Money Saving Tips for College Students

August 9th, 2019

(the article below was written by Liberty's college intern, Celeste)

It’s almost that time of year when college students wrap up their summer at home and start preparing to go back to school. For some, that means picking up extra shifts at a summer job so they have enough money to go back to school with. Getting back to school with some savings from your summer job is nice, but the tricky part is saving and conserving it instead of spending it all during the first few weeks back on campus.

Saving money can be difficult, especially during college, when you are learning how to live on your own and how to spend your money correctly. One of the best ways to make sure you have enough money throughout the school year is to get a part-time job on or close to your college campus. However, sometimes the pressures of schoolwork, organizations, sports—and countless other opportunities you can get involved with to benefit your future—can make it hard to work at all. You don’t want to put too much on your plate, so here are some tips you can use to keep from running out of money.

Spending cuts: Where it comes to spending your money, there are many ways you can cut back your spending and keep some cash in your pocket. A lot of businesses, especially local ones in your college town, understand that you are in college and struggling to keep any extra money, so they will work out deals for students.

· Student discounts: There are a lot of restaurants and other businesses—local and chain—that offer small but helpful student discounts. Some offer 10% or more off your meal, a free drink, or other discounts. Apple offers up to $200 off of a MacBook for students, Chick-fil-A offers free drinks, and Subway offers a 10% discount.

· Textbooks: Textbooks can easily break the bank if you aren’t looking for good deals and ways to cut back spending on them. Being smart when buying textbooks is simple. Always buy used textbooks if it is an option. This could potentially save you hundreds of dollars. If you can’t buy used, Amazon and some other sites offer the option to rent some textbooks for less money. Either way, there is usually a way to get around paying so much for your textbooks.

· Stay in to eat: An easy way to cut your spending is to reduce the amount you go out to eat or get coffee — or stop altogether— by making your food and coffee at home. It’s not very noticeable at first, but if you buy a $5 coffee every day for a year, you’ve spent $1,825. Think about how much that translates into for meals! In the long run, making your coffee and food at home will save you a lot of money.

Bringing in money: When you are a full-time student juggling classes, organizations, and a handful of other things, it can be difficult to hold down a job. Even if do you get one you might not be able to work enough hours to make enough money to live off of. Here are a few ways to earn some money without having to commit too much of your time. This way, you can focus on what you need to do for school.

· Sell belongings that you no longer use: Go through your room and sell everything you no longer use or need. Whether it’s clothing, shoes, accessories, old toys, or anything else someone else wants to buy, it can add up and help you bring in a little bit of extra spending money. It probably isn’t enough income to live, but you can use this approach when you are running low and want to make sure you have enough to get by.

· House/pet/babysitting: Exchanging your time for cash in someone’s home is a great way to bring in a little bit of extra cash. It is usually pretty low-commitment and you can usually make your schedule based on your availability and need for money. If you post somewhere online that you are available to babysit, house-sit, or pet-sit, people will usually reach out to you. Over time, you can also build a relationship with the family and become their “go-to” sitter, which could translate into some consistent income. This is another good way to bring in as much money as you think you might need.

These are just a few helpful tips for earning money and cutting back on spending as a student. There are also apps you can use, such as Mint, to help track spending and create a budget to get you on the right track.

Here's a quick list of creative tips for saving/earning more:

·         Sell clothes and accessories - Poshmark, Plato’s Closet, etc.

·         House-sit, dog-sit, babysit, etc.

·         Take advantage of student discounts

·         Attend free events

·         Utilize your meal plan if you have one

·         Rent or buy used textbooks

·         Make your coffee or food at home instead of going out and buying it every day

·         Use money-saving or budgeting apps like Mint

·         Don’t go grocery shopping while you are hungry so that you don’t buy unnecessary groceries

·         Buy generic brands

·         Cancel unnecessary subscriptions and memberships

·         Build an emergency fund

·         Get a part-time job - put a certain percentage of your check into a savings account 

·         Save all your $5 bills

·         Save your loose change

·         Pick up an inexpensive hobby such as reading or gardening

·         Volunteer - it takes up time so you aren’t spending money and it’s free

·         Sign up for coupon alerts

·         Use an investment app like Acorns

When you go throughout your day, start being more mindful about how you are spending and saving and do as much as you can to bring in a little bit of extra money. Every dollar counts, especially at this time in your life. 

Which tip will you use to start saving money?