5 Save Money in College and Get Ahead

Is it possible to save money in college, still get good grades, and have some fun?

Possible… absolutely!

Easy… no.

Saving money in college seems daunting

“I am a sophomore and do my best to balance my study and private life. Tons of homework and bills for textbooks make me depressed sometimes. Not to speak of other aspects of my college life: food, rent, and all those payments. Plus, I want to spend time with my friends and girlfriend, go to cafes and cinemas, and attend parties! After all, YOLO! No?” (Jacob, 20)

Yeah, Jacob, I’ve been there, too.

Parents, loans, credit cards – they were all my best friends.

It seems I wasn’t alone in the problem, too: according to the 2017 UK National Student Money Survey, 8 out of 10 students worry about having enough money.

They mentioned rent, food, and social activities as the three most cost-intensive fields.

What surprised me most is that many students don’t understand their loan agreements or repayment terms.

When I was in college, I thought I was the only one who couldn’t get how all that financial stuff worked out.

Now I know I wasn’t alone!

Get serious if you want to save money in college

Students need help with money management.

The Web is full of articles sharing tips like “don’t eat out,” “rent DVDs instead of going to cinemas,” “don’t buy textbooks but borrow them from senior students,” etc.


Do they believe students won’t eat out or go to the cinema with friends?

Yea, right…

Students these days are thinking outside the box.

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I know that for sure because I work with them.

In fact, students like Jacob inspired me to write this article to reveal unconventional tips on saving money that would help him and his peers make ends meet.

Take a moment to check out these quotes about college, along with ten books every college student should read.

5 Tips To Save Money In College

To save money in college, consider the following:

1. Develop Good Habits

motivate yourself to save money in college

Maggie McGrath from Forbes shares tips on developing habits for college students that will not only help them to manage money while studying but also teach them how to save in the real world after graduation.

Among them include, but are not limited to:

  • re-selling used books;
  • living with roommates to share rent;
  • using summer money all throughout the year;
  • walking to class instead of using transportation;
  • taking part in activities – like student flash mobs – to get experience, not things;
  • taking help from org, ZenPen.io, and other free tools to save time and money on college assignments.

2. Get Organized

Most students need about four years to earn their bachelor’s degree (shame on me, but I needed six).

With high tuition fees, wouldn’t it be better for young people to get organized and plan carefully to graduate as soon as possible?

After all, it may help them save money in college.

Tracking all possible expenses can help you understand how much you’ll really be spending.

Afterward, you can consider which ones are worth cutting out of your budget entirely.

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3. Use Money Calendars

motivate yourself to save money in college

With dozens of online resources and mobile apps available, it would be great to try traditional paper calendars again.

This will allow you to write about plans and other activities related to money.

I used such calendars to take note of the following:

  • bill payments dates
  • dates for scholarships
  • dates for social activities that need money (parties, movies, etc.)
  • upcoming expenses related to school (textbooks, courses, etc.)

4. Don’t Ignore Coupons

This is my favorite trick to save money in college!

I tried to find and use them whenever I could.

Many websites provide discount codes for deals tied to online applications or browser extensions.

Just activate them to get the notifications.

Isn’t that enough reason to go shopping online?

Check Coupons.com listings for more than a hundred offers, or try the extension called Honey to save cash.

5. Use Apps

motivate yourself to save money in college

Millennials are also known as the mobile generation.

I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find a student who doesn’t have a smartphone, laptop, or another device that caters to apps.

Use them to help you save money.

These are a few must-tries:

  • Mint can help you create budgets and even track your credit score.
  • RetailmeNot will help you find coupons and cash-back opportunities.
  • Doxo can schedule your payments with just one login.

Dozens of apps help monitor transactions or check your bank balance.

Just decide on the features you need and have fun looking for the best one.


Back in college, I always thought outside the box and was creative and inventive – sorry, but if I don’t sing myself, who will? – with saving money.

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With my financial illiteracy, I was yet able to budget for everything.

I lived with a roommate to share the rent.

I cooked at home to take food with me rather than go out for lunch every day.

Plus, I never bought anything without asking for discounts.

I think it was because I understood I had no skills in money management, so I just tried to compensate for this gap.

But as a result, I have many tricks up my sleeve.

Among them are:

  • Don’t buy textbooks. Instead, borrow them from your library. Or, you can rent them, which is less expensive anyway.
  • Don’t be too lazy to work while in college.
  • Attend free events on campus for entertainment.
  • Choose low-cost hobbies, such as reading or running.
  • Pay in cash. This trick helps you avoid the impression that you don’t spend much money as you don’t see it.

Do you have any good tips to save money in college?

Don’t hesitate to share them in the comments section.

Let your peers know the best ways to cut costs in college today.

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Lesley Vos is an accomplished private educator and online tutor, driven by a deep passion for writing and blogging. Her contributions to various publications in the domains of education, career, and lifestyle reflect her commitment to sharing valuable experiences and insights. Connect with Lesley on Twitter to stay informed.