A Big List on How to Save Money in College

Finances/ Credit Cards/ Investing

Avoid ATMs – Most ATM’s apply a surcharge fee for withdrawing money. See if you bank offers free ATM use.

Don’t get a credit card – Credit cards are a mess waiting to happen. If you do have one pay off purchases right away but cards to can lead to splurging.

Have an Emergency Fun – You never know what could happen.

Pay Bills on Time – Not paying your bills on time can result in bad credit or an increase to your interest rate

Free Accounts – Find a bank that gives free student bank accounts

Invest – Pay attention in economics class or do some research and buy a stock. Just make sure you follow the stock market.


Campus Gym – See if you campus has a gym for free student use.

Athletics – Join a school sponsored sport or athletic club.

Exercise DVD’s – Buy work out DVD’s like Hip Hop Abs or The Brazilian Butt Lift.

Go Natural – Run, bike, walk, and jog around campus.

I wish money grew on trees. Photo Credit: schoolloans.org


Don’t Drink – I don’t condone underage or binge drinking in anyway but here below are some tips to save money if you do drink.

Cheap Beer – Natural Ice, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Keystone, Old Milwaukie, etc your typical cheap college beers.

Parties – Go to parties where you can have free alcohol.

Personal Brew – Brew your own beer or wine but double check with your dorm rules first.

Specials – Find bars and restaurants that offer happy hour or drink specials and only drink during those times.


Drive As Little As Possible – Start walking everywhere. Its good exercise and will save you from putting gas in your tank

Carpool – If you commute to campus start carpooling with other commuters and take turns

Public Transportation – Use public transit whenever possible. A lot of schools offer discounts for bus passes or have their own free shuttle system.

Buses and Trains – The Megabus can take you far distances for as little as $10. Amtrak is also very cheap and don’t forget to try Greyhound.

Skip Spring Break – Of course going to some beach would be totally awesome and amazing but is it really worth it? Not at all, you’ll end up regretting it sometime later in the year when you don’t have money.

AAA – Get a triple A membership to get discounts on travel, hotels, and road side assistance.

Road Trips – Keep road trips short. Don’t drive across five states and think you’ll be able to rough it. Try going somewhere within your state or nearby.

Camping – Very old school but very fun. You can get a camp site at a state park for free or for a cheap price. The only thing else you would have to pay for is food and gas.


Buy in Bulk – Buying in bulk is always cheaper than buying a few things at a time. It also saves you from taking another trip to the grocery store after a week.

Coupons – Don’t go Extreme Couponer but look through the Sunday paper and if you see a coupon for items you purchase then cut it out. Even its 50 cents off a product it will help out in the long run.

Shopper Rewards – CVS, Kmart, Giant, Giant Eagle, and many other stores have shopper rewards cards. These cards can give you discounts on items or a percentage off your entire purchase.

Generic Brands – Ever hear of the saying quality over quantity? Well this never applies to college students. Buy generic brands because they are way cheaper and at the price you won’t care if it doesn’t taste as good as name brand foods.

Plan Meals – Planning meals will help you see what ingredients you really need which brings us to our next tip on the list.

Make a Grocery List – Move over soccer moms, college kids can make grocery lists too. A list will help you stay on task and not over buy things that you really don’t need. Plus it saves you time from wandering around the store.

Meal Plans – Make use of your meal plan if your school provides one. The cost gets covered in your loans so you can pay it off when you have a full time job.

Coffee – A tall latte at Starbucks is over $3 in Pittsburgh and it sure as hell isn’t getting cheaper anywhere else. Skip the café and make your own coffee. If you like flavors you can buy flavored creamers or flavored syrups in grocery stores.


Buy Used or Rent Textbooks – Try Barnes and Noble’s website for used books, check out half.com by eBay for used books, or see if your school store rents out books

Say No to Bookstore Prices – Your college bookstore is usually overpriced for used, rentals, and new books so search elsewhere to save a few bucks.

Electronic Books – Download an electronic book right to your PC or Mac for a smaller price than a hard copy.

End of Semester Sale – Make sure you sell your textbooks back at the end of the year. You won’t usually get the full price but a couple bucks is better than nothing.


Thrifty Shopper – Check out thrift and second hand stores that carry name brand clothing.

Discount Departments – TJ Maxx and Marshalls sell brand name clothing for a portion of the original price.

Sign Up Online – Sign up for Groupon and Livingsocial to get coupons and deals to business and events in your area.

Student ID – Your student ID can get you a ton of discounts or free entry to a ton of places.

Campus Events – Look into campus events like movie showings, concerts, games, etc. They’re usually free or at a discounted price and offer free food.

Netflix – Netflix offers unlimited DVD’s to your doorstep for $7.99 a month.

School Library – See if the school library rents out movies and video games to students.

Water – Ordering water at restaurants can save you a couple dollars every meal. If you’re not a fan of plain water ask for lemon with your water, squeeze the lemon into your glass and add a couple sugar or substitute sweetener packets into the glass. You now have lemonade.

Living Spaces (Rentals and Dorms)

Find a Roommate(s) – If you’re living off campus find a roommate(s). This way you can split the cost of rent and utilities. Make sure find someone you can trust.

Utilities – Find a place that includes utilities in the rent. This way you don’t have to shell out another hundred dollars and its all one bill.

Appliances – Rent from someone that includes appliances such as a washer, dryer and refrigerator. This can save you about $1,000.

Go Low – On air conditioning and heat that is. Keep it to the bare minimum that you can stand.

Unplugged – When you turn off something that electricity is still running through it. Unplug items so save a few bucks.

Lights Off – Keep lights off as much as possible.

Décor – Minimize on decorating. I know it’s really exciting to finally be able to decorate your own space, but it’s not a necessity.

Look familiar? Photo Credit: inspiringinterns.com


Manicure – Learn how to paint your own nails or have a friend do them. That saves you $30 every other week from a manicure.

Hair Cuts – Find a salon that offers student discounts or go to a cosmetology school to have a student cut your hair for free.


Detergent – Buy your own laundry detergent from the super market instead of spending a butt load for little packs at the laundry mat.

Washing – Wash your clothes every other week and fill up the washers to save time and cash.


Student Discounts – Apple and PC offers education stores that sell products to student for a cheaper price. You can also buy software for a student price as well.

Pay as You Go – Consider a pay of you go cell phone plan instead of a monthly plan with all that extra charges.

Socializing – To minimize phone bills try instant messaging, email, and/or Skype.

How to Make Money

Sell Old Clothes – Take your unwanted clothes to a thrift store that purchases name brands.

Have a yard sale – Sell all of your unwanted junk for a few bucks.

Recycle for cash – Some places take aluminum cans for 10 cents apiece.

Collect your change – A little change can go a long way if you keep it in a jar.

Sell Yourself – No not prostitution! Sell your expertise such as tutoring, repair services, music lessons, etc

Part-Time Job – Find a part-time job. A lot of schools can help you find one. It’s not impossible to keep a job and get good grades in college.

Work Study – Ask your school if your work study applicable. You can make minimum wage by working at your school. It’s very convenient because they work around your class schedule.

Yard Work – Rake some leaves, mow lawns, gardening. You can do all of this and charge for it.

Babysitting – Find parents to babysit or if you’re not a fan of children try pet sitting.


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