Tips for Saving Money in College

If you’re in college, it’s likely you often find yourself running out of cash. Find out how you can save a little money by taking a look at our tips.

College costs add up pretty quickly. Between tuition, living expenses, food and, of course, the occasional night out, it’s no wonder it’s hard to save money. This is probably the first time you’ve been away from home, so adjusting to living on a budget can be difficult.

Living on a college budget is challenging. Even if you have the time to work at a part-time job, you are likely earning minimum wage. Between class, schoolwork and meeting with friends, managing your money might not be a high priority.

Luckily for you, it’s surprisingly easy to save a few bucks by applying small lifestyle changes. Learn to spend your money wisely by taking a look at our advice, below.

Buy used textbooks

It’s no secret that new textbooks are expensive. Look around for used bookstores, where the prices are heavily discounted. Also check out the internet – even with shipping costs, used textbooks are usually cheaper if you buy them online. You can also often check out books on reserve at your school’s library. Ask around if anybody has already taken the courses you are taking now. You might be able to borrow or buy their textbooks.


Save money on gas and public transportation by walking to class. It’s healthier and, if you live on campus, the walk shouldn’t be that long. If this is not an option, see if you can carpool with other students that live in your area.

Get the right cell phone plan

You can save a lot of money by choosing a more affordable cell phone plan. If you take your laptop to classes, there’s a good chance you don’t need to text your friends as often anymore. Skype and Facebook are a good alternative. Consider joining a family cell phone plan with your parents – it will be cheaper for everyone.

Open a checking account

College students often enjoy some benefits when opening a checking account. Banks will often offer free checking and some offer sign-up bonuses. Furthermore, there are no fees on withdrawals and fund transfers. Before picking your bank, make sure online banking is available. It will be easier to follow your activity this way.

Track your spending

Keep track of your spending habits. Write down everything you buy every day and figure out what cuts you can make. Never throw away your receipts – place them in a shoe box instead. This way, if in doubt, you will know where your money went at the end of the month. Plus, if you want to return a large purchase, you’ll have the receipt saved.

Cook your own food

Campus meal plans vary depending on the university, but it might be cheaper to cook your own food. Take advantage of your dorm kitchen, if you have one, and go to the grocery store. Shop smartly, get some variety in your diet and limit takeout.

Save some cash

Every time you have $10 you don’t plan on spending anytime soon, tuck the bills in an envelope and put them somewhere safe. In time, this can count as your very own emergency fund.

Don’t use credit cards

Credit cards can cause the illusion that you have money when you actually don’t. Avoid getting in debt by only spending what you have.

Take advantage of student discounts

A student ID can get you some serious discounts, so keep an eye out for them. Stores and restaurants are known for offering discounts to students, especially in college towns.

Happy Hour!

When going out with friends, look for places that offer discounted drinks between certain hours. Also, pubs and bars usually have special offers for large groups. A little research can save you a few precious bucks.

Make your own coffee

If you purchase your daily coffee from Starbucks or any other coffee shop, you’ll be spending more than it costs to make a drink at home. It will be cheaper to buy a coffee machine and a reusable thermos. It will save you money in the long run.

Figuring out how to save money while in college takes a little time, especially if you haven’t been on your own before. Good luck!