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How To Save Money as a College Student

For many people, college is the first time they’re truly in charge of their own finances. While it can be challenging, creating and maintaining a savings account as a student is a foundational lesson for building healthy financial habits that last a lifetime. These savings tips can help give you some monetary breathing room and a financially secure start in adulthood.

Set Up a Budget

To determine how much a student should spend per month it’s recommended that you subtract your monthly expenses (essentials like food, utility bills, etc.) from your monthly income (whether it’s from a part-time job, student loans, or money from a parent). This will help reveal how much you can safely spend each month on fun things like new clothes or going to the movies, after putting a portion aside for your savings, of course.

Buy Used Textbooks

New textbooks can cost hundreds of dollars, so instead consider buying or renting used textbooks. Many college bookstores offer used options and online platforms can provide affordable alternatives. At the end of the semester, you might be able to recoup some of the money you spent by reselling your textbooks to a used bookstore, through an online vendor, or to a student who is taking the class next semester.

Male student looking for book in library

Rethink The Car

It can be tempting to bring a car to college, but the costs of gas, insurance, maintenance, and parking can add up quickly. Most college campuses are great for biking and walking, and many also provide shuttle buses and rides to essential off-campus places like grocery stores. If you really need a ride somewhere farther, there are many car ride service options like Uber or Lyft.

Become an RA

Housing is a major cost of attending college, being a resident advisor (RA) can help you save money on this expense. You’ll have to work some nights and handle other administrative tasks, but many students see this as a fair tradeoff to eliminate the cost of housing.

female student studying

Make Your Own Coffee

Brewing your own coffee will eliminate the need to spend $3 to $7 on coffee every day. Not only that, but it’ll eliminate any temptation to buy food with your coffee since you won’t be stopping at the coffee shop at all.

Try Meal Planning

It typically costs less to eat in than it does to dine out, so find ways to fix easy foods at home. Set aside a few hours each weekend to prepare all your meals for the upcoming week and snacks that you can easily take on the go. Having meals planned ahead of time will make it easier to avoid the temptation to dine out after a long day of classes.

group of students smiling in hallway

Shop Preowned

Shopping at consignment and thrift stores is not only more sustainable but it’s also often cheaper. Bonus, consignment stores are also a way for students to make extra money by selling unwanted items.

Take Advantage of Student Discounts

Many retailers, restaurants, theaters, and entertainment venues offer discounts specifically for students. Google "student discount" to start finding brands that offer one. Your college may have a list of local and national businesses that offer students special pricing. While shopping, it never hurts to ask if there are student discounts too. To reap the benefits, always keep your student ID on you so you can save money while you’re out.

College students playing foosball

Enjoy Free Activities

There are plenty of ways to have fun without spending money, especially on a college campus. There are usually multiple free activities and clubs happening on any given night. You can look up event calendars online and keep an eye out for announcements. Plus, a lot of these events have free food, saving money again!

Where should college students keep their savings?

As you’re finding new ways save, where should you put the money that you’ve set aside? Checking accounts are an ideal place to keep your spending money, funds for paying bills, and income since they allow you to access the cash you need at any time. While there are alternative options for long-term savings, rewards checking accounts are a valuable tool for college students as they begin to manage their own finances.

Credit Union of Denver offers a Rewards Checking Account that, depending on the option you choose, can earn interest or cashback each month, among other benefits!

College is an excellent time to begin building your savings. To make your savings dreams a reality, set goals at the start of each semester, and check your progress periodically. Try incorporating these saving tips into your finances to help build the foundation for a comfortable and secure financial future. Some of these suggestions may fit your situation, while others might not apply, so consider the cost-cutting measures that can help you, without missing out on the fun of college.


Sources & enhanced by Credit Union of Denver

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