Ways to Save Money In College

The spring college semester is making its way here, and while for some of us that means excitement to see friends, parties, and booze, the rest of us are stuck thinking about how we’re going to stretch our winter break’s worth of savings until May. Luckily for you, I’ve created a list of the different ways that you can save some mulah this semester. Thank me later.

Be… (Dare I say it?) Frugal.

No, I am not the type to gloat about how frugal I am, because frugal is one of the main things that I am not. And who can blame me in this day and age where everything is so easily accessible and the only thing between you and that new outfit Beyonce’s wearing is your credit card and a few shipping trucks. Guilty as charged– literally.

But, if you’re trying to save money, one thing that you’ve got to keep in mind is that you’ve actually got to save. And the only way to do that is by being somewhere between the lines of somewhat frugal and extremely frugal. So rather than buying a new outfit every week, try repurposing some clothes (mix and matching some outfit ideas).

Also, limit eating out. I know, I know– all your buddies are heading to the bar down the road and you decided that wing night there is better than the slop they’re serving for dinner at the caf. It’s not. Save your money, and actually use your meal plan. Rather than buying coffee from the campus’s starbucks every morning, trade that in for a cheap dorm-made cup of joe every morning– it’s much more satisfying when you have a barista make it, I know, but your jingling, coin-filled pockets will thank you later.

Another piece of advice I can give in the area of frugality is also to limit the idea that you have to save everyone from brokeness just because you currently have money in your pockets. You DO NOT need to play captain save a hoe everytime you go to the nightclub, and pay for all of your broke friends. If the people that you hang out with often do not have the funds to go to certain places, offer up some free hang out ideas like a movie night. Do not spend $25 more than you normally would’ve just to have one night’s worth of fun– I promise you, it’s probably not worth it.

Buy Used Textbooks

Ah, every college student’s first week nightmare– the books. I’ve met many people in my day who refuse to buy cheaper college textbooks because they like to show up to class the first day with their brand-spanking-new book. Don’t be like those people. Websites like Chegg.com, Amazon.com, and even Yuzu.com (powered through Barnes & Noble) offer online versions of textbooks, cheaper rentals, and used textbooks for those who do not want to spend the exorbitant prices that their school bookstores offer their students. Save them coinz.

I remember in my sophomore year finding an online rental version of a textbook for $160 less than what was being offered at my University’s bookstore. When I went to class, I found that it was much easier to write notes using my laptop, and find answers to my professor’s questions using the search feature on the rental’s website. One of the girls in my class asked me how much I paid for the rental, and after I told her, she was still skeptical because she said she likes to have the physical textbook on hand. I could respect that, but my pockets were still jingling when I left the classroom, and I could’ve sworn I heard hers moaning and groaning from starvation. *Kanye Shrug*

Below is a list of websites that offer New & Used Textbooks at discounted rates:


HPB.com (Half Priced Books)





Below is a list of websites that offer Free Online Textbooks:






Become a Resident Advisor

Being an RA was and still is one of the most coveted jobs at every University. The reason being that Resident Advisors get free room and board. That could cut your tuition costs in more than half depending on what University you go to.

This job is also amazing for allowing you to get to know your peers, make friends, and most importantly freshing up your resume while you’re in school. Being in a role as important as being responsible for a dorm full of people looks absolutely amazing on a stduent’s resume. It shows responsibility, grit, and that you don’t mind being involved as a leader.

Match that with the fact that you’re receiving work-study credit, free room and board, and possibly your very own room, and you should already be marching down to your campus’s Resident Life & Housing building right now to fill out your application for the upcoming semester.

Be Road-Smart

In most states, by the time you turn 16 you have the ability to get your driver’s permit and if you’re really lucky, you get your own car. Many kids who get to college have the luxury of having everything at their footsteps– food, healthcare, convenient stores, and for many schools a lot more.

If that’s the case, why is it that I find so many college students travelling 30 minutes away from campus weekly to visit a huge shopping mall, bringing in their own vehicles on campus just to drive down the road to the local walmart, and so many other gas guzzling activities?

Campus commuters require a car to get to school and back home, but residents do not. They can easily take the walk from their dorm room to their 8:00 am class in 15 minutes or less– why not just save the motor oil and take the morning walk? Or skip out on the shopping mall once a week and head down to the student union? In my years of experience, I realized that I spent much less money in college when I would leave the car at home (don’t kill me for saying this).

It also made sense when I’d see some other students riding bikes or skateboards around campus. It saves on maintenance and repairs, gas, and other small things that happen to car drivers like receiving parking or driving tickets.

Also, when you leave the car at home, the trips that you do take home to see your family can either be free by taking a ride with someone who may live nearby or even by bus! Amtrak and Greyhound both offer great student discounts, and I highly recommend checking them out to see which way would be ultimately cheaper to get home every once in a while.


Parents can only help you so much while you’re in college. Though it would be nice to have parents who coddle you throughout your college experience and help you with your every financial need, it’s impractical for most of us and not the best way to start your adult life. Follow just a few of these tips, and I’m sure you’ll save just a little more than your friends this coming semester.

2 thoughts on “Ways to Save Money In College

  1. I’m a recent college graduate and after 4 years at a University I can say some of these points really resonate. Also I wish I knew some of these tactics/ideas when I was still in school! I could’ve saved some money — great read.

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