How to Save Money in College

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Everyone has heard the stereotypical story of the poor undergraduate student who lives on coffee and instant noodles. However, just because you're a student in college doesn't mean you have to be penniless. Starting responsible spending habits early on can help you reach your financial goals and enhance your college experience.

Rising living expenses and tuition make it increasingly challenging to budget while in college. The idea of saving money while enrolled in college may seem impossible, but it's not! Below are exclusive money-saving tips and tricks to help make your money last.

Oh, and guess what? You won't be needing instant noodles! Keep reading to learn how to save money in college and become financially savvy.

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How to Make Money in College

Before you can save money, you must have money to save! Below are some tips on how to earn money while pursuing higher education.

Part-Time Work

A job is a stable source of income and an on or off-campus job is the quickest way to earn money. A part-time job will allow you some freedom by making extra cash to help with books, food, and other living expenses while being able to fit your shifts around your school schedule.

Sell Your Old Textbooks for Extra Money

Sell your old books once you no longer need them. Remember that you will not get back what you originally paid, but something is better than nothing - especially if the books take up shelf space. Each outlet for selling books will have its own guidelines for determining a book's worth. Do your research to determine the most lucrative avenue for selling your books!

Turn Your Hobby Into a Side Hustle

What are your hobbies? When you have a side hustle, you are the one who keeps the profits. Identify potential business ideas that best suit you, like painting or knitting. Then showcase your art or other products or services online, amongst peers, and even at local farmer's markets and begin hustling!

Make Your Money Work

Investing is essential. Investing certainly sounds like something only older people do; however, you can never start too early. Investing at a younger age gives your money more time to grow. Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are examples of assets that you can invest in. You can speak with a broker, financial planner, or investment advisor to learn more. You can even start investing money for retirement! Your future self will thank you for starting to invest now.

Check out How to Make Money in College for inspirational ideas to earn money!


How Much Money Do You Need to Save in College?

"A penny saved is a penny earned" - Benjamin Franklin. Remember this motto when deciding how much money you should save in college. This mentality helps you think twice before purchasing your double-shot espresso from your favorite coffee shop multiple times a week.

Saving your money is a no-brainer, but really, how much do you need to save while in college?

Each person's financial situation is different, and the amount you choose to save is solely up to you. There's no doubt that college is expensive, and what little money is left over after tuition, fees, and school supplies is usually left to pay other living expenses, leaving little room to save. However, when calculating your costs against your profits, you can see where to save money by deciding what expenses aren't necessary.

Additionally, it would help if you considered the importance of an emergency fund. It is reassuring knowing that you have money kept away in case something unexpected occurs. Generally, having an emergency fund keeps stress levels down, keeps you from spending on a whim, and keeps you from making irresponsible financial decisions.

How Much Does College Cost is a helpful resource to better understand the costs of college.


Best Ways to Save Money as a College Student

While in school, self-control can make a big difference and help you cut unnecessary expenses.

Forget the lavish vacation on spring break and instead get ahead on school assignments. Do you really need to vacay away from your college every single holiday you are offered? The reality is no. While college is a great time to try new things and go to new places, it's important to find a balance between going out and staying in so you're able to be financially secure. You can even save your cash for a fun trip after you graduate; what better way to celebrate than on the beach with your toes in the sand?

Online banking is easy to navigate while in college and helps manage money, but what type of bank account should you get? Some banks charge fees or require a minimum balance; however, as a student, there are some perks with certain banks. Many banks offer no monthly maintenance fees or overdraft fees and even mobile check deposits. It's essential while you're in college to have a bank account that will not charge you late fees or maintenance fees or require a minimum balance. You may not be able to keep the minimum required balance in your checking account. So, look for free savings accounts, online banking, and student benefits.

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Another critical part of saving money is being practical about your methods of transportation. Why pay for a Lyft when you can use other public transportation that costs way less? Getting around by subway or bus will cost much less than driving your own car or riding in a taxi. Even if you don't have access to public transportation, you can ride share with friends or look for a place to stay that's close to campus.

Need some clothes? Score high-quality goods at thrift stores at low prices! These stores reduce waste as people cycle through gently worn garments. This is a great way to get new affordable clothes while not compromising on the environment's health. You can even sell the clothes you no longer wear online or at thrift stores to put some cash in your pocket. If you don't have any thrift stores near you, consider shopping online for second-hand clothing or seek out student discounts if you have your eye on something at the mall.

Scholarships are a great way to save money in college. Browse through's scholarships now to see what awards you are qualified for!


How to Save Money on College Textbooks

There is always required material for any course you take on the syllabus. This means school supplies such as books are necessary but buying them new is not. Sure, you can visit your campus bookstore, but new textbooks are outrageously priced most of the time.

Purchasing used textbooks is a great way to save on college books. Finding used books on the Facebook marketplace, Amazon or other online sources are great ways to save money in college. Used textbooks save you hundreds of dollars you could use elsewhere or keep in your savings account. Moreover, renting books is often a cheaper route than purchasing them. You can even buy or rent used books from other students at your school who have taken the classes you're about to start.

Once you're done using the books, you can sell them! Despite the low return on investment, an extra hundred dollars can make a big difference for those struggling financially. Besides, do you really need to keep your heavy, dust-collecting psychology textbook if it isn't your major?

Additionally, you can share textbooks and readings with other students in your class. Better yet, visit the library, where you can access many e-books for free or download and print the material you need.

How to Save Money on Food as a College Student

Spending money on food is essential to human life, so you may wonder how you can save money on food without compromising your nutrition.

