There is this stigma that has existed for a long time now that basically lumps all college students as broke people that rely solely on ramen noodles to function. And as true as it may sound, it isn’t entirely accurate.
The real truth is; a lot of college students are basically in a category of struggling. That is, they aren’t necessarily broke, but are certainly not stable enough financially to afford a lot of things.
Given my experience(s) being a college student, I currently have the opportunity of escaping the popular group of “broke college students” which doesn’t necessarily require me to get a full-time job or start my own small business. All it really requires is a little bit of planning and making wise decisions.
Some of these wise decisions are usually what a lot of we college students tend to ignore, and the sooner we realize how necessary it is, the quicker college life becomes less of a hassle.
So for today’s post, I decided to show/teach you guys a few secrets I have used that has helped me save money in college. I will be spilling a lot of deets here, so better grab a pen and a paper and let’s get talking.
How To Save Money In College
1.) Live off campus… like seriously..
Living on campus is just a way of telling your college to zap out every inch of your bank account to provide you with the most uncomfortable living situation. Sure you get to meet a lot of people and make quite a ton of friends living on campus, but the cost is definitely not worth it for the intention of trying to make friends.
Some colleges, however, require incoming freshmen to spend at least 1 academic year on campus before making a decision to move off campus. If that sounds like your college, great. But the moment that one academic year runs out, be sure to have already found an off-campus apartment to live.
Paying rent might seem like a burden, but trust me, in the long run, you save money in college living in an apartment complex as compared to your average dorm.
How to make apartment living cheap
Share with a ton of friends.
But be sure you share your place with people you financially trust. You definitely don’t want to have that one friend that continuously remains late on bills.
Living further from campus.
Sometimes living further from your campus vicinity can save you quite a few dollars per month. Apartment complexes built around fewer attraction areas tend to cut down on living costs.
Sign your lease during deals.
Most apartments have deals usually offered around certain times of the year, so be sure to jump on it as soon as you find one.
Make sure that you’re very much aware of utilities before signing leases. Sometimes utilities could add a ton to your monthly bill, so be on the look-out for that.
Choose unfurnished apartments.
Furnished apartments tend to cost a lot more money, so stick to buying your own furniture. You could check out your local thrift stores that could save you a couple of dollar bills.
Live with your parents if you still can.
I have a couple of friends who chose to commute by living in their parent’s homes, and so far, they’ve saved a whole lot more on living costs than I have in my current apartment. It might seem uncomfortable living with your parents while in college, but if you want to really save money, you gotta do what you gotta do.
2.) Don’t buy books from the bookstore
You probably have already been told to never purchase books at the bookstore, and here’s the reason why. Bookstores are usually priced a lot higher than books purchased online. So before you think of looking for a book at the bookstore, be sure to have already done a ton of research at other online stores.
How to save money on books
Buy a digital copy.
You may not like this option especially if you tend to like hard copies of books, but digital does save you a lot more than the average hard copy text. I personally download all my books to my iPad and save a huge ton of money per semester on books.
Stick to rental options.
Renting tends to be a lot cheaper than buying, which can save you a couple bucks in the long run
Resell old books.
There’s probably someone on your campus who might need an old book of yours, so instead of allowing it accumulate dust on your shelf, sell it off and use the extra cash to repurchase current books. Talk about recycling!
Go to your school’s library.
Some campus libraries have some free rental options for students who qualify. You just never know what your options are until you ask. So be sure to check your school’s library to see their available options for getting free textbooks.
Buy older editions.
Sometimes a newer edition of a book doesn’t necessarily differ in content from the older version. Skip the upgrade and save yourself some cash.
3.) Avoid eating out frequently
You might not be the perfect chef out there, but eating out on a consistent basis can make you spend a lot of your savings pretty quickly. Plus, it’s actually very unhealthy to eat out on a consistent basis.
How to save money eating out
Buy a cookbook.
If there’s a particular meal you love to order in on a consistent basis, try buying a cookbook and learning the recipe by heart. That way you wouldn’t feel the need to always order out when you could make it in the comfort of your home. There are countless tutorials out there that can teach you a ton of recipes, so make sure you do a thorough research to see which options might interest you. I do post a couple of recipes HERE on my blog once in a while, so you could check it out if you’re interested.
Look for coupons.
Scan through your mailbox or online and find yourself some great coupons you could use at your favorite restaurants. There are coupons flying around the internet, don’t be late on them before it expires.
Pick two days a week.
If you really can’t adjust to the lifestyle of not eating out, try picking two days in a week to satisfy your cravings. Once you’ve adjusted, switch to eating out once a week. Before you know it, you might not eat out as often anymore.
4.) Don’t overspend on groceries
If you’re going to avoid eating out, then you most definitely have to avoid overspending on groceries. Grocery stores are the definition of temptation, and if you aren’t good at resisting temptation, you might find yourself in a bit of a shopping spree when it comes to picking groceries.
How to save money on grocery shopping
Use the Ibotta App before you even head to the store.
