I want you guys to save as much as can during college so that you can graduate with enough money to not be afraid and crush the outside world with your financial skills.
No, this article doesn’t teach you about multiple ways to drink water and starve all day, but it teaches you effective and extremely practical tips on How To Save Money And Go To College. Let’s get started!
33 Money-Saving Hacks For College Students
1. Make Budgeting Your Best Pal
As a college student, you’re going to spend money. Keeping track of what you spend on and how much you spend will keep you from overspending and make you more aware of your expenses.
Here’s Kevin’s Budgeting Scale. I can clearly see that his expenses outweigh his income. Let me remind you, this isn’t a good deal! Your expenses should be less and income must be greater than expenses; INCOME > EXPENSES.
Your budget doesn’t need to be complicated with numbers and calculations. Create an excel sheet or download a note-taking app and start filling it up with all the expenses you do during the day for a month.
Then add these expenses. Subtract it from your income (assuming you do a part-time or full-time job) and there you go, your basic monthly budget is ready for assessment.
Now you need to go through each expense and see if you could reduce the amount spent on it or if you could completely avoid it.
Your income should always be more than your expenses and you must always store some money away for unexpected expenses, we’ll talk more about unexpected expenses at another point.
2. Stay Debt Free
According to Investopedia, the average student loan debt has reached a new peak of $37,500 in 2020. That’s a huge number.
Although President Biden has extended the break on student loan payments, I wouldn’t suggest you stop paying your debts completely.
Almost every college student has debt for several years after they graduate, many continue to pay off their debt even after their wedding, so it’s best that you continue paying your student loan or at least make minimum payments each month.
If you don’t have student loan debt, then don’t take up new debts, but if you do then following the Debt Snowball approach is a great idea.
If you have a lot of debt, paying off the smallest debt has proved to boost confidence and motivate the person to pay debt consistently.
3. Ditch Expensive Habits
If you want to learn about saving, you’ve got to control your expenses, Period! Most people get it wrong when it comes to cutting costs; they focus on cutting those costs that aren’t expensive i.e petty expenses like daily cups of coffee.
Instead, your focus should be to cut costs of those expenses that are high on your budget i.e expensive items like a new phone or a laptop, dinner once a week or new clothes.
These take a lot more money than a cup of coffee. Sometimes just by cutting such expensive costs, you can notice 20% extra cash flow, now that’s awesome! (Reminder – you don’t need to spend money on Spotify Premium or Amazon Prime, their free plans are good enough)
4. Plan Your Purchases
A planned purchase is better than an unplanned purchase. By knowing that you need to buy a new phone in two months, you’ll start preparing for that.
You can cut a few costs and save money for a new phone or work extra hours to earn more or you’ll do both (best option).
Once you prepare a strategy for your planned purchase, the process gets easier and you know that by purchasing that item you’re not harming your finances in any way.
5. Follow The Grocery List (Always!)
Have you ever gone out for grocery shopping? After you came back from the grocery store, did you notice things that you didn’t plan to buy? I’m sure there are at least two such things in the grocery bill.
These are impulsive spends, you saw it and thought that it would be necessary but 7/10 times it’s not.
Rule of thumb is 30 minutes before you head out to a grocery store, make a list, add all the items you’re planning to buy, all the things you need and a few things for your cravings.
Once you have shortlisted everything you are planning to buy, go to the store and make cash purchases. Yes! cash is the way to go if saving is the way you want to go.
6. Make Two Piggy Banks (Emergency Fund)
You’re a warrior so what exactly does a warrior do? Create two piggy banks?
I don’t literally mean a piggy bank! I mean two savings accounts – one that you must use for your expenses and savings and the other one for your unexpected expenses aka Emergency Fund.
Please don’t tell me you’re confident you won’t run into unexpected expenses in your entire college student life?
A warrior always prepares for the worst outcome, always has a backup plan ready on command. Just like a warrior, your Emergency Fund is a backup plan and storing your cash in a Bank account translates to a backup plan ready on command (banks are highly liquid).
7. Make Cooking Your Passion
I’m sure by now you know that eating outdoors isn’t cheap. You might have rich friends in college, they don’t hesitate to spend because they have a lot of money in their pockets, they’ll keep spending on dinners at fancy restaurants twice a week but you can’t do that.
You need to have money for your day to day expenses, for unexpected expenses and simply just to increase your wealth. Google and YouTube are two great platforms where you can learn to cook.
There’s a professional chef on YouTube for each type of cuisine, with so many recipes out there, it’s extremely easy to become a good chef.
8. Don’t Confuse Yourself With Mobile Plans
Mobile plans confuse the hell out of me. First of all, there are so many different mobile carriers, they have 10 different plans to choose from, each plan has some problem with it and I end up changing it again and again.
