30 Ways to Save Money in College

Posted in General Finance by Kevin | Tags: , , ,

College can be a difficult time financially for many students. Most students have heavy course loads which make it difficult to work and maintain good grades.  Almost every successful college graduate can look back and remember the time when they were “starving students.” If you have looked through all the available loans, grants, and scholarships and are still finding it difficult to save money, this list may be for you.

Money Management Tips:

  1. Get a free checking and savings account. Make sure you shop for a bank that can cater to student and doesn’t have any hidden fees. Also, be sure you can check your account online for additional charge.
  2. Keep track of the money in your checking account to avoid ugly overdraft fees, starting from $30 per charge. Banks won’t decline your card, they will just charge you for going over your balance.
  3. If you need a credit card, make sure you get one with the lowest interest rate possible and no annual fees or membership charges, build your credit by using your credit card for small purchases and raising the limit in case of an emergency.
  4. Pay credit card bills on time. Credit card companies might charge you up to $50 for late payments and lower your credit score, making it harder for you to get newer credit cards and raise the totals on current ones.
  5. Try to avoid wasteful spending habits by keeping track of all expenses.

Food and Drink

  1. If you live on campus and pay for a meal plan, then use it wisely. Some programs don’t restrict you from taking some things to go or setting a limit on the number of meals you can have per day.
  2. If you have to drink coffee everyday, don’t waste it at Starbucks or Coffee Bean. Making it yourself can save you almost $100 a month.
  3. Collect coupons from local newspapers and follow the weekly sales at the grocery store. Buy when the prices are low.  Avoid high-end markets like Trader Joe’s if you want to save big money. Read our article on Grocery Spending for more information.
  4. If you are on a date, it’s better if you set up something romantic at home that’s affordable and cozy rather than going out and spending extra money.
  5. Avoid sit down restaurants with larger groups or else you’re going to have to pay extra for other people’s binge eating habits.
  6. If you need alcohol, buy the cheap stuff. Also, buy in large quantities to reduce cost per drink. Don’t spend extra money at bars and clubs.
  7. Never order alcohol at restaurants, where the average markup is up to 3x the regular price!


  1. Ask your friends or classmates if they have taken the class already, chances are someone has an extra book lying around you can use.
  2. Buy Online from used college textbooks websites. Half.com, eCampus, Valore Books, and Amazon all come to mind. I’ve personally bought some of my books that cost $150 for less than $20 bucks online. Shipping included.
  3. International editions are very cost effective (if a few Chinese characters in the front page don’t bother you).


  1. If you are paying for cable, you’re wasting your money. Read our article on websites that offer all your favorite shows, sports and movies,
  2. If you have to go to the theater, go early in the day and catch the matinee showings, which are considerably cheaper than the night times.
  3. Get an online subscription to Netflix or the likes, split it with a trusted roommate, friend, or sweetheart.
  4. Use study groups help keep you focused on getting an education, while at the same time, you get to have fun with your peers. This way, you succeed academically and can still enjoy a social life.
  5. Spending money on video games? Play online through the countless free websites that offer online games.


  1. Use your student discounts wisely. Apple and Dell both offer great student discounts for personal computers.
  2. So you want a laptop? You don’t have to dish out 2 grand for a Sony Vaio, you can always get a less expensive brand with a great manufucaturer warranty for a fraction of the cost. Save your receipts.
  3. Buy a PC. First of all, PC’s are more powerful, faster, and have larger hard drives. Also, they are much much cheapier than notebooks.
  4. If you’re going to spend money on computer programs, try to see if there s a similar freeware or shareware version available. If you absolutely have to buy it, most software companies offer very large discounts to students with proper idenitification. Think Windows Office for $50. Plus, its legal.
  5. Be careful where you leave your laptop, Ipod, or cellular phone. There are other students that need them and won’t hesitate to steal.

Make Money

  1. One way to fatten your wallet during your college career is to tutor. If you’re a senior and you know someone that is struggling with a class, offer to tutor them for 15-20 bucks an hour. Post out fliers, contact your school newspaper or tell your friends about your services.
  2. Get a job in the food industry. Not only will you get money, but you will also get free food.
  3. Save up money during the summer so your school year can be more comfortable.
  4. Volunteer for a paid research positional or a medical study. These tend to pay quite well in proportion to the amount of work done.
  5. Sell your field of expertise: If you’re an English major, offer to correct your friends’ research papers or Essays for a small price. If you’re a scientist, tutor the unlucky liberal arts junkie down the hall taking Stats. The list goes on.

These are some of the many ways a college student can save money and live comfortably. If you’re a parent or a family member of someone in college, offer them these tips. Chances are, they will learn a few things!

2 Comments to “30 Ways to Save Money in College”

  • This is a very nice post, there are so many ways to save money while your in colege and there are so many ways to blow your money. One of the biggest problems I have is going out to eat regularly. This begins to really add up and before you know it your spending a $1000 each month at restaurants. Home cooked meals are the way to go if you want your money to last as long as possible. Thanks for the great info!

  • Such a wonderful post to say the least. Each and every point that you mentioned above is necessary to save money while being in college. Personally I feel that using canteen and pantry causes the wastage of money. Specially if you go for having dishes from pantry on a regular basis, then it makes the situation worse. Personally I used to carry lunch box and sometimes even breakfast in my college days to avoid extra expenditure. Online making money one of the best idea to earn at your teenage. I simply adore it. Great post!

Subscribe for E-mail Updates

Enter your email address:


New on SmarterSpend

Hot Topix

The Library