50 Money-Saving Tips for Students (Ramen Isn’t One of Them)

College is often considered some of the best years of a person’s life. However, financial freedom is not one of the perks that comes with the college experience. The fear of daunting credit card bills can dampen the fun. But worry not! In this article, we will discuss 50 tips for students looking to live up their college years without racking up overwhelming debt.

Score Some Extra Cash

Living on a tight budget doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun. Here are some ways to score some extra cash while in college:

  1. Online Scholarships: Take advantage of online scholarships offered by websites like Niche Scholarships and Bold.
  2. Psychology Studies: If your college has a grad school, their psychology department most likely need students to participate in various studies. Depending on the study, you might not qualify to participate but if you do, it can be a good amount of money for a small investment of your time.
  3. Become an RA: Explore becoming a resident assistant in your college dorm to subsidize your housing costs and earn some extra cash.
  4. Work-study: If you qualify, opt for a work-study position designed to fit alongside your college curriculum.
  5. On-campus jobs: Check with your student center for on-campus job opportunities. These jobs often offer more convenience and flexibility compared to off-campus jobs.
  6. Babysit: Find babysitting positions through websites like Care.com.
  7. Tutor: Utilize your skills by tutoring students in subjects you excel in, with the help of Craigslist or other tutoring websites.
  8. Local Contests: Look out for contests in your campus or local area where you can use your skills to earn some pocket change.

Work the Student Thing

As a student, you can take advantage of special perks and discounts. Here’s how to maximize your student status:

  1. Use Student ID: Present your valid student ID to enjoy discounts at retailers, movie theaters, and other establishments.
  2. Take Advantage of Student Discounts: Many companies offer student discounts on items beyond the daily essentials. Apple, HP, and Dell offer student rates on laptops. Airlines also provide student rates on plane tickets and travel packages.
  3. Free Campus Entertainment: Explore the free events organized by your campus, such as karaoke nights, to keep yourself entertained without spending any money.
  4. Save on School Supplies: Utilize social sites, like Facebook, to buy or trade used books and study materials. Websites like Chegg.com also offer hassle-free options for buying and selling textbooks.
  5. Student Banking: Research and choose the best student banking account deals, taking advantage of perks such as free checking accounts to save on monthly fees and charges.

Get Organized

Being organized can help you stay on top of your finances and save money. Here are some tips to help you stay organized:

  1. Test Out of Classes: If possible, test out of classes to save money on textbooks and potentially graduate early.
  2. Make Lists: Create shopping lists to avoid overspending on groceries and clothing.
  3. Develop a Weekly Routine: Establish a routine to streamline tasks and reduce unnecessary expenses, such as frequent trips to the laundromat.
  4. Keep Coupons: Collect and keep coupons and frequent visitor punch cards in sight, ensuring that you actually use them.

Do a Self-Audit

It’s essential to evaluate your expenses and cut out unnecessary costs. Here’s how to conduct a self-audit:

  1. Cut out Bad Habits: Get rid of costly habits like smoking and drinking while enjoying the added benefits of improved health.
  2. Evaluate Everyday Expenses: Review daily expenses, such as morning coffee, and consider cheaper alternatives to reduce long-term costs.
  3. Make a Budget: Track your monthly expenses and income using tools like Mint.com to stay within your financial limits.
  4. Categorize Your Spending: Analyze your spending habits and strategize ways to cut down on the areas where you spend the most, whether it’s restaurants, groceries, gas, or clothing.
  5. Re-Evaluate Your Meal Plan: Assess whether a fixed-meal plan provided by your campus is truly the most cost-effective option for your eating habits. Cooking on your own is often cheaper.
  6. Opt for Generic Products: Reduce expenses by switching from brand name to generic food, toiletries, and cleaning products.
  7. Be Selective with Entertainment: Avoid buying tickets for every event or season. Focus on the ones that are most important to you.
  8. Consider Alternative Transportation: If possible, save money on gas, insurance, and maintenance by using a bike instead of a car.
  9. Share Cars: Coordinate rides with friends and utilize peer-to-peer car services when you occasionally need a car.

