Creative Ways to Save Money for College Students

Whether you are a rising freshman or college senior, the era of living at home and financially depending on your parents has come to an end. Even if you are attending one of many affordable universities, college expenses add up, and for most students, this is the first time you will be budgeting and managing your money on your own. It can be difficult finding new ways to make money in college, therefore, sometimes we need to rely on creative ways to save money.

Juggling between classes, studying, extracurriculars, and socializing can be tricky, so we’ve created a round-up of money-saving strategies that won’t eat up too much time in your already busy schedule. Meeting your money goals in college will help you make the most of your college experience, but it will also help you kick off your financial future on the right foot. Ready to save some major dough? Let’s get started!

6 Creative Ways to Save Money for College

1. Secure a Scholarship

One of the most appealing ways to save money in college is by landing a college scholarship. While filling out applications, requesting letters of recommendation, and writing personal statements might seem time-consuming and stressful, this is free money that you never have to pay back! Therefore, it is well worth the extra time spent in the library. The best part: even if you are already in college, you are still eligible to apply for certain scholarships.

From scholarships for high school seniors to graduate school scholarships, there are thousands of scholarships available online. With so many scholarships available on a rotating basis, apply to as many as you can to increase your chances of landing one. If you work hard enough, you could even land more than one scholarship.

2. Limit Dining Out

A foolproof way to save money in college is to take full advantage of your meal plan. While splurging on an açaí bowl at the diner in town may seem more appealing than a stale bagel from the dining hall, it’s a lot less affordable.

Make the most of your meal plan, by grabbing coffee to go in the mornings, instead of purchasing a pricey latte from the coffee cart. Pack up snacks that you can eat throughout the day, like fruit or baked goods. Also, check to see if your meal plan can be used in any other ways, like at college convenience stores or restaurants around town, so those benefits don’t go unused. If your dining hall food is truly inedible – don’t panic! Instead of opting for the meal plan, you can limit your dining-out dollars by making home-cooked meals instead.

3. Buy or Rent Used Textbooks

Every college student is familiar with the overwhelming dread that comes with spending hundreds of dollars on textbooks each semester. The worst part is you’ll probably only need these textbooks for a semester at most before you have no use for them.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid spending ridiculous amounts of money on books and finding the cheapest textbooks. First and foremost, try to rent your textbooks on one of many online sites. If you are struggling to find a textbook to rent, try purchasing a used book from someone on campus or online. Unless a class is requiring a workbook, there’s no reason to buy a new book that costs exorbitant amounts of money, when you can buy a used one for cheaper.

4. Get a Part-Time Job

If you have any wiggle room in your schedule, getting a part-time job is a great way to make a little money on the side. You will be grateful to have extra change that can go towards weekend trips or dinners out. A part-time job doesn’t need to be a huge time commitment – check and see if there are any on-campus opportunities. On-campus managers are typically willing to work around your class schedule and offer more flexible hours.

Consult the science labs at your university and see if they are looking for short-term volunteers, look into local call centers, dog walking gigs, and open barista positions. If you want a job that’s particularly close to home, consider online opportunities such as becoming an online math tutor.

5. Sell Old or Used Items

Is your closet at home full of old items that you never use anymore? If so, now might be the perfect excuse to get rid of your childhood belongings. Even though it can be tempting to hold onto items with sentimental value, the heartache will disappear when you are traveling to Mexico with your buddies for spring break.

There are numerous e-commerce platforms online to sell old goods, from Etsy and eBay to Poshmark and Depop. If you want to go the extra mile, consider hosting a “yard sale” in your college dorm. What might look like old junk to you, might be a real treasure to your next-door neighbor.

6. Split Subscriptions

Nowadays, it feels like every movie or TV show is on a streaming service, from classic family favorites to new releases. Ask a roommate or family member if they would be interested in splitting the monthly cost of a streaming service with you. That way, everyone gets to enjoy the shows they want but for at least half the cost. If you want to go all out, put up a sign on your hall and ask other students if they want in – in this case, the more the merrier!

Check and see if there are any student discounts offered on services you pay a monthly subscription for. Some services, like Spotify, offer student-specific rates which makes it even cheaper to afford the content you want.