Well over 50% of college students struggle financially and many drop out due to not being able to afford it. Most kids were not taught proper money management and it shows when they graduate (or don’t) and have over $30,000 in student loan debt. That is the average amount of student debt. Great way to start your life, $30,000 in debt. I wish I could say these 10 tips will leave you debt free but that’s not the case. They could knock off thousands from the crazy number up there though. So without further or do, here are 10 ways to save money while in college!
Pay as much as you can in the beginning before taking out loans
Before each semester starts, look at what you owe. See if you can knock any off the top. Right now I am at a two-year community college so my fees are less. I still owe, but it’s not as overwhelming of an amount as it will be when I transfer to a four-year university. After my scholarships are applied each semester, I look at the amount and decide if I can pay the amount as well as my textbooks or if I need to take out a loan or do a payment plan. (I highly recommend doing a payment plan if you are able, opposed to taking out student loans. Some colleges let you pay in more payments the better your grades are). I am still living at home so I am able to save more of my paycheck specifically for school. This Fall semester cost me about $800 out of pocket (for 12 credit hours and after scholarships) and the Spring semester will cost me about $700. I didn’t love seeing my saving account go down, but I am done with three semesters of college and do not owe anything at the moment.
Apply for scholarships
There are seriously hundreds of thousands of scholarships that you probably meet the criteria for. Google scholarships, talk to the counselors at your college. There is so much money out there for college students. You just have to be willing to spend the time looking and applying. I opened an account with a bank just so I could apply for their scholarship. I only had to put 5 dollars in it and received a scholarship for $250. That may not seem like much but that times 8 semesters is $2,000! I also sent in a scholarship application to my college and received a $600 foundation scholarship. I didn’t even apply for it. I just submitted an essay and was accepted for that particular one! All of these little scholarships add up and end up saving you so much money.
Sell stuff you don’t need
I’m serious. You probably have at least several hundred dollars worth of stuff in your room that you don’t need. Get on Facebook Marketplace, get on eBay, have a garage sale, take clothes to stores like Plato’s Closet, download those apps like Poshmark and ThredUP. A few dollars here and there adds up fast. And it’s way easier than it seems. You can post a picture of a pair of shoes on Facebook and if they are priced well, you’ll probably have a message within a few minutes. We all have stuff that we no longer use or wear or want and instead of just taking up space, sell them!
Get a roommate
First things first, research living options. Living on campus might be free to you, or it may be twice as much as you would spend on an apartment. Weigh your options. Can you live at home? It’s not always ideal but saving up that extra money that would go to things like rent and utilities, could go towards your tuition and books. If you are living on campus, having a roommate or two or three, saves you way more than a single room. Same goes for apartments. Having a roommate cuts costs by a lot. And honestly, living with you best friend(s)? Sounds pretty awesome.
Easier said than done, I know. But learning how to save here and there helps a lot in the long run. This is where budgeting comes in. You can give yourself a limit for the week or the month or however long you want. Tell yourself you aren’t allowed to spend more than this on things like going out to eat with friends or shopping. If you find it easy to stay in that limit, try cutting it back a little the next month. You really have to look at the big picture here. Yeah, a $5 coffee doesn’t seem like much. But if you’re getting one 3-5 times a week, that averages $80 a month. That could fill my gas tank up three times or get me groceries or help with my car insurance! I am someone who could easily get a $5 coffee everyday, but I’ve learned to cut way back because I look at the big picture.
Ask for student discounts
Some stores and restaurants actually offer student discounts! The list is too long for me to even type out, so I’ll just let you Google that one yourself. But the ones that do offer a discount, usually offer 10%-15% off!
Don’t buy things all at once
What I mean by this is, a lot of students wait to buy things they need until right before they move into an apartment or house or dorm. Try to think ahead. Ask for things for birthdays or Christmas. All the little expenses add up. Towels, silverware, cleaning supplies, bedding, etc.. It doesn’t seem like you’ll be spending that much but it will add up fast. Trust me.
Get a Keurig
I’m going to go ahead and assume that most college students drink coffee. Probably even those that don’t like it. I know that I rely on it heavily during midterm week, finals week, and every 8am class that we all dread. I could easily go to my favorite coffee shop every day and buy a coffee. I’ll say it again, easily. But I would be even more broke then I already am. So get a Keurig or a coffee pot. Really anything you can use to make coffee. I’ll admit, it’s never as good. But it’s coffee and it saves me a lot of money.
Cook yourself food
I think this one is really important. I would suggest going through your purchases from recent months and add up how much money you spent on food. I did this recently and was shocked by how much I spend at restaurants. I love going to lunch or dinner with friends, so I’m not saying to never eat out. But the McDonald’s trip you take every week to “save time” adds up fast. Let’s be honest, you normally wait in line for at least 5 minutes anyway. I think you could easily make a sandwich in 5 minutes. Groceries last so long, especially if they’re just for one person. You can eat good food and go out with friends while still cutting back on spending.
This is such an easy way to get money. I often rent textbooks because it’s the cheapest option. Butttttt, if you buy a textbook and then sell it, you’re actually saving the most money. My college sends out a list of buy back books and will buy your old textbooks. It won’t be for as much as you could probably get off of Amazon, but it’s still money. Back when my dad was in college he would actually reach out to classmates at the end of each semester and offer to buy their books from them and then would sell them online for a profit! It really is easy money. A lot of college students search hard to find the best deal for their textbooks!
After reading through these tips, do you plan on implementing any of them?
I hope you were able to take something away from this post. Saving money while in college is important if you want to avoid drowning in debt at the age of 23. Even just doing a couple of these will surprise you when you see your savings account. I think we can all agree, every college student could use a few extra bucks.