Money Saving Tips for College Students

Money is something a lot of people struggle with. It’s in everyone’s life, and we all depend on it for survival. But, as college students, we don’t always have tons of money at our disposal. Going to college costs a lot, and they are a lot of expenses that we also have to think about. At the end of the day, our bank account isn’t growing much.

Money is something a lot of people struggle with. It's in everyone's life, and we all depend on it for survival. But, as college students, we don't always have tons of money at our disposal. Want to save some money? Click through to find out you can do it!

I’m lucky enough to have parents that pay for my tuition and textbooks. But I still have to work and kick my own butt in order to save some money for future projects (more on that in a future blog post!). Ever since I’ve started to work at the library, I took good care of my money. I tried not to spend a lot and am very cautious of what is going in and out of my bank account. I’m no finances guru, but I like to think that I have a few tips to give when it comes to saving money. 

Use discounts

Did you know that a lot of stores have student discounts? Use that to your advantage! Some stores offer a certain percentage off your purchases when you show them your student ID. 10 or 15% might not seem like a lot, but if you use it often, it can definitely make a difference in your bank account!

Lowest price policy

Another tip that my mom uses often if the “lowest price policy” one. This one is particularly effective for grocery shopping. In Quebec, when you present another grocery store’s flyer with a lower price than what’s offered, the item is given to you for that price! If you use it for a lot of items, you can save up to 10 or 20$! Of course, that requires more work on your part because you have to do your research before you do your grocery shopping, but it can be very worth it in the end!

Coupons

Another way you can save up some money is by using coupons. I’m not expert on that one so I’m going to go over it quickly, but just know that you can sometimes get some great deals with couponing! Then again, that requires a bit more work, but it’ll help you save up at least a couple of dollars!

A lot of stores offer discount codes or coupons for your birthday and other special occasions. Don’t forget to use them! Sometimes it can make a great difference in your bank account.

Don’t buy it unless you need it

That’s my best tip. I know what you’re thinking: “Amelie, that is so obvious!”. I know, but, surprisingly, it’s not always that easy. I mentioned before that I hated shopping so that tip has been easy for me to apply, especially when it comes to clothing. But, I’ve always been a fan of makeup and books, so I sometimes had to restrain myself so I wouldn’t go overboard and buy things that I didn’t really need. Every time I feel like buying something and I’m not sure if I should splurge or not, I ask myself a couple of question. Do I already own something similar? How will I use this new item, do I already have something to pair it with? Is it good quality? If I can answer positively to all of those questions, then I buy it. This system has helped me save quite a lot of money.

With beauty products, I wait until I have emptied something until I rebuy it. I own one mascara, one foundation, one eyebrow powder… and the list goes on. The only thing that I have duplicates of is lipstick. I have a couple of them, but there all in a different shade. I don’t have two nude lipstick. I wait until I’m finished with the one I’m currently using until I buy a new one. That helps me really test a product and it helps me save money.

Shop with cash

For those of you who are impulsive and avid shoppers, this trick is probably my favorite! It can be so easy to overspend when you just have to swipe your credit or debit card, so my tip to avoid it is to go shopping with only cash! If you already know what you’re looking for, bring around just enough money so you can buy it. That way, you won’t be tempted to buy anything else with it… because you won’t have enough money! You’ll have to think more carefully about what you’re buying and how much you’re spending. Of course, that works only if you don’t bring your credit or debit card with you. If you have both, it doesn’t change anything!

Figure out a budget

Budgeting can seem scary, but I swear it’s not that complicated! I think every college student should at least start creating a small budget so they have a better idea of what they’re spending their money on. If you know you’re tight on money, or simply if you want to start saving for a big project, budgeting is your new best friend. What I suggest is to start by logging everything that comes and go into your bank account. I log all of my expenses and income in an Excel file and also write what type of expense it is. That way, I get a pretty good idea of my spending habits. Once you know how you’re spending your money, it’s time to start budgeting!

Start by seeing what expenses are fixed (those who are regular like rent, groceries, etc.) and what are variables (like haircuts or prescriptions that you fill on an on-need basis). I would also suggest comparing how much money is getting into your account and how much is getting out. If you spend more than what you have, you might get in the red pretty quickly. Adapt your spending to the money you’re getting. Also, define what are “needs” and what are “wants”. Make sure you’re spending more money on your needs than on things you want. If the opposite is happening, cut back on how much you’re spending on unnecessary stuff. What I suggest is giving yourself a certain amount of money everyone for “extras” that you don’t really need. Let’s say 10% of your budget goes into your extras category. You can use that money to pay for those PSL, lunch dates with friends or that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing for a while. Don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while!

Savings are an important part of your budget. Don’t forget to set aside a certain amount every week (or bi-weekly or monthly, depending on how often you’re getting money).

If you’re looking for more budgeting tips, Sara from Sara Laughed has written an amazing in-depth post about how to make your first budget in college!