Limit your dining out dollars and spend time dining at home. There's no need to pay restaurants for every meal when you can budget and save.

Making your own coffee will help you save money in college. Brewing at home costs pennies compared to what you're charged in coffee shops. You can add all the pizzazz to your coffee right at home; there's no need to spend more on the extra vanilla.

Making your own meals is one of the best ways to save money in college. Home-cooked meals are simple, and the best part is having leftovers. Create a grocery list and start grocery shopping! You will not only save more by eating at home but also eat much healthier. Some of the best tips for how to save on food are to buy in-season or on-sale, prep food and freeze it, or gather with friends and cook a meal together. If you have roommates, consider coordinating your grocery lists and sharing meals to avoid food waste.

Most colleges offer students a meal plan they can utilize in their dining hall to buy food at discounted rates. This can be a convenient option for those who do not have time to make meals at home. A meal plan is a pre-paid account that provides campus dining access. Many colleges also have vending machines students can buy snacks from that will cost less than snacks at fast food restaurants. The best way to save on snacks is to bring them from home!

What Campus Amenities are Offered to College Students?

College campuses typically offer students services they can utilize during their academic journey. You should find out what your school offers as they may provide activities or services you don't need to pay for.

Free activities on campus like movie nights, fitness classes, intramural sports, and printing services are some of the many amenities colleges can offer. Many schools also offer career services or resume workshops to help place you in internships or promising jobs.

Do you like to work out? Take advantage of a school gym membership instead of spending money on an off-campus gym. A fitness center on campus will allow you to run the treadmill and lift weights for free.

Many schools offer free public transportation to and from school. College bus shuttles provide safe and convenient transit for students who may have longer commutes.

Visit the health center at your college whether you are under the weather, need a prescription renewal, or need a yearly examination. Take advantage of the free counseling services if you need someone to talk to.


What Services Are Offered With Student Discounts?

Many organizations and companies like to offer student discounts to help lessen the burden of college life because discounts for students can enhance brand awareness and retention, as well as encourage first-time purchases and foster long-term brand loyalty.

Students in college can save more money with UNiDAYS. Becoming a member is free; once you've signed up, you can explore and redeem 150+ exclusive discounts for students. Brands include Samsung, Adidas, Tarte, Garmin, Oakley, Verizon, Hulu, and many more!

You can also cut costs as an Amazon Prime Student member and watch Amazon Prime Video at a discounted rate! Amazon offers college students a six-month free trial and then a discounted rate of $69/year, which is 50% less than the regular Prime membership. Among other benefits, Prime members can access Amazon Music Prime, Amazon Pictures, Amazon Gaming, and free two-day shipping.

Additionally, museums typically offer students free or discounted admissions with a valid student ID. Furthermore, credit cards for college students can help them save and earn while spending money.

Moreover, electronics, software, and online streaming are just a few of the many services offered at discounted rates for students. A simple Google search will help you find discounts - get to looking!

Frequently Asked Questions About Saving Money in College

How much money should I save for college?

It is difficult for families to calculate how much they should save for college. Though it is universally acknowledged that college costs are rapidly increasing; you should start saving as early as possible with whatever you can. Any investment will produce higher returns if it is invested for a more extended period.

Creating a plan for monthly contributions for education purposes will help you meet goals and save funds for school. Some experts suggest the 1/3 rule, where you save one-third of the expected costs of college. Historically, college education costs about three times as much over any 17-year period between birth and enrollment.

Bottom line- create a savings plan early and follow through with it. The cost of college will vary widely from school to school.

What is goal-based budgeting?

A budget is a way to keep track of your expenses and deposits at the most basic level. Spending time creating a budget will help you manage your spending and saving habits to save money in college.

A goal will keep you on track and motivated to put money aside. Your budgeting goals can be short-term or long-term; either way, it is essential to keep track of what you spend and what you earn to meet these goals and save more than you spend.

The best goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Make your goals narrow and clear for a more effective strategy. Decide what will help you prove you're reaching your goals, for example, a calendar or an app. Be sure to create a goal you can meet in a reasonable time. Your goals should align with your values and objectives. Set realistic end-dates to accomplish these goals and stay motivated.

How much money do you save going to community college?

With easier application processes, community colleges often have lower fees and average college costs. The benefits of a degree from a community college can outweigh those of a university for many students pursuing secondary education.

Community colleges significantly reduce and may even eliminate the need for student loans, which could lead to five-figure savings. A full-time student attending a two-year college will pay an average of $3,800 for tuition and fees. At the same time, the average in-state student attending a four-year college spends around $25,000 for a single academic year. Of course, tuition and fees will vary across different schools, so you should research your top choice schools to weigh your options.

There's an increased opportunity to earn money while attending a two-year college because a community college schedule is typically more flexible than a schedule at a university. With more time to work, you have more time to earn!

Additionally, the credits you earn in community college can be transferred and applied to a bachelor's degree at a university. You can first cut the costs of an undergrad degree by attending a two-year college. Be sure to speak with the admission or academic advisor to discuss transfer credits to ensure you're on the right track.

How do I apply for financial aid?

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form is simple to navigate. Check out the Aid Application Process for more information. The form allows you to request federal grants, loans, and work-study. You must create an FSA ID, username, and password to start.

If you are a dependent student, you will need a parent or guardian, whose information will be reported on your FAFSA form, to create an FSA ID so that documents can be signed electronically.

Be sure to gather documents like your social security number, your parent's social security number if you are a dependent student, federal tax information, your driver's license if you have one, and more. If you're applying for the first time on, select "Start Here" to begin your application.

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