many apartments exist near universities solely for students and may even often offer special discounts for you! Instead of a meal plan, cook your meals using low-cost ingredients like rice, beans, and in-season produce.

Take advantage of all the free resources on your campus, from recreational facilities and events to career and health services. Check what you’re already paying in your tuition fee.

If food transportation is included, be sure not to spend out of pocket and utilize the services given to you by your school. 

Be a Smart Shopper

Buy used or older edition textbooks whenever possible to avoid high college bookstore prices. Remember, the content is all the same. You might even learn more with written notes on the side from other students.

Always ask about student discounts when shopping or dining out; many stores offer 10-20% off for students. You might find these especially near universities where restaurants want to increase student crowns.

To cut costs, shop for essentials like toiletries, cleaning supplies, and non-perishable foods in bulk. Compare prices both in stores and online before making any non-essential purchase. 

Increase Your Income

As a college student, increasing your income will allow you to spend more while maintaining a balanced budget and, if applicable, even lower the burden on your parents.

Get a part-time job for extra money; many flexible options exist for students, like retail work, restaurant serving, tutoring, or freelancing.

Try to find tutoring jobs on campus only so you can spend less on transportation or fuel. Sell unwanted items online or participate in paid online surveys in your spare time for easy cash.

Consider monetizing a hobby or skill by starting a small business, driving for a rideshare service, or freelancing. What are some of your hobbies? See if you can commission art pieces for people around you if it’s art. 

Learn to Live Below Your Means

Adopting a frugal mindset is key to living below your means as a college student. Of course, you first need to learn how to live below your means; you can only spend money on the things you need, like housing, food, and tuition.

Look for free or low-cost entertainment options in your area. Avoid impulse purchases and shop with a list. A great rip that people often give while shopping is to never grocery shop while you’re hungry because you’ll probably want to buy everything, and more often than not, you will!

Buy generic or second-hand items whenever you can. Preloved clothing or thrift stores are all the rage lately, and it would be smart for you to jump on the bandwagon as well.

Finding cute outfits can often be difficult, but what’s the harm in trying? Learn to prioritize needs over wants, and you’ll save money without thinking about it.


Of course, no one likes to have a very minimum amount for them to spend. But as a new adult, it’s good to have experience with budgeting. Yes, it might seem a little too complicated at the start but you will learn to manage.

You can even make this fun by improving your organizational and financial skills. Do these 5 tips to make your college experience both fun and practical so that you can avoid having many financial issues in the future. 

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