To make things simpler, I look for two things, one is unlimited calling and texting and second is brand. If the brand is recognisable and prices are reasonable, I choose that plan.
Do the math before you randomly choose a plan. Prefer prepaid over postpaid cause according to my experiences, prepaid is cheaper and you can change plans easily.
9. Be Calculative and Rational
Money is a numbers game. You make some, you spend some, you invest some and you save some. To be good with money, you need to be rational and attentive.
When your classmate is buying a packet of pasta and asks you to do the same, will you blindly pick a packet based on his suggestions or will you be rational, think about it and then make a decision?
Questions like how much does it cost? Does the cost outweigh the benefit it provides? Can I survive without this commodity?
You can buy the pasta packets if the answers seem logical to you. The more you’re good with basic additions and subtractions, the better chances you’ll have at being financially sound.
10. Learn Anything and Everything
The more you learn, the more you grow. So by learning more strategies on how to save money or how to make money as a college student or investing strategies will benefit you in the long run.
This may not directly affect your budget but learning good money principles is a great way to grow financially.
11. Find Online Coupons & New Apps
There are multiple money-saving apps on the Play Store as well as the Apple Store that will focus on goals and help you to save money and focus on the bigger picture. Did you say Groupon!!!
There’s no shame to use coupons even if they save pennies. You’re in college, every penny counts, so you better use those coupons and money-saving apps you get.
12. Work Part Time In College
Being financially independent doesn’t only mean saving money. If you’re not currently working, it means you are living on your parent’s money, while that’s not wrong, it’s not even right. If you can earn you should earn.
Many college students work full time, if that’s not feasible try finding part-time work and get paid for it. Then save a part of that money and spend the rest on things you want to buy. You’ll learn many new things as you work and earn.
13. Stay in College Campus or Rent A House
Staying on a college campus may not be cheaper than renting a house and renting a house may not be cheaper than staying on campus.
Whether you should stay on campus or rent a house depends on the cost of both the places. Renting may be cheaper if you and your friends club in and stay.
If you’re renting make sure you stay in a place close to your college or else you’ll have to spend on transportation.
14. Share OTT Subscriptions
Netflix, Amazon Prime or whatever OTT Subscriptions you currently use is creating a large hole in your pocket, I know it! Netflix alone is expensive, plus it’s not a productive tool it’s exactly the opposite of that. But I get it, you want Netflix and Chill.
Instead of completely avoiding such movie shows, share the subscriptions with your college friends. Buy the most expensive Netflix package and share it among 8 friends.
Bamm you’re hardly paying money and streaming content in 4k! If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is!
15. Apply For Scholarship & Grants
This one is obvious, if you can study well, apply for scholarships and grants, you don’t need to worry about tuition costs and fees.
They’ll be paid by the college, all you need to do is study well and make their college proud.
There may be awards or mini-grants that also pay your expenses, these may not be as big as actual scholarships but they do offer a decent amount. Ask your college if they have such programs.
16. Teach New Students
Freshers are new and take time to adjust to the atmosphere, study patterns and lifestyle of the college. Many students can’t cope up with studying all the subjects and getting great marks.
If you’re a scholar or you know a few subjects well, teach new students to understand concepts and score well in their exams.
Don’t charge them a hefty price, remember you were once in their position so charge them a reasonable amount.
17. Always Buy Used Textbooks
Books can be real money out of the bank situation. You can easily overspend and you can’t even blame yourself for that, cause education is important right!
But by using second-hand textbooks you’re literally reducing your costs by 70%. If your library has the books you need, you don’t need to buy books at all.
You can avoid book purchases completely by making notes and paying attention during lectures.
18. Eat Less Meat
This is funny but meat is costly. Try to live frugally and save money by reducing your meat consumption to once a week.
If you’re thinking that vegetarian food isn’t appealing, visit an authentic vegetarian cuisine restaurant or cafe and taste their food. I’m sure you’ll be drooling.
That doesn’t mean you eat at restaurants all the time. Learn to cook food at your place, you’ll save money, this money can be used to pay off your loans or it can pay for your books.
19. Learn A Skill Then Start Freelancing
Work from home is a trendy job profile now and freelancing is the best work from home job out there. It’s flexible, lucrative, not that difficult and a reputable job profile.
You can start freelancing with no money upfront and make loads of money assuming your skills are good enough and you learn how to market your services.
If you’re getting started with freelancing, here are the Top 10 Freelancing Platforms To Earn A Living
20. Only Use Public Transport
Generally, college students get heavy discounts or free tickets on public transportation. You’ve got to make the best use of this amazing deal.
Your entire college time, transportation will be the least important cost in your mind cause the amount will be hardly anything.
Of course, if you splurge on a new car, that won’t be the case but I’m hoping you won’t spend that much because you are a saver and savers don’t indulge themselves in irrelevant expenses.
