This is a guest post from Brittany, a college student and lead writer at
Saving money for college is a job in itself. College students should
earn credit for doing it, because the task requires using the mind and
it’s helpful for life after college. So to help out the universal crowd
of college students who have been trying to save money since the roots
of higher education, here is a list of fifty-one ways to save money for
That’s fifty-one ways to save yourself from going deeper into debt, and
fifty-one ways you can pat yourself on the back in the future. And for
some encouragement, listen to the wise words of Ralph Waldo Emerson who
said, “With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live
1. Bike it. Not only does using your bike help out your wallet, it’s
a good work out for the gluteus maximus.
2. Bus it. Public transportation is one of man’s greatest inventions
because it is cheaper than car insurance and history’s highest gas
prices (which you won’t have to pay if you ride the
bus/metro/insert other mode of public transportation here). All it
takes is a small fare or your campus’s bus passes (some
universities charge, others give them out for free for a limited
number of hours).
3. If you own a car, turn off your air conditioning while driving to
4. Choose the shortest route from point A to point B.
5. Carpool; work on your social skills.
6. If you drive a manual, coast on the down hills.
1. Dumpster dive. Some places make dumpster diving easy by, for
example, putting all of their stale (but edible) items in a
specially marked dumpster. Check your state’s law for further
info. Here is Urban Dictionary’s definition of dumpster diving:
“Actively searching through trash in commercial or residential
dumpsters to find discarded but usable items; Proves fruitful at
grocery stores and bakeries, where good food is often neatly
thrown away when it merely approaches the sell-by date.”
2. Don’t just leave those cans and bottles from last weekend’s party
on the curb to be taken away by the garbage man. Recycle them
yourself and get cash from a grocery store that provides this
service. This method of recycling, known as the Bottle Bill, is
only in certain state’s legislation so hopefully you live in one
of those 11 states.
3. Keep your receipts from grocery stores, which often hold coupons
and special offers on the other side. Look up extreme couponing
<http://tlc.discovery.com/videos/extreme-couponing-videos/> to get
10. Step away from the latte and say hello to good ole coffee and
Americanos. If you are one of those college students who hangs out at a
coffee shop so often most people aren’t sure if you are a customer or an
employee, it would be wise to choose cheaper options if you are buying a
drink every time you visit. All that milk one finds in a latte can’t be
good for one person, even if you aren’t lactose intolerant.
11. Want to have a pizza night? Taco night with friends? Have each
person bring one ingredient to contribute to the meal and it will be
astronomically cheaper for the host, and that much tastier too.
12. Use the most of your punch cards at local coffee shops. Three
dollars off of a drink of choice or even a free drink is that much money
that you can keep in your wallet if you are consistently punching that
beloved 2 by 3.5 inch piece of paper.
13. Home brew your own ______ (fill in the blank). Check out The Mad
Fermentationist <http://www.themadfermentationist.com/> blog to get
recipes and ideas. Who knows if home brewing is cheaper, short term, but
in the long run perhaps people will be paying YOU for what you make.
Think about it.
14. Brew your own coffee at home. This is cheaper, because you can buy
grains in bulk, and when you put it in a travel mug you are good to go
15. At the beginning of every week buy enough food to last you one week
in one meal. i.e. chicken and rice for dinner the next seven days. It
lacks the variety one enjoys, but we’re in college so we’re aiming for
cheap and edible.
16. Buy in bulk. Use those coupons and stock up. Use your freezer.
17. Make use of your on-campus credit that goes towards food and
beverages in the cafeteria and various stores and coffee bars. Use it
all up before spending it elsewhere, especially if you can buy the same
items there as anywhere else.
18. Go to school or community events with free food, whenever the
opportunity presents itself.
19. When you are grocery shopping, don’t go to the store while you are
20. Thrift stores, garage sales and second-hand shops are a college
student’s best friend when old clothes wear out. It is a widely held
belief that thrift stores are thee places to shop whether you are cheap
or not, because there is such a wide range of clothing that fits
anyone’s taste and it’s rare that you’ll see someone else wearing the
same clothing item you’ve bought from a second-hand shop.
21. Get in touch with your crafty side. When you find clothes at a
second-hand shop that are too large, alter them yourself. That x-large
band t-shirt that you cannot pass up will be a size medium in no time.
22. Trade clothes with friends when your wardrobe starts looking dull.
This is all perspective, and what you need is to swap a few articles of
clothing and voila! That should do the trick to curing your monotonous
23. One word: Self-control. Restrain from being an impulse buyer!
24. Rent textbooks. This can be done through a website like Chegg
<http://savvystudent.com/coupons/chegg> or places nearby such as your
university’s bookstore, library or your county’s local library.
