7 Ways for College Students to Save Money

By Elaina Johannessen, Counseling Supervisor at LSS Financial Counseling.

College students have to spend more and more for tuition every year. I’ll admit it’s been several years since I was in college, but it was still quite expensive. I lived off-campus with a couple roommates, so room and board weren't included in my tuition. But that meant I couldn’t delay payment on my housing costs. I may not have had the healthiest diet in the whole world (eating a lot of pasta and cereal), but I found a few ways to save some money… and have compiled many other ideas over the years from friends, clients, and the good ol’ internet.


Carpool, bike, walk, or use public transportation. Whether you live on or off campus, as a college student there is always somewhere you need to go. If you do have a car, this is HUGE considering gas prices lately. Taking the bus/walking/biking or using your networking skills to ride with a friend is a great way to cut back on transportation costs.


This one is obvious and not the easiest for everyone to do. But, I will tell you that every little bit helps – whether it’s babysitting, dog sitting, work study, another part-time job or whatever. I realize this isn’t technically a way to save on spending, but it will help you big time in the long run. It could mean that you might not have to take out as much in student loans or, ideally, you might even be able to build up emergency savings so that if your car breaks down or another emergency happens, you don’t have to accrue debt. So really, it will save you money to work.


Use coupons at the grocery store. Even if you don’t get the paper, there are plenty of online coupons like Groupon you can easily get access to. Want a fun AND cheap night with friends without breaking the bank? Have a theme night – like pizza night. Each person brings an ingredient and you can make the food together and then have game or movie night.  Live on campus with no access to ovens? Then use coupons and split the cost of ordering something in.


Compare prices online before purchasing textbooks from your campus bookstore. I wish someone would have told me about this when I was in school (if it existed), because I would have saved a lot of money. For website ideas just search for cheap textbooks or cheap textbook rentals. Also, Lifehacker has a blog about the top 5 best places to buy cheap textbooks online. Also, if it isn’t a textbook that you want to keep forever, sell it back to the bookstore or go on half.com. Tip: When I used to sell my books back to the book store the price they paid went down as they got more copies of a certain textbook. So, get up early and go right away!


When I was in college, half of my classmates wore pajamas to class. But, they did want to look good for a date or night out. Going to thrift stores or places like Plato’s Closet, where there are a lot of gently used name brand clothes for reduced prices, is a great way to look good on the cheap.  An even cheaper alternative is swapping clothes with your friends to spruce up your wardrobe.


You probably know that your local library has DVDs available to borrow for free.  So instead of buying or renting from Netflix or a video store (…if that even still exists in your town), rent movies from the library for free. Or, do you have a theater in town that plays slightly older movies for less? Take advantage of your local restaurants, too. Do they have Taco Tuesday or buck burger night? If you were going to go out anyway, this is a great way to save money. Also, some places even have discounts if you show your college ID.


Websites like Seize the Deal also give you discounts on a variety of services/items, such as car repairs, haircuts, restaurants, golf/other entertainment, and much more.

The moral of the story here is: be creative. There are lots and lots of ways to save money; these tips above are just merely a drop in the barrel. But, if you put them (and your own ideas) in action, you’ll probably find yourself enjoying your college experience a bit more because you’ll be worrying less about money.

About LSS Financial Counseling

At LSS Financial Counseling, we empower people to take control of their debt with tangible steps and personal guidance that are the key to confidence and success. We’re here to help you with your finances, not take over and ultimately show you that you’ve got what it takes to Conquer Your Debt.

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