You could also consider using a cycle (that hardly costs anything) or walk to college if the distance isn’t too much. You’ll burn calories and stay fit while saving money and protecting the environment!
21. Ask For A Useful Gift
Fill up your birthday gifts with needs instead of wants. Ask for items that will bring value to you in college.
What will help you and ease your college life, maybe it’s textbooks, a coffee machine, gift cards, a new laptop or clothes for winter.
Mostly your family and relatives give you gifts that aren’t useful and practical to your current life.
Expensive items are great but they aren’t useful and won’t help you in your college life. Maybe your current laptop is slow and is wasting your time, a new laptop can fasten your work.
22. Use Your Credit Cards At Minimum
Credit cards are bad, but they do have one good thing about them – credit score. A credit score is a number given to an individual’s credit borrowed to determine credit worthiness of an individual.
Multiple factors determine your score. If you’re using a credit card, make sure you use it at minimum, use it for groceries, shopping and that’s it.
Pay it off immediately using your bank account savings. Do this once a month and your credit score will be high. Banks will trust you more and if you ever need a loan, you’ll get it at cheaper interest rates.
23. Quit Smoking & Drinking
Smoking and drinking are like eating breakfast and lunch for most college students. Let’s face it, drinking a beer may not be expensive but drinking it every other day can get high really fast.
I won’t tell you to stop drinking or smoking, that’s your decision, your health. My job is to help you financially and from a financial perspective spending on drinks can get expensive.
24. Learn To Stitch Your Clothes
You’ll likely buy many clothes in the college lifetime, I like buying new clothes and I’m sure you’re the same. Unless you get high discounts, shopping can seem too out of the charts.
Learn to stitch your clothes, that way you’ll not spend that much money, you can customise your clothing and your friends will love seeing you with unique clothes that they can’t find anywhere.
Best case scenario – people around you may like your clothes so much that they’ll ask you to make it for them, thus you start your new business venture and earn while being a college student.
25. Become A College Ambassador
Does travelling excite you? Do you want to travel for free? Well, a college ambassador might be your go-to job idea to make money during college.
The pay may not be great but you get to travel and promote your college to students. It’s a fun way to earn and travel.
26. Avoid Expensive Parties (Even if someone else funds for it)
Parties are amazing, especially when you’re not the one paying for it. Maybe every time there’s a party your friends organize it, they call you and you don’t say no.
That makes sense till they ask you to give a party. Now it gets expensive and way out of budget. The problem is you don’t know what to say if you say no, they’ll stop talking to you and if you say yes, you’ll be broke and won’t be able to live.
Either way, you’re toasted. Save yourself from this mess by simply avoiding any such parties where someone else pays the bills.
Life is a circle, don’t expect someone else to pay all the time, eventually, you’ll be the one paying end and the costs will be beyond your expectations.
27. Don’t Hesitate To Share Clothes & Accessories With Your Friends
Following this tip is a great way to double your wardrobe by spending absolutely nothing.
Exchange clothes with your friends, let them wear what you wear and you wear what they wear. That way you never fall short of clothes, you always look new and you don’t need to pay for new clothes.
While exchanging clothes, don’t borrow inner garments and ensure the clothes you wear are washed before and after you use it nicely.
28. Try Free Software Alternatives
With so many free software’s out there today, you don’t need to spend a penny on a paid expensive software at all.
For example, the free alternative to Microsoft Office is Google Docs/Sheets/Slides, free alternative to Picmonkey is Canva. You get it, search for “free alternative to _____” on Google and you’ll be shown multiple different free softwares that will save your pockets.
Although free softwares usually doesn’t have the best features when compared to paid ones, if you’re right on Money, free softwares is your go-to Honey!
29. Never Do Grocery Shopping On An Empty Stomach
Pinkie Promise me that you’ll never EVER go to a grocery store on an empty stomach. If you think you have very strong mind control and you won’t fall into such silly grocery store straps, work for 4 additional hours this week, take this money, head over to the grocery store (on an empty stomach) and shop.
At the counter, do a rough calculation of how much you’ve spent. The only question I want to ask you is – Did you wish you worked for 6 hours that week or 8 hours?
I hope you get the point, never go to a store when you’re hungry (the same logic applies for clothing & accessories).
30. Unsubscribe From All Marketing Emails
The power of Email Marketing is beyond your thinking, businesses that use email marketing to promote and sell their products do so well cause emails are personalized and are an easy way to talk to customers. Don’t believe me?
Here’s an article by Ryan Pinkham on the benefits of email marketing for businesses. The sole purpose of the business is to get you glued to your email and subtly force you to purchase their product or service.
You might think an email is so basic and simple looking but there’s a lot that goes into the structure solely focusing on maximising sales.
Now that’s not a bad thing, a business helps you by solving your problems and for that, it takes a fee but when you’re being frugal, when you don’t have enough money in the bank, it’s safe to push aside such marketing for good.
