Easy Ways to Save Money as a College Student

money in your 20sWhen I was in college, learning how to get by on a little bit of money took some getting used to. By my senior year, it was much easier than my freshmen year. All along the way, I learned tips and tricks to stretch my limited amount of dollars. Here are four tips that I used that helped me to keep my spending in check.

Eat at the Cafeteria

For my first two years in college I had a dinning plan. I had no way of getting to a grocery store, so it was either eat at the cafeteria or call for a pizza to be delivered. Since I could get much more food from the dining hall than a pizza for the same amount of money, I chose to eat there. But I didn’t just eat there. I made sure to treat my meals in the dining hall like a Thanksgiving Day feast! By making sure I filled up there, I reduced the chances of being hungry later and ordering a pizza.

I never took food from the dining hall, I just ate a lot of food while I was there. Make sure you do the same. For most freshmen, the dining hall option is included with your tuition. Since you paid for it, you might as well eat there. After all, the college won’t refund you the money.

Flash You ID Card Everywhere

Many places offer discounts for college students. All you have to do is show your college ID. I regularly received a reduced price to movies, both during the school year and during summer breaks with my ID card. By not showing it, you are giving away your hard earned money.

I also used my college ID card for discounted gym memberships over the summer and for discounted concert tickets. If in doubt, ask for a college discount. You will be surprised how many places will give you a discount.

Skip The Cable

Cable is expensive. While others in my dorm were paying for cable TV, I skipped it and watched cable for free. How did I do this? Each floor in my dorm had a common area with a TV that had cable. There was also another TV with cable when you first walk into the dorm. There was always a TV that no one was watching in the dorm. I would just go and find a TV and start watching. In the rare event that all of the TVs were I use, I would head to the building with the bookstore to watch TV. There was a small restaurant there that closed early, but had a big screen TV. At night, the dining area was empty, so I could sit there and watch TV on the big screen.

Car Pool

By my junior year, I had a car on campus. Since I was the only one of my friends that had a car, I was the chauffeur for everyone. I worked out deals with my roommates and friends for driving them around. For my roommates, we would split the grocery bill up four ways, but then they each contributed $5 more than me to cover the gas expenses.

For my friends that weren’t roommates, they either just paid me a few dollars for gas or they would buy the pizza if we were up late at night studying.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to save money while in college. These are just four of the ways I was able to spend. As I mentioned before, at first finding how to survive college financially took some work, but we tend to adapt fairly quickly and by the time I was a senior, I was able to find many ways to save money.

Readers, what are ways you saved money while in college?

12 Responses to Easy Ways to Save Money as a College Student

  1. Michelle says:

    I still carry around my student ID. You never know when it can save you money!

  2. Student discounts are great. I haven’t been in college for nearly 30 years, so I don’t remember any details, but I do remember using my student ID card a lot.

  3. Joe says:

    Some of my roomates had a car so we could get to the grocery store. Once we could do that, it was much cheaper to cook for ourselves. Dorm food was pretty expensive as I recall.

  4. Micro says:

    I would say a huge way to save is to get yourself a resident assistant position in the dorms. The pay isn’t much but you usually get free room and board. That basically wipes out a huge expense for college. I got to do it and had a choice of meal plans to pick from. Since I couldn’t burn through the meals before the end of the semester, I always got to stock up on juice and snacks for break.

  5. I was so sick of the on campus food at one point each year I just had to stop eating it.

  6. Crystal says:

    Get roommates! I saved thousands a year by having roommates. :-)

  7. Student IDs are the best! One way to save is be a working student. Be a tutor or a student assistant. Pay is not much but will surely be enough to save an extra.

  8. My son is just starting to look at universities for next year. I cant believe how much it costs to stay in university accomodation compared to private renting in the local area. Nearly 50% extra. My son says its worth it for the better social scene – i said its bad for your wallet because you can spend the extra money your spending for your rent on beer and social life instead.
    I know its 25 years since i was at Uni – but I just cant believe how expensive it is

  9. I like the car pool idea. One other idea is to take public transit if available or ride a bike.

  10. I agree. With my student ID card I get a lot of price reductions at restaurants and for transit. Every monday the grocery store near my place has a 15% for students with their ID. That’s really great for me.

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