Money-Saving Tips for College Students

Several Ways to Conserve Cash While Attending College

Money-Saving Tips for College Students
August 7, 2020

College can be a great adventure in scholarship and life for many young people. But when it comes to managing a budget, it can be a sobering learning experience in how quickly their money can disappear.

Even worse, six months after a student graduates, when he or she gets their loan payment schedule, they will receive a major reality check on how they were able to accumulate such a large debt with interest in just a few short years. According to Forbes, there are currently 44.7 million Americans who each owe an average of $32,731 in educational debt. reports that 81% of full-time students are experiencing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 1 in 4 have lost their job due to the coronavirus outbreak and more than a quarter are struggling to feed themselves or pay their bills. Chances are, the new graduates are going to struggle to find a job immediately, and entry-level jobs are not going to allow them to pay off their loans in one year.

It's easier to save money for college when your low credit score doesn't make you pay high interest rates. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free by joining MoneyTips.

The best way students can save money is to live at home. If that is not an option, follow these simple strategies:

  • Books -- it certainly is hard to believe college students have to pay $300 for a textbook just when the Internet seems to be making everything less expensive or even free. Do not buy a new book in the student bookstore. Buy it used at a used bookstore, or online such as Better yet, rent it from online bookstores such as or But act fast, as soon as you have the class schedule, because quantities will be limited. Be sure to return rented books on time as well, in the same condition, or that will become one expensive rental.
  • Eating out -- simply put, don't do it. Eating at restaurants or fast food establishments will gobble up your cash as though you were feeding the entire offensive line of your school's football team. If you live in a dorm and have a cafeteria meal plan, get a (used) mini-refrigerator for late-night snacks. If they allow microwave ovens, get one (perhaps as a gift from a well-meaning relative). Buy snacks for when you are in a rush to class and cannot eat in the cafeteria.

    Living off campus allows you to save dramatically by cooking your own meals. Buy staples in bulk. Shop at Wal-Mart or Costco if you can; the savings are significant. Share meals with roommates. Make large meals at one time, so you can munch on leftovers.

    If you must eat out, and you will, be sure to get on the email list of your favorite restaurants. You will receive coupons for discounts on meals. Look for local coupon books. Their racks are frequently located at high traffic areas and many offer two-for-one deals you can split with your roommates. Of course, always check to see which food places offer discounts for students.

    If you are old enough to drink, find out who has the best happy hour near you. That would be the bar that not only offers the best prices, but also puts out enough snacks to turn into a meal. Why not nurse a beer while chowing on chicken fingers? If you have to study later, you can still drink a soda while enjoying the free appetizers.

By following these tips, you should be able to save money and reduce any loans you might need. Saving a hundred dollars as a student can save you more than a thousand on interest!

Check out more money-saving tips for college students.

If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, join MoneyTips and use our free Debt Optimizer tool.

