Tips To Save While In College

No one will argue with you that college is expensive! However, there are things you can do that cut down on the amount you pay overall. It doesn’t mean you go without necessities but it does mean you can focus on how to save. The money you save can help pay for the next semester or just be in savings for when you get out of college.

Tip #1 – Bring what you can from home! It costs far less to bring essential items from home than to buy them on campus. The retailers in a college town also increase prices on popular items because they know students may need to come in and buy them.

Tip #2 – Second hand stores offer plenty of bargains. You may want a coffee pot for the dorm or you need a different size of bedding items than you have at home. You don’t have to go out and buy brand new items. Instead, you can get what you need for a very low price from second hand stores.

Tip #3 - Think about your meal plan before you buy it. Most colleges offer several choices. It may be tempting to buy the one with unlimited meals. However, you may discover you often sleep through breakfast or you work off campus so you miss dinner there several nights a week. If that is the case, reduce your meal plan the follow semester. Make sure you have enough options to eat but don’t pay for what you don’t use.

Tip #4 - Get a roommate and save on the cost of the dorms. It is more if you have your own room. Sometimes, students are worried they will get a roommate from hell. Be assured most colleges strive to make sure you are compatible. In fact, they may have a questionnaire you have to fill out. Be honest with your answers so you get the best possible match. If you do have concerns with a roommate, there are procedures in place to help you work it out.

Tip #5 - Dorm choice can save you plenty of money. Most colleges have several dorm options for you to consider. They start out with very basic for the lowest price. As you get more perks, they cost more money. You want to be comfortable but think about what is essential and what you can do without.

Tip #6 - Become an RA (Residential Advisor) in your dorm. This can get you a larger room and it often means you get your own room. At most colleges your dorm is either free or significantly reduced in cost for this service. The RA is responsible for taking care of any issues on their floor. It is a great deal of responsibility but also a great way to problem solve and meet other students.

Tip #7 - Transportation is something to think about. Do you really need a car or can you get by with only public transportation? If you don’t need a car you don’t have to pay for maintenance and you don’t have to pay for insurance.

Tip #8 – While you can’t imagine going to college without a cell phone, you can go with a basic phone and a basic plan. Limit the amount of data you have and pay attention to what you use. Try to use your computer access for playing games, etc. that eat up the data on your cell phone.

Tip #9 – The cost of textbooks for college are enough to give you a heart attack! Yet when you are done with the books you can’t resell them for much. Buy used books from other students or online. You can also rent textbooks for a fraction of what it will cost you to buy them from the college bookstore.

Tip #10 – On campus activities are often free, and they allow you a way to have fun and spend time with others. Yet you aren’t paying out of pocket for activities in the town where the college is located. You can be part of movie night instead of paying for a movie ticket in town.

Tip #11 – Avoid impulse purchases. It can be thrilling as a college student to be away from home and to have some money in your pocket. Yet you need to save that money for what you really need.

Tip #12 – Keep track of your stuff so you don’t have to replace it. College students are always losing their backpacks, jackets, and even leaving their phone cords someplace. Then they have to pay to replace such items. These are unnecessary expenses.

Tip #13 – If you have a meal plan use it. Don’t dine out several times a week at the local fast food places. If you crave such foods, make it a special event you do every couple of weeks.

Tip #14 – Cut out any bad habits that can cost you money you are tossing down the drain. For example, drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes.

Tip #15 – Pay anything you need to on time. Otherwise, you may have late fees that are nothing more than throwing your money out the window.

Tip #16 – Be very, very careful about obtaining and using student credit cards. They can be easy to get but expensive to pay back. The amount of interest adds up quickly. If you don’t pay, your credit can be ruined before you even graduate from college. If you do use a student credit card, do so only when absolutely necessary. Pay the entire balance off as soon as you can.

Tip #17 – Do well in your classes so you don’t have to take them again. If you fail a class, you will have to pay out of pocket to take it a second time. If you fail too many classes you may lose your financial aid. This includes merit based and financial need based.

Tip #18 – Look for college discounts and use them. Many retailers in college towns want your business. They will offer discounts that you can benefit from just by showing your student ID. The discounts may be small but they add up quickly.

Tip #19 – Take good care of your health by resting enough, eating right, and daily exercise. Getting sick makes it hard to focus on your studies. It is also very expensive. Even if you have insurance, there are co-pays and prescription medication costs.

Tip #20 – Does your college have a gym? If so, use it! This is a great way to get active and to reduce stress. If your college doesn’t have a gym, find out if various entities in the town offer discounts for college students.

Tip #21 – Find something to do over spring break that doesn’t cost a fortune. Too many college students feel pressured to join those who are going to a beach town for the week even though they can’t afford it. If you need to go home for the break do so. Perhaps you can just relax and even volunteer. You don’t have to feel obligated to go on a trip you can’t afford.

Tip #22 – Show up for classes unless you are sick. You have already paid your tuition, now it is time to get the benefits from it. You miss so much when you don’t show up to class. If you miss often, it can hinder your overall learning experience.

Tip #23 – Drink water to stay healthy. You can also get it free. Just fill up your water bottle before you go to class. The amount of money the average college student spends weekly on coffee drinks or soft drinks is about $15! If you must have coffee, make your own in the dorm. Get a soda when you go do the dining hall so it isn’t an extra expense.

Tip #24– Don’t pay for music. It can be tempting to buy new CD’s or to buy songs on iTunes. Use free services including Pandora and Spotify. The same is true for video games and movies. You can either rent them or you can buy them used. This is far less than buying them new.

Tip #25 – Can you opt out of a class? Perhaps you can take a test that evaluates your knowledge on given topics. There may be a small fee for that test. If you pass it, you will be exempt from taking that given class. That is going to be a huge savings for tuition and books per course.

Tip #26 - Keep track of your finances, no matter how little you have. Getting into the habit of a monthly budget is important. There are free tools online including one offered at It will help you to see where your money is going. It will help you to see where you have made good decisions and where you need to make spending changes.

Tip #27 – Report any changes to your circumstances that may influence financial aid. You may not qualify for money right now, but next year you may. If your income changes, there is a divorce, there are additional household members, etc. Don’t assume you won’t qualify with those changes.

Tip #28 – Get a change jar and put your change in there every single day. At the end of the month take the jar and go cash the money in. You can do this at your bank or you can do so at a change machine located inside some retail stores. Exchange that change for dollar bills. You will be amazed at how much you have!

Tip #29 – Get a part time job. You can’t work much while in college and still do well with your studies. However, a part time job helps you to stay focused and to realize why your education is so important. You may get a work study job through the college as part of your financial aid package. Put a portion of that money into savings every time you get a check. Doing so will help you establish good savings habits early on.

Tip #30 – It is understood students don’t want to spend all their time on campus. Review local newspapers for free or low cost options to consider. For example, there may be free concerts at the park or the zoo may have ½ price tickets on Sundays.

Tip #31 – Plan travels in advance. It is understood you want to go home to see family over the holidays. In fact, the dorms may be closed so you have to leave during that span of time. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your plane ticket, bus ticket or to plan other arrangements. If you are going to drive home, consider carpooling with other students that live in the same area. Even if your parents need to come get you at a drop off point, everyone pitching in for gas is cheaper than paying your own way. It can also be fun to travel with others instead of alone.

Tip #32 – Plan spa days at the dorms. It is going to be cheaper to buy the items you all need for pedicures and manicures versus getting them done professionally in town. If the college has a cosmetology department, you may be able to get them done there at a discounted rate. While you do need to get your hair cut now and then, avoid expensive treatments including hair coloring.