Saving Money Tips for College Students

College students could save more money than they expect. Financial struggle can be cumbersome but with good planning and making budgets you can save a lot of stress and dedicate your time to more important stuff.


Life as a student implies a mix of feelings – it can be exciting, unexpected, sometimes boring, sometimes stressful, you name it. And perhaps something that we have all experienced during college is financial struggle.

This is especially applicable to freshmen. But you don’t have to despair – you can actually organize your finances more effectively by creating a budget to stick to. With that in mind, here are some guidelines that most freshmen will find useful.

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Financial Planning

Having a budget is all about considering more than one alternative before doing something. Essentially, you will most likely feel surprised at how much money you can save by simply being stricter when it comes to spending money. Hence the first and foremost advice to anyone really is: make a financial planning.

If you make a budget, you know exactly how much you can spend on food, coffee, college books, rent, etc. For further knowledge, please check out our tutorial on how to make a financial budget.

Making a financial planning is not difficult at all. All you need is to make a separation between income and expenses. The next step is to allocate your income to different sets of expenses. Making a budget really is that easy.

Your expenses should now be narrowed down to at least your essential expenses, and secondly your variable expenses. It is also vital to allocate some income into savings. These savings are needed to allocate funds into unexpected expenses.

Write Down Your Expenses

The vital step of a financial planning is to stick to your budget plan. Another really important step is to actually write down all your expenses. Writing down your expenses helps you to evaluate what you spend your money on. Especially looking at the wider picture and a larger time-frame is what matters the most (like spending 3.5 dollar 5 days a week on coffee equals 950 dollar a year).

Keeping track of your fixed expenses such as rent is easy but what about the variable costs such as food, clothing, and impulsive purchases? You could use a good old notebook for this, but these days there are also bank-applications but especially budget-apps that can help you to make forecast and to keep track of your expenses. Keeping track of your expenses helps you to see where you could make further budget cuts.

Cutting down variable costs

As for the variable costs, as a college student you could make cuts into at least the following.

Buy Used Textbooks

In high-school, you used to buy new textbooks, but this should change in the first year of college. For one thing, new textbooks tend to be quite pricey, and there’s nothing wrong with purchasing used ones. There are many websites you can use to find old text-books or sell your own.

Don’t Eat Out That Often

Did you know that eating out can mean havoc to your finances? In case you’ve taken out a student’s loan, spending money on eating out is simply not worth it. On the other hand, you could create a budget designated specifically for cooking your own meals. Not only that this is good for your finances, but it is also healthy. Believe it or not, there are numerous easy-to-cook meals you can consider.

Plus, cooking your own meals is part of the whole process of becoming independent. If you have trouble finding time to cook, you could also go into meal prep.

Take Advantage of Campus Amenities

Freshmen definitely enjoy spending their free time doing unique, memorable things. But when you have a strict budget to abide by, this may be more difficult to achieve. Not so fast, though – you can always benefit from campus amenities, such as free movie nights, free fitness classes, and the list may go on. At the same time, even if some activities may not be entirely free, you can still get some meaningful discounts and save some money.

Make Your Own Coffee

As cool as it may be to walk around on campus with a to-go cup of coffee, this is most likely an unnecessary expense. Of course, freshmen do need their caffeine intake in order to get things done until the stressing deadlines, but you can always invest in a coffee maker. It might seem a significant expense, but it’s better to get your own coffee maker than pay for coffee on a daily basis. These are actually the types of expenses that affect your budget without you realizing it. It’s actually the smaller expenses that add up, so keep this in mind.

The Bottom Line

These are some of the many things you can do in order to stick to a budget in college. Freshmen might find this a bit difficult at first, but practice makes it perfect. Make sure you understand that each expense matters, over the course of time, and that the time you spend in college will shape you as an individual.

Robin is one of the founders of FiFi Finance. He is our financial expert on loans as well as general political and economic issues. He is a former financial journalist and has been a web-editor for more than 20 years. Read more about the whole editorial team at FiFi.