How to save money while in college?

Susan Fernandez November 11 2021

This article is about how to save money while you are in college. It also goes into depth about many strategies that are sure to help you cut down on some of your expenses so you can have more money for different things without having to take out a loan.

There are many organizations out there that offer loans, but ultimately college students should be able to cover any costs themselves without having to rely on others or pay additional interest through the loan process. If you feel like this is something that might work for you then keep reading because we are going to tell you about some effective ways how to save money while in college.

How much should college students have in savings?

This is a tough question to answer because it really depends on the student's individual financial situation. However, as a general rule of thumb, college students should aim to have around $1,000 in savings. This will help them cover unexpected expenses and give them a cushion in case of an emergency.

There are a few ways that college students can save money and we will cover them separately.


Simple ways to save money in college: Scholarships and grants

It is a great way of avoiding paying for college.

There are many ways to save money while in college, but one of the most effective is scholarships and grants. There are so many out there that help students from all different backgrounds get through college without having to pay a thing.

Another reason that this is such a good idea is that you can avoid paying interest on loans later down the road. If you get a loan right off the bat you will have some additional costs which you don't want to pay if they aren't completely necessary.

You should do some research on organizations or even your local community center, church groups, etc... This might seem like too much work but trust me when I say it pays off big time!

Living expenses

Next, it is important to remember that you are going to be living on your own for the first time, so prepare yourself. No longer are mom and dad there cooking dinner for you every night. You have probably already found this out but college students don't typically cook all their meals either.

Most of them go out to eat or buy junk food because let's face it. Who has the time or energy to make a whole meal every day?

This is something that can run up quite a bill if not managed correctly. There are two things you need to do in order to save money when eating out at restaurants: First, go with friends as much as possible! This will save you some cash by splitting the food and drinks which is awesome since they never ever turn out to be enough food.

Second, you should use a little trick that will save you a ton of money at the same time! It is called the "doggy bag." If you have been going out to eat with friends lately then you probably have already noticed this tip in action. However, if not then here it is: go to a sandwich shop and get a small sandwich or something similar for lunch. Then at dinner time grab a baggie and take what remains of your lunch from earlier and put it in the baggie.

This way when it comes time to order dinner you can say hey I already ate today so no need for me to get anything else. In fact, don't even tell them that it's leftovers because they might not let you order them.


Saving money everywhere you go

Now, this might sound like a weird tip, but there is so much truth behind it! If you are serious about saving money while in college then I suggest that one of your main goals should be to find things for free or cheap. This doesn't mean doing the bare minimum, but actually putting forth an effort to have fun without spending too much money at the same time.

One easy way to do this is by finding movies that are either out of theaters or don't cost anything at home. The only thing that you will need is a computer with high-speed internet access along with enough storage space on your hard drive because sometimes they have really big file sizes.

If you are looking for new movies to watch then all you have to do is go online and start browsing. You can find free or very cheap movies almost anywhere on the internet either through file-sharing websites or even legal download sites.

Saving with books and courses

One of the best tips for saving money while in college is to have a clear understanding of the textbook situation.  In this day and age with everything being so digital, it seems that many schools rely on e-books more than they used to.  

While there certainly are a lot of things to love about these books, especially when you can rent them online instead of going out and buying them. But if your goal is to save you some serious cash then I suggest going old school for your textbooks.  

This way you will not only keep all that cash in your pocket but also be able to sell back or trade in the books at the end of each semester which gives you more money!

Transportation can be cheaper

Do you know that many schools provide a shuttle bus to take students from one campus building to another? In fact, this is common at most bigger universities. This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me when I say it can save you tons of money!

You should definitely take advantage of things like these because they will make your life easier and save quite a few bucks. So don't forget to check out if there are any transportation services available near your school. It could end up saving you a lot of time and money along with making everything much more convenient for you in the long run.

