Admit it…the broke college student stereotype is alive and well. While the four years fly by, part of the experience for most of us involves budgeting, being financially responsible…and yes sometimes eating ramen. Over the years I have learned some manageable ways to save money in college that definitely have added up to g
7 Easy Ways to Save Money in College:
Join your college or university’s “free and for sale page”:
Most universities have a Facebook group or page where students can post items they are trying to sell. Check it out for things like textbooks, dishware, and even clothes. The student sellers are eager to get rid of things, so they are also likely to take offers as well. Likewise, if you have lots of unnecessary things in your dorm, post them up to make some extra spending money! (Protip: The end of the semester is when the most items and best deals go up)
Buy in reasonable quantities:
When I first started independently grocery shopping, I had an idealistic plan of stocking up and ambition to do large amounts of cooking. However, with my busy college lifestyle there was no way I would be cooking that much. Sure, maybe larger quantities of (perishable) food seems like a good idea, but be realistic. How much time do you have? How much will you really eat of it? While buying ambitious quantities of food seemed like a good idea, it often ended up going bad. There’s no point in trying to save money if you end up throwing it away. I find buying things in smaller quantities -just a few apples each week or a few handfuls of green beans – saves me money because there’s no waste at the end of the week. + Hooray for sustainability! On the flip side, if you find sales on nonperishable items stocking up is a great idea. You can never have too much toilet paper on hand.
Download your favorite store’s apps + coupon + find student savings:
I cannot emphasize enough how much coupon-ing will help to save money in college. One of the easiest ways to do this nowadays is download the apps of stores you frequent. For example, my friends can tell you, I am an avid CVS shopper. I just love how you can buy anything and it is so convenient Anyway, the CVS app gives exclusive coupons on top of the in-store deals so it’s great money-saver. (And no this post is not sponsored by them). Another example is the Whole Foods app, which shows coupons and sales each week. See below:
Check your most-frequented stores for rewards/loyalty programs and if they have an app providing extra savings! On a similar note, many stores offer discounts for students who show their ID. Click here for a great list!
While exploring new restaurants and going out to eat is great fun, it gets pricey fast. Instead of always opting to go out, cook in some nights! My friends and I like to switch off whose place we cook at and really enjoy making meals together. Even cooking a simple and classic dish of spaghetti and meatballs is a lot of fun and helps to save money in college. Another idea is to do a potluck style dinner where everyone brings one food item to the party.
Don’t waste money on things you can make or you know are overpriced:
Personally, I feel justified in spending my money on things I couldn’t ordinarily make at home. However we all can relate it’s a painful experience to fork over $4 on a cup of hot tea at Starbucks when you could have made it at home. A lot of tempting things to buy out at can be made at home for a quarter of the price. Many college-kid staples like tea, coffee, grilled cheese, and breakfast sandwiches can easily be made in a dorm. Furthermore, it makes no sense to spend $4 on a single scoop of ice cream when you could get a whole tub for $4. Be conscious of how eating out adds up and save your money by making things yourself. In turn, you can put it towards more valuable or worthwhile things.
The truth is, it’s painful to shell out $300 for one book, no matter how great it is. Textbook rental websites like Chegg ease the burden and cut costs significantly. Amazon and Barnes & Noble also offer textbook rental options so cross-check across multiple websites to get the best deal possible.
Take advantage of free things through your university:
Don’t be shy about taking advantage of free things! Whether it’s people handing out agendas on the street or food in the campus quad for a student organization, go for it. Additionally, check out what complimentary academic resources your school also may offer. For example, my university gives students free Office 365 downloads (Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc) and access to Lynda.com (an online tutorial site to learn new tech skills).