6 Money Tips for College Students

chalkboard with money and piggy bank
January 2, 2020

Check out these 6 tips for saving money in college. Great ways to save money in college are buying used textbooks, getting a part-time job, and making a budget.

With college being so expensive these days, students are looking for more and more ways to earn and save money. The cost of tuition is going up and up, while the money in our bank accounts seems to go the opposite direction. These 6 tips can help any college student save some extra cash and prepare more readily for the future.

1) Buy Used Textbooks

According to the College Report, the average college students spends $1200 dollars on textbooks a year. Multiply that by 4 years and you will be spending almost $5000 on textbooks and supplies alone! New textbooks are very costly, and sometimes they are not even needed that much during the semester.

The answer to this textbook crisis are used textbooks. You can get used textbooks at your campus book store or online. Online used textbooks are generally cheaper and the better option to with. 

You can use popular sites like AmazoneBay, or Chegg to find used textbooks. You can often find used textbooks for half of the price of what it would cost you to buy them new.Another option is to rent out your textbooks for the semester.

While this option is viable, it is typically not superior to just buying used textbooks. You cannot sell your rented textbooks after you use them and so it will generally save you money to buy used textbooks and then resell them once you no longer need them.

2) Get a Part-time Job

Many people believe that college is for learning, which is true, but it is almost a great time to get a part-time job. If you are in a college town, chances are that there are many opportunities on and off campus to find a job. Simply look on your campus job board or go around town to local businesses and ask if they are hiring. 

There is no need to work a huge amount while in college. Your first priority is to learn, and then if you wish to work you can. Only work as much as you have time for. If your grades start to slip then cut back with your job. School is infinitely more important than working a minimum wage job an extra 10 hours a week.

3) Snip Coupons

You may think that only bargain-hunters who spend a lot of time can save substantial money with coupon clipping. In reality, not much time is needed to find good deals at local grocery stores. If you search for coupons online you are almost sure to find some savings on food that you eat every week. 

Also, it is great to know that WalMart will match any price of any competitor, whether it is on sale or there is an ongoing special. If a local grocery store is selling milk for $2/gallon every Wednesday, then WalMart will match that price every Wednesday. With this price matching and WalMart's already low prices you can save money while shopping at one place.

4) Create a Budget

It is easy to spend money when you don't have a budget. If you have no set amount you can spend, what is stopping you from spending over that amount every week or month? While a budget may seem old-fashioned, it is fantastic. Set a weekly budget for expenditures such as food and clothes. 

If you make things stretch, you can pretty easily spend only $50-$75 a week based on your area of living. Some big expenses are typically food, transportation, and entertainment. If circumstances permit, you town's public transportation system may be a great way to save money by not having a car and insurance.

Otherwise, just find a friend with a vehicle who can drive you to the store. Having a budget in place will help you control your spending and can even be fun when you really see how much money you can save.

5) Spend Less on Entertainment

Let's face it, college is a time to learn, but it's also a time to have some fun once in a while. There are many activities to do with friends and colleagues in college towns. Going out to eat, going to the movies, and doing many other things are always fun ways to unwind after some studying.

There is nothing wrong with spending a little bit of money on entertainment, but be careful and do not get carried away. Set a portion of your weekly budget aside for entertainment expenditures. 

It is easy to go out to eat a couple times a week and spend $20. That's a monthly cost of $80 and a semester cost of almost $250! These things add up so it's best to watch how often you spend money on entertainment/dining out.There are many things you can do for a low cost or even free. You can go on a hike with friends.

This is free and you get a little bit of sunshine at the same time. If you have a local bowling alley, it is likely they have a night where you can bowl for less. Get some friends together and be sure to go on that night to save a few bucks. There are many cheap ways to have some fun in college as long as you keep an eye out for them.

6) Get the Right Meal Plan for You

If you are living on campus it is likely that you have a meal plan. If you do have a meal plan is it the right one? Unless you are using all or most of your meals every week it is likely you are wasting money on your meals. If this is the case, be sure to downgrade to a lower limit of meals once the next semester rolls around so you can save some money.

 If you do have a meal plan and want to save some money, consider moving to a part of campus or even off campus where you are not required to have a meal plan. It is much cheaper to eat without a meal plan. 

While it may not be convenient to cook your meals, it saves so much money and you can eat surprising well for low costs if you plan out your meals every week and focus on eating the simple things. Focus on fruits, grains, pastas, chicken, etc.

Saving money in college is an easier thing to do than most people believe. With a little bit of self-control and perseverance anything is possible. Learning to save while in college will extend into your life after college and will be a great start to a solid financial base once you graduate.