Try not to eat out too often

Personally, eating out is what takes the most part of my expenses. Every time I meet up with my friends, it’s for lunch or dinner in a fast-food or a restaurant. It might not seem like it, but it can rise up quickly! Now, I’m not saying that you should never eat out, ever. But, try to reduce how many times you eat out. Instead, start cooking! You can even invite your friends over and all cook together or have a potluck kind of thing where everyone brings something. Making your own food will be a lot less expensive than buying out.

Make a list before you go shopping

You’re going to Target to buy shampoo, but next thing you know, you’ve spent $100 on beauty products, clothes, jewelry and stationery. What?! How did that happen?

Seem familiar? If you tend to be an impulsive buyer when you go shopping, then go with a list. Check up the prices online for what you want before you head to the store, make a list of all the items that you need with the prices next to it and then, hit the stores. Having a goal will help you stick to it, and your list will be a reminder of what you’re really here for.

Drink water

Not only is water the healthiest drink you could get, but it’s also the only one that’s free, at least in North American restaurants. Carry around a bottle of water that you can refill throughout the day. Not only will you always be hydrated, but it’s also more eco-friendly and lot less expensive! Also, you can post pics of your cute water bottle on Instagram. 😉

Find a job

If you’re really looking for a way to earn money fast, then I suggest you start looking for a job, if you don’t already have one. There can be some on-campus jobs that can help you make a little money on the side without having you work crazy hours. No matter what you choose, remember that school should always remain your top prioritySet some ground rules with your employer from the beginning. They are usually really understanding and flexible, especially during finals and midterms. I wrote a whole post about how to balance blogging, work, and college if you’re looking for time management tips!

Make your own coffee

I’m no coffee fan, but every post about saving money that I read was firm on this one! If you buy your coffee every day, it can add up really quickly. Let’s say it cost you $1.40 dollars for coffee. Well, 30 days later, you will have spent $42 dollars on coffee. What?! Imagine how much that is in a year! (about $500 dollars, btw) Instead, make your own! It’s not that complicated and you will save up a lot of money by doing this. If you like fancy Starbucks coffee, hit up Pinterest for some DIY recipes!

Avoid driving

Having a car drinks up a lot of your income. You have to pay for gas, sometimes parking, insurance… Instead, try to use the bus, walk or bike to get to the places you want. It might take more time, but you’ll be saving a lot of money by doing this! You could also carpool with your friends and split the cost of gas.

Saving money in college can be hard and scary, but it’s totally possible! You just need a little bit of discipline and motivation. 🙂

What are your tips for saving money?

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  • Shaina McGregor

    Finally another college blogger! I wrote a blog post similar to this one, and it is so important that college students get these tips. We are going to graduate with thousands of dollars in debt, and the only way to lessen that burden is to spend less in college and save so we can pay off that debt. I agree with all of your points! Making my own coffee has saved me so much, I love to go to coffee shops, but daily coffee runs can truly add up. If you’re interest here is my post about saving money as a young adult/ college student http://www.themindfulrise.com/2016/08/30/how-to-keep-money-in-your-pocket-as-a-young-adult/

    • I totally agree! We need to start thinking about our future and the life beyond college (even if it seems far).

  • Serena Reidy

    These are such great tips, having a budget is so important at college and university.
    Serena / http://www.ramblingsofanotherunistudent.blogspot.co.uk

    • I’m glad you enjoyed! 🙂

  • Abby

    Making a budget is HUGE, and it’s a habit that’ll pay off long after college is finished. I’d add buying used to the list. Textbooks are so much cheaper purchased used online than through the bookstore. When I was in college, you could pay to have carpet put in your room. Instead of doing that, my roommate and I bought the carpet from students who lived in the dorm the year before us. It was a fraction of the price and still in good condition.

    • I totally agree! And that’s such a great tip! Buying used is usually less expensive and you can find great stuff for next to nothing!

  • Maggie

    Thanks for the tips, Amelie! Sometimes things like the “is this a want or a need” really get me stuck (I mean, like, I definitely need that new pair of leggings) so having to only buy what I need is super hard but like you said, also super important.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed! And yes, that’s hard, but it’s totally doable with a little bit of self control! 😉 Try to think of your bigger project (if you have one) and what you could do with that money if you didn’t buy that new pair of leggings. I find that setting a goal helps me stay on track!

  • I always make a list when I go shopping! Otherwise I come out with 10 things I didn’t actually need. I actually buy more things when I use cash! It’s backwards I know, but I just want to burn it all out of my wallet! Oh, and I spend way too much money on books as well! BUT I just found this awesome website that is a book outlet so all the books are super cheap and there are a lot of new titles even! It’s called bookoutlet.com. You should check it out!

    Caitlyn | http://www.collegewithcaitlyn.com

    • Making a list is a great strategy! And I spend a lot of money on books as well! I try to buy ebooks instead because they tend to be cheaper, or I go to my local library. I didn’t know about that website though, so I’ll definitely make sure to check it out! If you’re looking for cheap paperbacks with no shipping fee, The Book Depositery is a great website too!