Unsubscribe from all emails and you’ll do yourself some good.
31. Buy Things During Off Seasons
Has your family purchased a Christmas tree on the 27th of December? If yes then you know why they do that.
Businesses charge high prices for commodities that are essential during specific seasons like, during winter, jackets and warm sweaters are a must so the prices increase for such goods.
If you buy the same sweater in summer, the prices will be low. That’s your cue, grab a few warm clothes or whatever it is you want, spend it during off-seasons.
32. Sell Things If You Don’t Use Them Anymore
Look around and you’ll start seeing items that you haven’t touched in ages. Everything has a value, so if you’re not using those things, it’s time to clean up the mess, sell these items on online resale platforms and make money from second-hand products.
Clean the item with a dry and wet cloth, if it’s an electronic see if it works properly (you don’t want to sell an item that doesn’t work), click good bright pictures of the items and set a price that’s not too costly.
People will buy from you, you’ll get some cash by doing practically nothing and now your room looks a tad bit cleaner and minimalistic. Hurrah!
33. Don’t Waste Your Time
There’s no way around it, you can’t waste time. In your college life, time is more valuable than money, so every hour counts.
If you waste time all the time with your friends you’re likely to struggle in the latter part of your life. You live only once, don’t you want to earn a lot of money so you could travel and buy things you’d love to?
Don’t you want to stay in expensive luxurious places and not worry about the bills? I believe that every time you waste time, there’s someone else who’s willing to work hard, who’s willing to take the effort and time to find success because he too wants to live a life where money won’t be a problem ever.
We all have 24 hours in a day, I’m not forcing you to work all the time. Even if you work for 3 hours a day out of these 24 hours, that’s fine.
As long as you’re doing what others aren’t, you’re growing. These lessons are essential because you’ll learn to save money once you value time.
Should A College Student Get A Credit Card?
Short Answer – No, you don’t need to use a credit card
Long Answer – You don’t need a credit card to work your way into happy college life. Credit cards mean debt and that means you owe the bank money.
Even if you pay it in the future before the said time, there’s always a risk, always a possibility for something to go wrong. Want to purchase something, use a debit card or buy in cash.
How Much Should I Save As A College Student?
How much you should save depends on how much you can save + A little more. What I mean is; let’s right now you can save 22% of your monthly income.
This is the money you can save, add another 5 – 10% to this to get your ideal amount per month to save during college. If this approach seems mathematically challenging, try the 50-30-20 rule of budgeting by Elizabeth Warren.
50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20% towards savings. Ideally, if you can save more, you should become a rich man who has the maximum money left after spending, not the man who earned the most.
Try The 30 Day Rule!
If you want to save money aggressively, try this method. The 30 Day Rule is a rule to reduce impulsive buying habits. When you feel the urge to buy an item on impulse, note it down in a book or your phone.
Then after 30 days look back at the book and see if you still want to make that purchase. Most often you’ll observe that your inclination to buy that item vanishes.
So if you would’ve purchased it on that day, you would’ve wasted your money. But if you still feel you want the item, don’t hesitate any more and make the purchase.
Where Should I Put My Savings As A Student?
This depends on your risk-bearing capacity. If you are willing to take some risk, I recommend you invest a part of it in Mutual Funds and the Stock Market. Save the rest.
If you’re already in debt or you’re running away from risk, consider Certificate of Deposits (CD) or Fixed Deposits (FD) that the bank provides you as a customer to earn better interest than your savings account.
Should I Start Budgeting From Today?
Believe it or not, till when you don’t start understanding where your money goes each month (you can accomplish this through budgeting), saving money will be tough.
You might make a ton of money, work hard each week and bring home a good amount but if you don’t understand the flow of money, the reason why you spend even if you should not, your financial journey will be tougher than you expect it to be. So I definitely honestly sincerely suggest you start budgeting right now!
How Can I Make More Money?
How To Start Budgeting As A College Student?
There you go, 33 tips that will help you come out of college with money in your bank. With these tips, you should have a good idea of how to budget and be financially responsible.
Budgeting is all about how you cut costs, increase income and ensure you don’t buy a new iPhone the minute it’s available. It’s about saving money, thinking about the future, your long term goals, etc.
Does this mean you don’t spend any money on cravings or that new iPhone? Not at all, once a while you can spend the money provided you make up for it later (that may be working more hours or saving money aggressively or both).
I’ll link a few articles and resources that will help you understand Money a little better. I hope it helps!
If you want to learn more, I suggest you browse through these topics and understand what I’m trying to explain.
My budgeting worksheet should be enough to help you budget, if you don’t like it then make one using Excel spreadsheet or use a budgeting app.
Anyways, If you have any questions or ideas on how to save money during your college days, let me know in the comments. I’ll add it to this list.
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