This app has been a LIFESAVER for me because you can earn cash backs just by shopping. There’s pretty much every popular grocery store on the app you could use to find cash backs, so don’t sleep on it. I personally like to open Ibotta before even heading to the store just to see what I’m likely to put on my checklist in order to earn cash backs. Talk about a win-win situation!
Set a budget and don’t ever skip this step.
Walking into a grocery store without a budget in mind can throw you into a hole of constant unnecessary spending. So plan before you leave. If you’re going to spend 50 bucks, then stick to making sure all your items fall within the budget range.
Always ask yourself “Do I really need this?”.
Before you pick up that item or put it down on your checklist, be sure to ask yourself If you REALLY need it. Sometimes our minds drive us into picking items we want and not necessarily need, so always be sure to ask yourself the same question for every (and I mean EVERY) item you plan on purchasing.
Coupons are everywhere, you just have to search for them. Open your mailbox and I bet you would be surprised by how much you can save on groceries with coupons. You could also use Groupon which is another great place to find a ton of coupons.
Never go grocery shopping while feeling hungry.
I have been a victim of this mistake, and believe me when I tell you it wasn’t fun. When you’re hungry and you are in the presence of a ton of food, you tend to crave whatever your eyes catch which can lead you to spend unnecessarily. Be sure to eat at home before heading to the grocery store.
Split your grocery costs if you have a roommate.
You might have a few items you share with your roommate on a consistent basis, use that opportunity to discuss with your roommate about splitting costs. That way you both save money on things you need.
5.) Keep your coins
Remember that 1 cent coin you completely through to the back seat of your car? Well, you might need to go pick that up and put it somewhere safe. Coins might seem pretty irrelevant, but when they add up together, they do make you rich. Well….. not soo rich, but you get the point.
Get a cheap piggy bank, or use an old container you already have in your home and start throwing in some coins. By the end of the year, you would be surprised by how much you’ve saved.
6.) Try opening a savings account.
There may come a time in your college life when you might earn or receive a little bit more income aside from the little coins you’ve saved up. It could be in the form of a side job, refund check, side hustle, or even the lottery (lol). Whichever the case may be, just be sure to have a savings account available to keep all that money. Don’t jump into the habit of over-spending because you have it. Instead, try to think of the future and what you may intend to do with all that money. Maybe loans to pay off, a house to buy, a business that needs capital, etc. Just don’t spend it YET.
I recommend still going about your daily money-making routine and acting like that savings account doesn’t even exist. Because I can assure you that one day, those savings would help you towards something a lot more profitable.
7.) Use your student status to your advantage
Why spend 14 bucks on a movie ticket when you could pay 8 bucks with your student ID? Don’t be afraid to bring out your ID whenever you’re in public places to ask for a discount. You just never know what opportunities for savings you may receive.Why spend 14 bucks on a movie ticket when you could pay 8 bucks with your student ID? Don't be afraid to bring out your ID whenever you're in public places to ask for a discount. Click To Tweet
Car dealers, movies theaters, insurance companies, apartments, hotels, flights and many organizations tend to offer some sort of student discount especially around back to school season, so you definitely want to be on the lookout whenever you possibly can.
8.) Give up Starbucks
The lines at on-campus star-bucks tend to be ridiculously long because of college students unconditional love for coffee. If only we could just buy our own damn coffee maker and make the process a whole lot cheaper and faster. Before I started saving money as a student, I had to come to a realization of where most of my spending was coming from. I noticed that I was spending roughly $120 a month on just Starbucks coffee alone. That’s a lot, especially for someone who pays a ton of monthly bills.
I had to sacrifice my love for Starbucks and just buy a coffee maker. The Starbucks menu recipes were not hard to find online, and before I knew it, I was already making my own homemade Starbucks coffee. It also gave me the opportunity to experiment with all types of latte, and believe me, I haven’t craved Starbucks for the longest time.
9.) Ditch all your paid subscriptions
If you haven’t used your active subscription for at least two months, chances are, you’re probably not going to end up using it in the long run. Paid subscriptions do add up with time. It might seem like a small amount in the meantime, but it does tend to add up a lot, especially if you have a ton of active subscriptions. And this tends to hurt the way you save money in college.
How to save money on subscriptions
Try sharing subscription plans with a couple of friends.
If you love Netflix soo much, find another person who loves it as much as you do and share the same subscription. That way you don’t pay the full cost of the plan by yourself.
Google cast over cable.
My boyfriend introduced me to google cast, and I never went back to cable EVER again. I basically just cast all my favorite TV shows straight from my cell phone to my TV, and never have to worry about missing out. Most cable providers these days have their shows available on youtube for viewers to subscribe to, so if that sounds like something you’re interested in, I’d say go for it. Plus, it’s free!
If you have pill prescriptions, try asking your local pharmacy for any available discount programs they offer. I’ve saved a lot on my pill prescription at Walgreens by simply enrolling in their saving program which cost me roughly 20 bucks a year.
Pandora over Apple Music.
I love Apple Music, but if I can listen to my favorite artist radio for free elsewhere, I might just stick to that option. Don’t let music subscriptions add more unnecessary bills to your bank account monthly, stick to free options.
Hope you guys found some of these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments some other tips you currently use to save money in college
Till next time;