5 Ways to Save Money in College

September 17, 2021

As college students prepare to go back to school, there are many costs to consider like books, housing, and school supplies.

Many college students are in charge of their own expenses. This means that they have to handle paying for everything—their books, school supplies, housing, tuition, groceries, and clothes. All of these costs can add up very quickly and sometimes part-time jobs for college students just aren't enough. 

Tackle all your back-to-school college spending this year by budgeting and taking advantage of the following 5 money-saving tips. 

1. Buy, Rent, and Sell Textbooks

Textbooks are a big part of university learning. But now you have to buy all of those textbooks yourself. College books can be extremely expensive, meaning that this is the area with the most money-saving potential. 

Instead of buying your textbooks new, take advantage of textbook rentals, cheap textbooks, and used textbooks. You can find used textbooks on marketplaces and even online. Then, sell textbooks back to other students taking that class the next semester to recoup at least some of your money back. 

Now instead of paying hundreds of dollars just on textbooks each year, you can end up spending a lot less in the long-term through buying used and reselling. 

2. Use Student Discounts

While you are a student take advantage of all the student discounts you can. Just be careful not to take on a cost you otherwise would have done without, just because there is a student discount. 

Everywhere you go, ask if they offer any student discounts, and soon you'll have an arsenal of resources that offer deals for students like you. You can possibly find student discounts at major places too like Apple student discounts for laptops and computers, Nike student discounts for workout clothes to keep you healthy, Best Buy student discounts for all your tech gear, and Hulu student discounts for relaxing after a long week of tests and papers. 

You can find deals, coupons, and promos for university students almost anywhere! Take the time to look for a discount before you make any purchase as a student and you'll save lots of money in the long term. You can even save on student flights to visit home for the holidays with sites like studentuniverse.com/flights

3. Make a College Student Budget

Budgets generally all start off with the same formatting. They need to list all your sources of income and your essential vs luxury expenses. Compared together you can use these lists to make sure you aren't living paycheck to paycheck, that you aren't going over budget, and that you are saving for the future. 

A college budget can end up a little different though because there are unique expenses and income sources. You might have family members who are helping to pay for some things. You might have student loans or grant money to factor into your income. 

Make a Monthly College Budget

The easiest way to start budgeting as a busy college student is to take it one month at a time. 

  1. Start by listing your sources of income to get the total amount you have available to spend each month. 
  2. Then list the bills you need to pay each month and when those bills are due. This might include things like rent, phone plans, car payments, or tuition fees. Keep track of how much each bill costs and when they are paid. 
  3. As you pay bills, also list things like "grocery shopping" and record those expenses as well. That way you can have a clear total of how much you really spend each month in relation to how much you have to available to spend. 

Download a Back to College Budget Here

Make a Back to College Shopping List Budget

Back-to-school items can eat up a lot of your budget. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to save on these expenses by buying used and using student discounts.

Back to College Shopping List Ideas: 

  • Items for your college dorm, like pillows, blankets, or cookware 
  • Items for doing homework at home like a desk, chair, laptop computer, or printer
  • Paper goods like printing paper, notebooks, planners, post-it notes, or flashcards
  • Pens, pencils, and highlighters
  • Pen and pencil case 
  • Backpack 
  • Folders 
  • Tech gear like a charger, extension chord, adaptors, and headphones
  • Tech-safe cleaner for wiping down keyboards and computer screens
  • Textbooks and protective book covers 
  • Umbrella or poncho in case you get caught in the rain 
  • Walking shoes for walking around campus 
  • Bike and bike lock if you bike back and forth to campus 

When buying items for going back to school, it can help to plan those costs ahead of time alongside a budget so you don't overspend. Then, as you go shopping, you can keep track of the price of each thing to compare the prices from semester to semester. This can help you keep track of where the best places to shop as a college student are and help you be mindful of all your spending. 

Download a Back to College Shopping List Budget Here

4. Apply for College Scholarships

There are so many resources out there available to college students that can help them pay for the things they need and their schooling. There are always student loans that your university can help you take out but you'll eventually have to pay back those student loans. 

Grants and scholarships are a great way to get school funding without taking out loans that need to be repaid eventually. There are government grants that can help get students money to pay for school expenses that they don't have to pay back. There are also college scholarships where you write an essay or fulfill some kind of requirement for free funds. Sometimes a scholarship will even pay for multiple semester's worths of tuition. 

5. Apply for Online Jobs for Students 

Online jobs for college students can be a perfect job solution for students who don't have enough time in their day for a regular job. When you need to take classes during regular work hours, it can be hard to find normal jobs to accommodate your odd hours. Instead of trying to make a regular job work with your class schedule, find a job that offers flexible hours. 

Online jobs for college students are a great answer to this problem. You'll need a good internet connection, but most students need to have a strong internet connection for school anyway. Other than that, online jobs for students give you the power to schedule your own work hours around your classes. 

In Conclusion, 

College is expensive, but it doesn't have to leave you living in the red each month so long as you keep these how to save money in college tips in mind. By keeping a student budget, saving on expenses wherever you can, and getting flexible jobs that work with your college schedule, you can save money and live more comfortably during your college days.