While you are at the college, do some research about parking fees. There are some schools that charge students for parking on campus while others don't. This may not seem like a big deal, but trust me when I say it can be a massive headache to go back and forth paying for parking depending on where your classes are located.

Make sure you look into how much it is to park in certain areas of your college because it will save you an absolute ton of money at the end of each semester if there are no costs associated with driving on campus, which brings us to our next point.


Packing smart = higher efficiency = more cash!

One small step that many college students neglect which ends up costing them hundreds over the course of each semester is simply lack of preparation. You see when it comes to college there is a lot that goes into it and most people don't realize this until they start seeing their bills at the end of the month.

This means having to learn how to tackle your school work and everything else with time management and efficiency in mind.  This will save you so much money because you will not only do things faster but also more productively which leads us to our next point…

Saving on your bill

One really good way for saving money while in college is by taking advantage of any discounts or special offers available for students who attend your school. So why not utilize these services as much as because at the end of the day it is money that you can easily save.  

You should definitely check out your school website for more information about services available to students, because it may end up saving you an absolute ton of cash!

This is another really simple way to save money while in college. For example, if you are enrolled at the highest undergraduate tuition rate (which usually means you are getting charged for graduate courses as well), find out if there are any discounts or special programs offered by the school after undergraduate studies.

This would help tremendously with finding a job or anything else afterward which will make your life much easier and your chances of going on to further your education much better.

Clothes actually do cost money

Even though it seems like a regular T-shirt and a pair of jeans would be cheap, they actually cost a lot more than you think. You see this happens because there are always better deals online as opposed to what is available locally which makes it much cheaper if you buy things online instead of from a store. Yes, it costs money for your time, but at least you will still save lots of cash!

In addition, make sure you do some research on where to shop in order to get the best deal possible. For example, online stores typically sell their merchandise at a lower price since they don't have many overheads other than paying rent or maybe a small team of individuals.

So if you want to buy something but keep your expenses at the absolute minimum, I would definitely recommend doing some research first before buying anything!

Housing money-saving tips for college students

Instead of getting an apartment off-campus with your friends, why not look into what the possibilities are for roommates or shared accommodation? It is one of those really easy ways to save money in college. This will help you so much because you will be splitting the bills three ways instead of two, which means each person only ends up paying part of their expenses.  

This can seriously go a long way when it comes to saving money while in college!

Another spending you should think about cutting out to save money in college

  • Alcohol, don't buy it; you only need one beer for when your friends come around and you can save all of that money!
  • Stop buying food from fast-food chains like McDonald's or KFC, try cooking at home instead to save tons of cash!
  • Gyms are always expensive, so if you want to save money while in college try exercising outdoors or even join a local gym with cheaper fees!
  • Subscription to any services like cable TV or even Netflix can be really easy to forget about, but having this kind of spending on your bill every month makes it much harder to save money.
  • Having car insurance is obviously essential especially if you are underage! But if possible try finding someone who already has coverage and asks them to add you too because this can make your life so much easier when it comes to driving around!

Tips on how to earn money while you are at college

This is a really good option because it can help you make money while in college, especially if you are struggling to balance your finances!

Working as a tutor can be great for making some extra cash on the side. Whether it's private tutoring during the hours when schools are closed or even doing an online class that people are having trouble with, finding students who need this kind of instruction will have them lining up to have you teach them!

Many colleges also offer work-study programs which let you use your time at school to earn lots of cash for paid part-time work. This means you can easily find jobs around campus so that way after classes or before starts, you have something productive to do! This should definitely be one of the first things you do when going to college.

Going into a field that has part-time work available is also a good thing because it means that once you have graduated, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to make money as well since your free time during evenings and weekends won't be eaten up by anything else other than working!


The main thing to keep in mind is that you will never be able to save money while in college if you don't actually go out and actively search for ways to make your life at school more affordable. Many times, the best deals are ones that you won't even notice or know about unless someone points them out!

The key here is not to take things for granted but instead try making everything count by looking past what's right in front of you.