25. Join Amazon Student <http://www.amazon.com/gp/student/signup/info>
and for one year get unlimited free two-day shipping on textbooks and
other items. It’s free to sign up for students!
26. Join the online community of Couch Surfing
<http://www.couchsurfing.org/> and get connected with people from all
over the world. Forming these connections will enable you to vacation
for cheap with a free place to stay while receiving free tours from the
locals who know the best places to go.
27. Find local festivals and events that have free admission and hang
out. Walk around, people watch, B.Y.O food. Free entertainment is good
28. Get in the know-how while reading newspaper online instead of
receiving it on your doorstep. I am all for supporting publishers and
the print, but if you’re trying to save, and the same information is
available for free, then why spend the monthly fee?
29. Make reusable, fused paper bags
to avoid paying the meager 99¢ at the grocery store. Because we’re
thinking cheap and that’s 99 whole cents that could be put towards your
college savings fund.
30. Instead of going out to eat, or buying something new to spice up
your living space, or spending money on anything really, report to
instructables.com <http://www.instructables.com/>. It is a website for
all of your do-it-yourself needs, with categories of food, living,
outside, play, technology and workshop. That pretty much covers
everything you could ever need to spend money on (besides your tuition).
31. One more word: Groupon <http://www.groupon.com/>.
32. Use Living Social <http://livingsocial.com/> to receive coupons on
entertainment, yoga classes, spa treatments, restaurants and more in
33. Explore your state’s parks. Free admission and entertainment for all!
34. Rent DVDs at your local library instead of renting from Red Box or
35. Refrain from going to new movies while they are still in theaters.
Wait until they come out on DVD. (Hopefully this doesn’t completely
contradict the former.)
36. Play cards. It’s another way to be entertained for free.
37. Learn how to budget in unique ways. One method is separating money
from your most recent paychecks and putting it into envelopes for
different expenses. Budget and know where your money is going. Dave
Ramsey loves the envelope system
38. Acquire friends with skills. These could be people who cut hair, fix
cars or bikes… Need I say more? You are in no way using them, but their
talents are simply a bonus to your mutually beneficial friendship.
Another way of saying this: networking.
39. Work somewhere that either gives you great discounts on their food
or other items. In this beautiful scenario you are simultaneously making
and saving money.
40. Sell your hobby. Play music at a local café; sell your art in an
open-air market. Use your talents and put a hat before you. Even a
little change makes a difference, right?
41. If you live in or nearby a neighborhood, say hello to quirky jobs
and employment. Go up to front doors and ask if people need their lawns
mowed, gutters cleaned out, flower bushes trimmed, etc. Because who
wants to clean out their own gutters?
42. If it’s not on craigslist, you don’t need it. Never buy new. Let’s
say it together: “Never buy new.”
43. If you are borrowing loans from the government, steer towards
subsidized loans, if you qualify for them, instead of unsubsidized
loans. Subsidized loans don’t build interest until after a student
graduates, as opposed to unsubsidized loans, which start building
interest once the loan has been dispersed to the school.
44. Put extra money from your paychecks into a savings account instead
of your checking account. When you have the urge to buy something, it
will be harder to access your savings account than the three seconds it
takes to hand the cashier your debit card.
45. In the evenings, use candles. Turn off the lights and cozy up to a
candle for all of your mood lighting needs, and save electricity while
46. Wash your clothes sparingly. Don’t let not washing them turn people
off to you, but before you throw a pair of pants in the wash after one
day’s wear, think twice.
47. As opposed to washing your clothes on campus with quarters or at a
Laundromat, wash them at a friend’s house and pay them a couple dollars.
48. Hang dry your clothes instead of using the dryer. Save electricity
or your quarters!
49. Don’t wash your hair everyday. Save shampoo & conditioner and let
your hair embrace its natural oils. This saves water and money spent on
50. Live with people. Rent and utilities become cheaper, you can share
meals, and cooking is more fun when you do it with other people.
51. Use an electric kettle, which will save you time and money by
turning off automatically when water reaches its boiling point. If you
are a big tea drinker, the hot pot will become your best friend.
52. When you are grocery shopping, don’t go to the store while you are
hungry. There will be less of an urge to buy everything that looks
And that concludes this list of ways to save money for college. From
saving money on how to nourish yourself cheaply to some of the best
coupons the web has to offer, I hope you will find some guidance in
these suggestions. Good luck finding other ways to be cheap and thrifty
without going into debt during your college years.