25 Money-saving tips for college students on a budget

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For many students, college is the first step in assuming personal and financial responsibility. With the rising tuition rates and many other expenses, college students are becoming more and more financially unstable. 

However, being smart about how you spend your money while in college can help you in the long run. Here are some great tips that financially savvy college students live by.

Buy what you NEED, not what you WANT. 

We often buy things we desire without assessing if it’s really needed. So next time you buy something, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”

Buy or rent used textbooks. 

Believe it or not, buying or renting used textbooks can save you a bunch of money. For the best deals on textbooks, consider renting or buying textbooks on the internet (we’ve got some great suggestions here), or even your local library and/or your school library.

Limit eating out. 

Eating out is usually costly and unhealthy. Instead, plan your week in advance and head to the grocery store to get what you need for the week. This will save you a pretty penny and keep you from eating unhealthy fast food.

Avoid late fees by paying your bills on time. 

To avoid late fees, consider setting up automatic payments for your bills. With automatic payments, you’ll be able to pay recurring bills on a specific day or whenever the bill is due. To enroll in automatic payments, you have to give the company your payment information and select the payment date.

Skip expensive spring breaks and summer trips. 

For a long time, spring break and summer trips have been a part of college experience. However, affording these trips can be very costly. Save that money and use your breaks as a time to gain much-needed experience. Like at an internship or job.

Why pay for class if you’re not going to go to it? 

Believe it or not, you’re paying for your education, and therefore, you should get your money’s worth by attending class. Choosing to not attend class is a waste of money and time.

Drink water. 

Water is free and is excellent for your health, so why not? A popular college hack is to carry a water bottle with you at all times. 

Get discounts on music or listen for free. 

Apple and Spotify provide students discounts on music subscriptions. You can listen to 30 million songs for free with Pandora.

Become a resident advisor. 

Colleges usually provide resident advisors with free room and board along with meal plans. Not only do you get free housing, but you also get to talk about your college experience with undergraduate students. 

Limit the amount of loans you take out.  

Each year the interest rate on loans increases, and each year more students take out student loans. To avoid graduating with thousands of dollars in debt, only take out for school-related expenses. Services like Frank can help you take on fewer loans by making sure you get all the financial aid you’re eligible for. 

Open a savings account that earns interest. 

Treat your savings account as a bill, that way you won’t have to think twice about depositing money into the account. Chase, Bank of America, U.S. Bank, and PNC Bank are among the banks that provide the best savings account for students.

 Make your own coffee. 

Even if you probably don’t know how to make your own coffee, you should give it a try. Drinking coffee from Starbucks every morning can cost you a couple of bucks a month. To learn how to make your own coffee, visit How to Make the Best Gourmet Coffee Recipes at Home.

Don’t be shy! Go out and participate in free school events. 

Schools often host free sports events and fairs. Attending school events is a good way to meet new people and save money compared to going to events you have to pay for.

Use the end of the year move out to your advantage. 

Most schools have end-of-year sales, which consist of items for sale at low prices. Visit your school’s housing portal for more information regarding move out sales. 

Never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. 

According to experts, if you go food shopping while hungry, you will end up buying more things than you need. One way to prevent this from happening is by eating a snack beforehand. 

Walk, use public transportation, or ride a bike instead of having a car. 

If you’re considering bringing a car to campus, think about it twice. Not only will you have to pay a parking fee and gas, but you will also have to pay for the car’s maintenance. Instead, consider taking the free shuttle buses offered by your school to get around campus.

Live with your bestie and split the cost. 

Having a roommate can help reduce how much you spend on housing. It also grants you someone to talk to when you’re having a bad day. 

Go shopping where there are student discounts. 

Many companies provide college student discounts. These discounts can be a huge money saver. Best Buy, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon are among the stores that offer college students discounts.

Join the gym on-campus versus a gym in town. 

Gym memberships can cost $15-100, depending on the gym. If you want to save some money, consider attending the gym in your school which can be cheaper or even free.

Sell what you no longer use or need. 

Why keep old things that you no longer need? You can sell old items for a lower price in stores and websites such as eBay, Craigslist, Poshmark, and Mercari.

Don’t buy unnecessary school supplies. 

According to the National Retail Federation, families spend an average of $630.36 each year on school supplies. To refrain from spending this much money, wait until the day after the first day of school to buy school supplies based on what professors require.

 Avoid buying name brand items. 

Though you might want that new designer dress you saw on an Instagram model, ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” Brand items are often overrated, just buy what makes you feel confident and comfortable.

Use a free money management tool. 

Need help managing your expenses? Several companies offer assistance with better managing and tracking your money, such as Mint. 

Try to get the cheapest college meal plan. 

Every college offers a variety of different meal plans. Often times, students overestimate how much they will eat from their meal plan, which leads to unnecessary spending. To avoid choosing the incorrect meal plan, consider buying snacks at your local food market.

Cut out vices, seriously! 

Smoking and drinking are costly habits that are bad for your health. 

There’s a variety of different ways students can afford higher education while also saving money. If you smartly spend your money, you can save a ton of money.