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7 Tips to Saving Money in College

As a college student, it's understandable to be on a tight budget. Use these tips to help you save some money while you’re in school.

  1. Check Out Different Textbook Options

Books are one of the biggest expenses as a college student, and it’s pretty unavoidable. However, there are ways to save when it comes to getting your textbooks

  • Rent Your Textbooks

Renting your textbook is a really easy and effective way to save money. You can rent your books directly at your bookstore, from the publisher (they offer free shipping), or through Amazon.

  • Buy an eBook/online access only

A lot of new textbooks have eBooks or online versions for sale or rent. Going for online or digital versions of your textbook can save you some upfront money. Plus, many times your instructor will require homework or assignments through these versions too. If you don’t need a print book for future classes, why not go with just an eBook for cheaper?

  • Discount Codes

Is the publisher offering any discount codes at the start of the term? Some publishers, like McGraw-Hill, will send flash sale codes through email, text message, or on social media at the start of the term. Never hurts to ask!

  1. Try “Off Brand” Options

Just like buying books, there’s no need to break the bank when buying school supplies or food. Take advantage of “off brands” that still provide the same quality products for less money.

  • School Supplies

For instance, it’s not necessary to buy Five Star folders and notebooks because stores like Walmart and Office Depot have featured brands like Pen + Gear and Office Depot Brand that allow you to buy your supplies for a lot less. Plus, Composition notebooks are a great deal too. If you miss the fancy designs from more expensive notebooks, you can always personalize your new notebooks with permanent markers and stickers.

  • Food/Snacks

A lot of grocery stores have their own brand or generic version of your favorite foods and snacks. Try some of the generic versions of cereal, cookies, chips, and other snacks to save on cash. They’re often just as good!

  1. Shop at Thrift Stores and Goodwill

If you need some new clothes, shopping at stores that sell gently used or preowned clothes like Goodwill or other local thrift stores is a great way to save money. You can find really nice and expensive brands at great prices. The same goes for yard sales too. You never know what you will find; it’s kind of like a treasure hunt!

  1. Plan Ahead and Save Money on Meals

In general, food is a big expense. There’s are several different ways you can help minimize your food bill while at college.

  • Learn to Cook

If you have access to a kitchen this is a no brainer. Cooking instead of buying pre-made food or even relying on your school’s meal plan can save a lot of money. If you’re in a dorm, things are a little trickier but there are still a lot of simple meals you can make with a dorm fridge and microwave. Get creative, and while it might not be every meal, try and make most of your meals at home if possible.

  • Backpack Snacks

It’s a good idea to keep some snacks in your backpack, so you have them if you need them. It’s a great way to avoid unnecessary spending on food and snacks in high-priced vending machines or campus kiosks when hunger suddenly strikes.

  • Limit Going Out/Takeout

Try to limit the number of times you go out to eat. Restaurants, takeout, and delivery can be a real budget killer. A great way to help with this is to get an envelope and put some cash in it (based upon your monthly budget) that you can use to eat out for a month. Whenever the envelope is empty, you’re done for that month and must wait until the next month to go out to eat again. This method of budgeting really works and can be used for other categories of spending as well as entertainment or clothes.

  1. Take Advantage of Campus Events

Most colleges and universities are great at providing free events for students to attend that can range from craft nights to movie nights to cultural celebrations to interesting talks. A lot of these events provide free food and are a great place to meet new people and try new things. Take advantage of this free entertainment!

  1. Use Your Campus’s Facilities and Services

There are numerous facilities that colleges and universities have for students to use.

  • Common School Amenities

Most schools have a library, a computer lab, and a recreation center, so there’s no need to spend money elsewhere if you are already provided these things. They are there for students to use, so feel free to do so.

  • Tutoring Services

A majority of schools actually offer free tutoring services and resources to students.

  • Recreational Activities

Some schools might also allow students to rent out recreation equipment, like canoes, bikes, sports equipment, etc.

The specific facilities and services provided to students vary between colleges, so ask around and see what your school has for you.

  1. Ask About Student Discounts

Many stores in your community provide discounts to college students. Don’t be afraid to ask, and make sure to bring your ID.