By Emily Thomas
Whether you’re in college or long gone, there are lots of great money saving tips we can all learn from poor college students. Living like a poor college student might not be as bad as you think, however. In this article, we’ll take a look at 100 ways you can learn how to get by a little better by taking a lesson from college students.
Food & Shopping
Stretch a buck when you’re eating or buying with these college kid tips.
- Buy used books: College students often buy used textbooks, at great savings off of list prices.
- Shop discount stores: Use discount stores like Wal-Mart and Costco to get items on a budget-just be careful not to load up your cart unnecessarily.
- Get on a meal plan: If your office has a cafeteria with a meal plan, consider signing up for savings.
- Dumpster dive: Check out curbs and dumpsters to score free furniture and other items.
- Shop the dollar store: Stock up on cheap staples by paying a visit to your local dollar store.
- Don’t do delivery: Never pay for delivery unless it’s cheaper than getting it yourself-and even look for carryout specials, often found at pizza places.
- Avoid brand names: Most of the time, you won’t be able to tell the difference between name brands and store brands.
- Buy in bulk: Students know to buy large bottles of alcohol for savings-and you can do the same with other items as well.
- Learn to cook: Put your kitchen to good use and whip up something at home.
- All you can eat: Visit buffets to make your meals as big as you want them to be.
- Don’t buy books unless you have to: Wait until you’re sure you need a book, then see if you can find a free ebook, or a cheaper version before you commit to paying full price.
- Eat cheap: In a pinch, Ramen and Kraft can feed you cheaply-although produce often offers more nutrition for the money.
- Shop around: Find the best deals and bang for your buck.
- Buy used whenever possible: Books, baby strollers, or tools, are just a few examples of things you can buy used.
- Find specials: College students seek out happy hours-you can look for coupons, special purchase days, and more.
- Freeze food: Make extra food and freeze it for easy meals later.
- Eat out less: By eating at home, you can save money and live healthier.
- Share books with friends: Exchange books among your group of friends, and you’ll all save money.
- Make your own coffee: Don’t stop by the coffeehouse every morning-invest in a good French press and quality beans for your home.
- Plan for leftovers: Get an almost free lunch every day by making a little extra every night.
- Buy in bulk: Buy your items in bulk, sharing and splitting the cost with friends.
- Shop online: If you can’t find products at a discount in retail stores, check out online retailers.
- Stay away from fast food: Invest in food that gives you more nutrients for your buck.
- Eat nonperishable food: Avoid wasting money on rotted food-buy groceries with a long shelf life.
- Buy and sell used clothing: Create a unique style with used clothing-and make some cash by selling your old stuff.
Entertainment & Travel
Use these lessons to keep yourself entertained and having fun without spending a lot of money.
- Look for discounts: Even though you may not get a student discount, you can cash in on early bird specials, and discounts for seniors and the military.
- Stay with friends: Avoid hotels, and travel where you can stay with friends.
- Stay busy: Keep yourself busy with work, family, and hobbies, and you’ll have less time to spend money.
- Cut out vices: Cut down or avoid vices like beer, cigarettes, and drugs.
- Take a road trip: Stay close to home and drive somewhere to save some money.
- Seek out free drinks: Frat parties are out, but you can get free wine at art openings.
- Take advantage of free and cheap activities: Go to free concerts in the park and other activities to save money.
- Go on cheap dates: Go outdoors, out to coffee, or free events for a date.
- Go to cheap shows: Arena concert prices can be obscene-but club shows often only cost a small cover charge, and you’ll save on drinks.
- Take group trips: Get together and save with friends by taking trips as a group.
- Plan for fun: Know that you’re going to want to get out and have some fun-so set aside a little cash to play with.
- Use free communication: Call family, friends and colleagues using free long distance on your cell phone, or using services like Skype.
- Go to happy hours: Find cheap drinks and appetizers by visiting at the right time.
- Entertain yourself at home: Students often stay at home to study instead of going out-you can read or educate yourself instead.
- Don’t bother with a landline: If you have a cell phone, avoid getting a landline to save on communication costs.
- See obscure films: Stay out of blockbuster movie theaters, and watch independent, foreign, and old films for a fraction of the cost.
- Avoid big spenders: Don’t hang out with people who like to spend significantly more than you do, or arrange to do inexpensive things with them.
- Use free 411: Call 1-800-GOOG-411 pr 1-800-Free411 to save money.
- Get together at peoples’ homes: Avoid meeting friends and family at bars or restaurants-entertain each other in your homes instead.
- Drink cheap: Although you may not want to start drinking trashcan punch again, picking up a budget bottle of wine can help you save some cash.
These tips can help you keep your money under control.
- Track your spending: Don’t let your budget get out of control-keep a close eye on what you’re spending.
- Get help: Although your days of scholarships are over, grants and government assistance are often available to those who need them.
- Take advantage of government programs: If you qualify, use food stamps, Medicare, and other money saving programs-your taxes pay for them.
- Pace yourself: Slow down your spending to make your money last.
