I recently talked about various ways to make money in college. Today I am going to help you with how to save money in college. It’s no secret that getting by financially in college is tough.I know because I went through 4 years of getting by on close to nothing. In fact, many of these tips for how to save money in college are things I would do to save money.
Below are 15 ways for how to save money in college. Use them all or just pick a couple to start saving money today!
15 Ways For How To Save Money In College
#1. Car Pool
Gas costs money. The less you drive, the more you will save. So, make it a point to carpool with others that have cars. Take turns driving to the mall or the grocery store to save gas and money. To take things even further, enroll in online courses to minimize the amount of time that you will spend in a car.
If you can take the majority of your courses online from the comfort of your own home, you will not have to worry about paying for gas when driving to your classes or parking once you arrive.
Even those who are working towards an advanced degree, such as a MA in Economics or a MS in Nutrition Education can take advantage of online learning and save some money on the cost of commuting in the process.
#2. Buy Groceries In Bulk
Buying in bulk can save you a good amount of money. The only catch is to make sure that a bulk deal really is a deal. Some items are worth it. I would shop at Costco a few times a year. I primarily bought cans of green beans and other non-perishable items that I knew would last me and take my dollar farther.
Over the years, I’ve figured out some great ways to save a ton of money at Costco.
#3. Buy Used Textbooks
Unless the textbook is a brand new edition, you should always be buying a textbook used. The price of new textbooks is outrageous. Save your money and buy used. Sometimes you’ll even get lucky and get a copy with good notes in the margin and key parts of the text highlighted.
#4. Rent Textbooks
This wasn’t around when I was in college, but I would be making use of it if it was. For any course you take that isn’t related to your major, I would encourage you to rent a textbook. Why not rent books in your major? Sometimes, it is a great book and you want to keep it. For this reason, buy used books for your major and rent everything else. The savings will be substantial.
#5. Buy Generic
You don’t need name brand groceries while in college or even after college. The store brand versions of food have come a long way. I would buy store brand cereal and couldn’t tell the difference. Same thing goes for frozen vegetables. Give it a try, you’ll be surprised at how good they are.
#6. Buy Used
When furnishing your dorm or apartment, buy used. You don’t need a brand new sofa. You are a poor college student. I can still remember a blue recliner we had my sophomore year. It was the most comfortable recliner I have ever sat in. I would give anything for that blue chair today!
The same can be said for your clothes. Hit up the thrift store. I did this in college and got some great t-shirts and dress shirts for dirt cheap.
#7. Ask For A Discount
You don’t need to be in college to ask for a discount, but you might have better success if they know you are a poor college student. Just ask if there are any discounts. I do this still today and usually get 5-10% off my purchase. It’s not a huge savings, but it’s better than paying full price.
#8. Use Your College ID
Your college ID is powerful. It offers you tons of discounts. All you have to do is show it when you are buying things. I was getting $2 off movies during the summer when I was back home, simply by showing my college ID. Many events and exhibits offer discounts to college students as well. You just have to ask and show your ID.
#9. Pay Attention
Even easier that the two ideas above is to just pay attention. In fact, of all the tricks for how to save money in college, this could be the only trick you use. You’d be amazed at how much money you can save.
There was a discount movie theater where I went to college. I found out one time when seeing a movie that if I go on a Tuesday night, the movies are only $0.50! These aren’t old movies either, they are the ones that were released a few months ago. I probably saved close to $200 by making it a point to go to the movies on a Tuesday night.
The savings don’t end there though. I found out that the pizza shop offered a deal on Wednesday nights. You could get a pizza for $5 instead of the usual $12. Plus, I could use my college ID and save another dollar off that. Trust me, pay attention and you will be amazed at how much you can save.
Lastly, I had a roommate that worked at Taco Bell. He would close the store on Sunday nights. Instead of throwing out the food that was left and didn’t sell, he would bring it home for us. We’d reheat it for lunch on Monday.
#10. Take Advantage of Specials
Everyone offers specials. You just have to take advantage of them. If you are going out to eat dinner, go early (or late) when appetizers are half price. Then just eat those and don’t order a main course.
My roommate and I would wait until Olive Garden would offer their “never ending pasta bowl”. We would go and order pasta at regular price and then pay the additional $4.95 for unlimited pasta. We usually got 3 or 4 bowls worth and anything that was left over, we brought home for dinner the next day.
#11. Become A Resident Assistant
Colleges even help you with how to save money in college. You can apply to become a resident assistant on campus. What this means is that you are the point of contact if students have any issues on the dorm floor or apartment building you are in. You make sure everything and everyone stays in line too. For doing this job, you typically get free room and board for the year you are a resident assistant.
#12. Move Off Campus
Depending on where you go to college, it might make sense to move off campus when you can to save money. I did this my junior year with a friend. Rent for a two bedroom apartment across the street from campus was $525 a month. We split it in half and each paid $262.50. Even after taking into account the rent and utilities, we still came out thousands ahead from what the college was charging for room and board.
I know you want to go away for Spring Break but if you choose to stay back and volunteer or get a head start on an internship, you are going to put yourself miles ahead of the competition come graduation. I’m not saying you should never go away on Spring Break, but you need not go every year.
#14. Live Within Your Means
This should be obvious, but with average debt being over $230,000 not many people are living within their means. If you can do this, you will save yourself thousands of dollars in interest charges.
Having a credit card is great to build up your credit history, but use it wisely. You don’t need brand new everything and everything you see isn’t a need. Most are wants. Learn to delay purchases.
I know you aren’t thinking about your long-term future now, but if you are smart with your money now, when your friends are complaining about trying to get by financially in 10-15 years, you can smile knowing that you are on solid financial ground.
#15. Research Grants and Scholarships
Even when you are in college, you can still obtain grants and scholarships. Take some time to do research to see if there are any that you qualify for. You never know when you might be awarded a few hundred dollars. The internet and your college library are great places to start your search.
On a related note, if you are repaying your student loans, you can refinance them and save a ton of money. This free resource lets you see just how much you can save.
How to save money in college is much easier than you think. The best advice I can give is to just take your time before buying anything and think things through. Do you really need it? Will it benefit you? Will it put you further behind financially? Is there another way to get the item cheaper?
The more questions you can ask yourself, the greater the chances of you finding ways to save money.