Money Saving Tips: Saving Money in College


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College is a great time in everyone’s life, regardless of how low their GPA is or how much student loans will own them after they graduate. There are a lot of expenses associated with college; everything from textbooks and housing to computers. Fortunately, I’ve got a few money saving tips to share that should help keep some of that change in your pockets.


Housing-related costs account for several thousand dollars per semester. On-campus housing is also generally tied to an expensive meal plan of sorts as well. Unfortunately, most students don’t have the resources, such as a kitchen and a large fridge, to opt out of a meal plan while living on-campus.

My first money saving tip is to move off campus as soon as you can. This advice varies heavily depending on what college you attend and how close off-campus housing can be found.

If you don’t have a car with you at college, living off-campus won’t be worth it if it’s not just a few blocks away. In my current living situation my roommates and I ended up saving a several hundred dollars per semester by living off-campus.

We are only a five-minute walk from campus and have a garage connected to our new house. But off-campus living doesn’t go without its own problems. When considering off-campus housing, you must take into account your accustomed style of living. If you like having the thermostat set to 68 degrees in the summer, for example, be prepared to have a huge air conditioning bill hit you by June.

Call up your utility companies and ask for their rates: gas, electricity, water (although our rent included a fixed rate for water), telephone, cable and internet service. Some utilities you won’t even need: I’d recommend, for example, nixing land-line telephone service altogether and just sticking with your cell phone.

Many utilities offer an introductory discounted rate, as well, so watch out — be sure to find out the normal rate after that period. Right now, I’m only paying $20 per month for internet service as part of a six-month new customer special.

Other money saving tips are simple but easily neglected. You probably already know this, but a great example is to conserve water, gas and electricity whenever it’s possible. I switched out all the incandescent lights in my townhouse with Nvision fluorescent bulbs that are much brighter than their incandescent counterparts, and they’re available for as low as $8 per pack of two.

Take a look at this calculator to see how much you’ll save by switching to fluorescent bulbs.

Unlike on-campus housing, you’ll often have a much larger room in an off-campus apartment or townhome. However, more often than not it’s also completely unfurnished, with the likely exception of a fridge and oven. Luckily for me, there’s a Salvation Army adjacent to campus, and they have auctions on couches every Thursday.

I was able to snag two couches for $5 a piece (that price didn’t include two bottles of antibacterial Febreeze for sanitation). If you can’t find a Salvation Army in your area, Craigslist is just as good. For quality furniture, your best bet would be an Ikea if there’s one nearby — it’s often a college student’s first and only stop for new furniture. You have to assemble it all yourself, but we’re here to save money, aren’t we?

Basic Finance Upkeep

Knowing exactly how much you spend and what you’re being charged is vital when you’re living in college. A perfect example: Last year when I wasn’t aware of the exact amount in my bank account, I got stuck with $34 in overage charges through five separate fees. You can avoid those pitfalls by setting up a debit or credit card with the ability of managing it online. I’d also recommend going to the bank and telling them to set up your card so that it ‘s not possible to overdraw (your card would get denied instead).

My strategy revolves around a debit card I manage with my own money and my own expenses, and then a credit card tied to my parents if I run out of money or need it for emergencies like a flat tire. Managing both accounts online can help stave off that sinking feeling the next time you get your bill in the mail.

Hopefully these basic money saving tips were enough to get you thinking about how to save a bit of money here and there while enjoying the college life. I didn’t include the absolute basics — such as buying used books or becoming an Amazon Prime member and buying all of your textbooks online each semester — but be sure to check out 118 Ways to Save Money in College for the nitty-gritty of skating through the next four years financially worry-free.


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