- Only use credit cards for emergencies: If possible avoid using credit cards for anything but emergencies.
- Don’t sign up for useless credit card offers: Avoid signing up for obscene credit card offers in exchange for t-shirts and gifts.
- Build a good history: Use credit cards to build a good credit history so you can save money on financially sensible products in the future.
- Pay off your cards each month: Only use credit cards if you’re going to pay off your balance each month.
- Keep a low credit limit: Avoid the temptation to spend up your credit card by keeping it at a low credit limit.
- Stay away from fees: Do everything you can to avoid fees from your financial accounts.
- Don’t max out loans: Smart students avoid maxing out student loans-and you should do the same, avoiding maxing out loans or credit cards you may have.
- Avoid unnecessary debt: Students have student loans-you may have a mortgage, but stay away from debt beyond the basics.
- Stay on top of your accounts: Avoid insufficient funds fees by making sure you stop spending before your money runs out.
- Get good grades: Although you won’t get a good student discount, keeping your credit score up to a high grade will save you money.
- Take it easy on loans: Just because you qualify for a loan, you don’t have to take it-pay cash whenever possible.
- Pay bills on time: Stay away from late fees on credit cards, utilities, and more.
- Shop around for loans: Don’t blindly take the first offer you get-look at others to make sure you’re getting the best deal available.
- Plan ahead for ATMs: Avoid costly ATM fees by planning ahead and using your bank’s branch or ATM.
- Plan ahead: Often, students have loans that have to last them a whole semester, so they have to plan accordingly. You can plan ahead like this by forecasting your income for a certain period of time.
- Use a convenient bank: Set up accounts with a bank that’s close to you and easy to access, and you’ll avoid transportation hassles, and often ATM fees.
Follow these college student tips to learn how to make more money.
- Consider a part time job: Make a little extra money on the side with a part time job.
- Tutor: If you’re good at math, English, or science, offer to tutor students for money.
- Save time: Save time to have more free time to work a part time job and earn cash.
- Be a good employee: Stand out at work, and you’ll have better opportunities for the future.
- Sell your old stuff: Get rid of old and unnecessary items by selling them in classifieds or online.
- Donate plasma: Make money from getting your blood drawn.
- Do seasonal work: Take on a Christmas rush job, or lifeguard in the summertime.
- Work for free: Internships can open doors for students, as volunteering can do for adults.
- Actually go to work: College students know they have to go to class-you have to go to work to continue making money.
- Start your own business: Take advantage of your special skills and start a business of your own.
- Take off jobs: Accumulate a little money here and there by doing small jobs for people.
Housing & Transportation
With these tips, you can live and get around just a little bit cheaper.
- Use public transportation: Save money on car expenses by opting to take public transportation instead.
- Get a roommate: Cut down on your living expenses by sharing your housing with someone else.
- Live near a bus line: Living close to town can be expensive-so consider living close to public transportation.
- Stay in a hostel: When traveling, spend your money on experiences and thoughtful mementos, not an expensive hotel room.
- Drive a clunker: Put off buying a new car as long as you possibly can.
- Get insurance discounts: Although you won’t get a good student discount, avoiding accidents and keeping a good credit score can lower your car insurance.
- Carpool: Whether it’s across town or across the country, ride with friends and it will be cheaper.
- Live small: Dorms and college apartments are not known for their huge amounts of space-save money by living in a smaller apartment or home.
- Share: Instead of borrowing your college roommate’s clothes, you can borrow your neighbor’s power tools.
- Buy used furniture: Check out classified and garage sales to find furniture on the cheap.
- Accept offers: If someone you know has a spare refrigerator, couch, or toaster oven, and you need one, don’t be too proud to accept it.
- Live close: Many students save on transportation costs by living on campus or close to it, so they can walk or bike to where they need to go on a regular basis.
These are just a few more college saving tips.
- Determine your own spending: Don’t try to keep up with friends and family who seem to have more money than you.
- Have a financial plan: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail-map out your goals and needs, then stick to them as close as you can.
- Use free gyms: College campuses often have free gyms, while there are often free or low cost gyms and classes available at community parks.
- Stay active: Stay healthy and active, and your health costs will decrease.
- Get health insurance from somebody else: Whether it’s your spouse, employer, or parents, anything is cheaper that getting individual health insurance.
- Visit libraries: You may not have access to university libraries, but you can save lots of money by using your local library.
- Take advantage of free services: Use free services available in your community, like libraries, parks, and free classes.
- Join groups: Fraternities help save college students money on room, board, and food-pool your resources in a group to save money similarly.
- Take a multivitamin: Multivitamins can help make up for deficiencies in your college student diet.
- Quit when you’re ahead: Students know to drop classes that are more trouble than they are worth before they hit the deadline-learn to get out of bad situations similarly to save money and more.
- Do things right the first time: Students who fail classes pay dearly to retake them-save your money by planning carefully for DIY projects, travel, and more.
- DIY: Avoid hiring professionals whenever possible.