When Parents Aren’t So Bad

Your parents can be valuable resources to help you save money. Here’s how to make the most of their support:

  1. Stay on the Family Plan: If possible, continue to remain on your family’s cell phone plan, as bundled packages are usually cheaper.
  2. Mooch: Take advantage of family or friends living nearby by using their laundry machines or enjoying a weekly dinner. Offer help around the house as a way to give back.
  3. Spend Weekends at Home: If you live close to campus, consider spending one weekend per month at home to save money on socializing and please your parents.
  4. Student credit cards: Get your parents to co-sign a student credit card that earns rewards where you spend the most: gas, groceries, textbooks or eating out

Shop Smart

Being a smart shopper can help you significantly reduce your expenses. Consider these money-saving tips:

  1. Buy on eBay: Utilize eBay to find a wide range of items at affordable prices, especially if you are open to buying used items.
  2. Buy on Craigslist: When shopping for larger items that have high shipping costs, check your local Craigslist listings for used goods.
  3. Sell Your Stuff: Make extra cash by selling your unwanted items on eBay and Craigslist.
  4. Shop at Consignment Stores: Trade your clothes for cash or store credit at local consignment shops, where you can find designer items at discounted prices.
  5. Practice Saying No: Learn to say no to costly outings and propose lower-cost social activities like hikes or potluck dinners.
  6. Avoid Vending Machines: Save cash by buying water bottles, soda, and snacks in bulk instead of relying on vending machines.
  7. Avoid Duplicates: Stick to what is necessary in terms of wardrobe essentials and avoid purchasing duplicates.
  8. Indulge in Window Shopping: Give yourself time to think before making impulsive purchases. Delaying for at least 48 hours often leads to forgetting about unnecessary items.
  9. Stay Alert: Be cautious of store credit cards and other offers tailored to entice students. Carefully read terms and conditions to avoid unexpected fees and high interest rates.

Have Fun Outside the Box

Having fun doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some cost-effective ways to enjoy your college years:

  1. Expand Your Horizons: Attend free festivals, visit museums and art galleries, and explore outdoor concerts and farmers markets. Websites like Funcheap.com list low-cost events in your area.
  2. Plan Cheap Dates: There are inexpensive date ideas for college students that don’t break the bank – explore them!
  3. Take a Break from Netflix: Borrow DVDs from your school’s library instead of relying solely on streaming services. If you’re open to a limited selection, consider downgrading to Amazon Prime for Students, which offers access to Amazon Prime Video at a reduced price.
  4. Use Honey: Utilize discount-finding platforms like Honey to find discounts on online items.
  5. Social Media Freebies: Keep an eye out for coupons and freebies on social media.

Sharing Is Caring

Collaborating and sharing resources with others can help reduce costs. Consider these sharing strategies:

  1. Share Clothes with Roommates: Save money by sharing clothes and organizing clothing swaps with friends.
  2. Carpool: Coordinate rides with friends to save on transportation expenses.
  3. Join a Grocery Co-op: Pool resources with your housemates or dorm-mates to buy food in bulk, reducing individual trips to more expensive stores.

Embrace It

Make the most of your college years by embracing your unique situation and making memories:

  1. Explore DIY Projects: Learn new skills by checking out tutorials and guides on platforms like Pinterest and YouTube. Make and fix things yourself instead of spending money on them.
  2. Be Confident and Be Yourself: Don’t worry about keeping up with peers who may have more financial support. Focus on making memories and enjoying the college experience within your means.


Living a fulfilling college life without drowning in debt is possible with careful planning and smart financial choices. By taking advantage of discounts, finding additional sources of income, and making conscious spending decisions, you can enjoy a memorable college experience without the burden of excessive debt. Remember to prioritize your financial well-being and make the most of the resources available to you.

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