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Sarah | 08.28.15 @ 13:57
These are a couple of good tips, especially the book one. I remember the sticker shock I got when I purchased books for college. My dad said for me to get all new ones. Wow... just wow. My psych books were insane!
Crystal | 08.28.15 @ 14:03
I find it helpful to always make lists and only buy what is on your list. That will avoid unnecessary purchases
Crystal | 08.28.15 @ 14:04
Stick to a budget! That is the best way to track and save money.
Britt | 08.28.15 @ 14:08
As a college student who is on a very strict budget, I found this article to be very helpful. :)
Nancy | 08.28.15 @ 14:09
Research grants and scholarships. Every little bit helps. Renting books makes a difference, but even renting is expensive.
Daniel | 08.28.15 @ 14:13
Budget Budget Budget. If you can learn to make keep and follow one you will be able to dedicate the time to school which is the important part
Sara | 08.28.15 @ 14:17
It is crazy how much those books cost. I bought new but only on scholarship. Whatever that did not pay i got used or rented.
Steffanie | 08.28.15 @ 14:24
Another tip would be to share the cost when eating out. We know all college kids love pizza!
Victor | 08.28.15 @ 14:32
This is great advice whether you are in college or not, it always good to know that eating out its not good for your pocket
Chrisitna | 08.28.15 @ 14:40
Keep looking for scholarships and grants - even the smaller ones help, especially with the rising costs of tuition and textbooks!
Zanna | 08.28.15 @ 14:42
Sending a link to this article to my college kid. Would also recommend Thrift shops - especially for those moving off-campus. Thrift finds can help furnish a house for less!
Jackie | 08.28.15 @ 14:42
If possible, buy used books. Create a budget and stick to it. Shop wisely and only buy things you really need.
Erin | 08.28.15 @ 14:50
Books are a huge money pit. New ones are nice, but any that are in the sciences/maths are especially outrageous. Definitely get used where you can and evaluate every purchase as to whether you need it or just want it.
Carla | 08.28.15 @ 14:51
I like the idea of renting books. That was not an option when I went to college. I wish getting an education wasn't so expensive.
irene | 08.28.15 @ 14:54
Great tips,!
Rindy | 08.28.15 @ 15:02
Great tips here for these young people that are all of a sudden out in the real world. I agree with the majority, you have to have a budget and stick to it. Look for free things to do for entertainment.
Kamie | 08.28.15 @ 15:18
One of the best money saving tips I think any college kid needs is... Never go to a fast food restaurant, gas station, sit in restaurant until you graduate unless you are not paying. Buy a hot plate, save you hundreds a month.
Ron | 08.28.15 @ 15:24
Eat free where you can, be it on campus, churches, etc. Any time spent eating should also have studying involved. Here is the big one. Don't spend money on alcohol. Ever. Plenty of free socials on campus.
Elaine | 08.28.15 @ 15:51
I think a great tip is to ask former students to sell their books. I have seen FB pages setup where students list the books they have for sell. That seems to have worked well.
Bobbie | 08.28.15 @ 16:08
We looked at the cost of buying books vs renting across lots of web sites, and several times we rented. A few books we bought used, and then were able to sell on e-bay and re-coup a majority of the money. The last resort was always new books, and we always re-sold on E-bay or sold back to the school to help re-coup some money.
Chelsey | 08.28.15 @ 16:17
Having a budget and sticking to it is one of the biggest helpers. Use coupons when you can and when you do shop, make a list before hand. I always end up spending more than I intended to when I go in without a list.
Beverly | 08.28.15 @ 16:25
Where were these tips when I went to college 30 years ago!! They are good tips, but the key is to teach them the responsibility before they leave home.
Heather | 08.28.15 @ 17:17
I wish they would have had site like Chegg when I was in school. Even used books were almost as expensive as new. These are some great tips!
Rychana | 08.28.15 @ 17:28
I have rented text books from It is so simple and cheap. I have also bought the electronic versions which are cheaper.
Donnie | 08.28.15 @ 18:08
Stick to a budget. Cook meals, get a bike or walk
Apryl | 08.28.15 @ 18:48
Check with your local power company to see if they have budget billing. It helps tremendously!
gracie | 08.28.15 @ 18:48
Great tips! I think sitting down and creating a budget has got to be a huge priority when starting college. For many it is the first time they have total control and responsibility for large amounts of personal finance.
trish | 08.28.15 @ 19:04
I totally agree with not eating out and buying used books. Only issue seems to be when a semester starts, sometimes they switch to a new there is no choice buy to buy new. =(
Angie | 08.28.15 @ 19:17
My kids stayed involved in the activities that were happening on campus - the folks hosting them knew that the best way to get students to attend was to feed them! Several meals a week can be had that way for free! Also, choosing inexpensive housing rather than the more "premium" housing that can be selected when going to school can save money - it's temporary and you can always live in more expensive surroundings once the debt is paid down.
Christina | 08.28.15 @ 19:37
Its sad a lot of the books they have to buy they don't open but a few times. All of the lessons are online,but they are still required to buy the books. Save every dime you can sometimes life gets harder as you get older..
$commenter.renderDisplayableName() | 12.04.20 @ 19:41