Article | 3:33 min read

How to Save Money While in College

Life Events

As a college student, it can be tough finding ways to save money. Check out these tips so you can reach your financial goals.

College student using smartphone

No matter how you look at it, going to college isn’t cheap. For most college students, this is the first time having to know how to budget and manage money on your own. Rising tuition costs and living expenses make it increasingly challenging for students to stick to a budget.

How to Start Saving:

As a freshman, you may not have to worry too much about this, since your housing costs typically include everything. It's a different story for upperclassmen who live off-campus.

At the beginning of every month, you should create a monthly budget. Start with your monthly income, which may come from financial aid, scholarships, or jobs. Then, create a list of your expenses, starting with the most important - rent, utilities, and groceries. Create a fund for social activities and try to put any money left over in a savings account.

Above all, you have to stick to your budget. You are only hurting yourself if you dip into your savings account so you can have money to go out on the weekend. Even spontaneous moments, such as grocery shopping on an empty stomach, should be avoided. There are numerous online services you can utilize to help create a budget, such as personal financial management tools like Money Manager.

Money Tips:

Whether you're attending community college or a four year university, there are some do’s and don’ts’ for smart money spending while in college.

  1. Start Investing
    After you create your monthly budget, if you have any money left over, consider starting to invest. You can open a high yield savings account or put those savings into a Roth IRA.
  2. Visit your local bank
    Ask your bank about checking and savings accounts specifically designed for students. Student checking accounts often have lower fees and no minimum balance required. You can even take advantage of your bank’s mobile app to track your balance and avoid expensive overdraft charges.
  3. Buy Used Books or Rent Books
    You cannot realistically go through your entire college education without reading the required textbooks. How else will you complete reading assignments, homework, and study for tests? Textbooks are expensive; therefore, students should always check for used books first at the bookstore or online. Or consider renting your textbooks in case it’s a textbook you won’t need to keep after college. Remember, if you purchase a textbook, consider selling it back at the end of the semester.
  4. Take advantage of student discounts
    Discounts are available on everything from activities to food for those with a valid student ID.
  5. Limit your meals out
    Student discounts aside, eating out regularly adds up. If you bought a meal plan at your school, use it as much as you can. If you don’t have a meal plan, try cooking!
    Another thing that can be costly is your daily caffeine habit. As much as you may need that coffee to help you survive early mornings or late-night study sessions, spending money on coffee adds up. Instead, invest in a coffee maker and make your coffee at home.
  6. Consider if you need a car
    If you live on or close to your college campus, you may not have a need for a car. Parking, gas, insurance, and unexpected repairs are costly. Instead use public transportation and see if your college or apartment offers free shuttles. If you need to go longer distances, ask your friend to borrow their car. Uber and Lyft are also affordable when you need to go off-campus.
  7. Limit or split subscriptions
    Limiting and or splitting your subscriptions for services like Netflix or Hulu with your roommates or family members can help you save money. Some subscriptions like Spotify offer specific rates for college students.
  8. Explore campus amenities
    Check out activities and amenities that are available on your campus. For example, if your college offers you a free gym, there is no need to pay for a gym membership elsewhere.
  9. Stay focused
    Many students do not complete their degree within four years, and every additional semester is a big expense. To make sure you are on track, take advantage of university resources like tutoring and academic advising.
  10. Get a Job
    Getting work, even if it's part-time, will give you monthly income and help you become even more independent while in school. That monthly income can teach you financial responsibility. Most of your time in college is - hopefully - spent learning new ideas. Personal finances can, and should be, included in that education.

The information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as the opinion of Central Bancompany, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and does not imply endorsement or support of any of the mentioned information, products, services, or providers. All information presented is without any representation, guaranty, or warranty regarding the accuracy, relevance, or completeness of the information.