18 Tips To Save Money In College You Wish You Knew Sooner

18 Tips To Save Money In College You Wish You Knew Sooner

How To Save And Make Money As a College Student – Mrs Breathe Easy Finance

College years were some of my fondest memories. I met people from all walks of life, made lifetime friends and just had a blast overall. 

Despite college being my glory days, it came with its’ set of challenges, most of them for me were financial. 

I had to navigate between two worlds. I was not completely financially independent from my parents yet, but not able to totally rely on them financially either. I had to be a semi-adult financially.

My mother took out a loan to send me to college and made her best attempt to help me periodically with basic necessities.  

Based on my experience and research, there are many tips available out there at your fingertips to save money and also hustle to make some money.  

Even if you are not in college, do your friends or kids a favor and send them this article. 

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Lets get the ultimate rule out of the way!


Do Not take out additional Loans/Credit

It can be tempting to take out an additional loans or a credit card to assist with your overall college finances but don’t! Tuition is costly and continues to skyrocket at a ridiculous rate.

Don’t take a cent more than the bare minimum you need to pay for your education. The average loan for the class of 2017, was 37,400 and it continues to increase, every year. 

There are efficient ways to budget and make money to manage your finances in college rather than taking on additional debt to get by. I found the envelope method to be particularly effective and might be what you have been waiting for. 

Taking on too much debt prematurely, can cripple your finances for the rest of your adult life. 

If you do decide to take out a credit card, make sure that you read and understand the fine print. If you are not able to make credit card payments on time, you can ruin your credit and waste money on interest and late fees.


To Have a Budget You Need Money. So…


Get A Job In College!


You knew that was coming didn’t you? No other way around this finance thing. Make more and spend less really is what it’s all about. 

During college, I rotated between two jobs on campus. One was a desk job as a student secretary, and the other was working in the school cafeteria. 

I recommend on campus jobs because, student employment is usually regulated by the campus and employers tend to be more flexible with your class and study schedule.

My managers were always aware of major exam schedules and would understand if I had to cut back on shifts or not work at all.

A job on campus might not make you the “rich kid”  on campus, but it’s a great option to make income while still being able to have quality time for studies.


Hang out with some kiddos – get a Nanny Job

Another awesome gig you can score as a student is babysitting. A responsible student that parents can hire for a Saturday night outing, is worth their weight in gold.

Parents prefer using babysitters with experience, so get some experience under your belt, even if you have to start with babysitting in your neighborhood.

Depending on rates for babysitters in your location, you can make around $10-$15 dollars or more per hour. Not to shabby! 


Put your intellectual superiority to use as a private tutor

Tutoring is the Goldman Sachs of campus jobs. If you have the proper subject knowledge and the ability to teach, private tutoring is the most lucrative job, with the least amount of time required.  Dr Breathe Easy Finance tutored mathematics in college for a whooping $30 dollars an hour. This was about 14 years ago and the hourly rates are closer to $50 now. That’s easy money right there. By just using your knowledge, you get to help your friends while making money at the same time. Win – Win . 


Enjoying the heat? Then get a Summer Job

Work during the summer and in between semesters and Save! Save! Save! Be like the honey bees and store up for survival.  Breaks from school provide an opportunity to work without the restraint of a rigorous class and study schedule.


You want free boarding? Become a Resident Advisor

Becoming a Resident Advisor builds your professional resume and can literally help you save thousands of dollars in college.

One of the main perks of becoming a RA is free room and board. Not only do you get to live for free, but oftentimes you can select your room and have a single room to yourself.

Some schools also provide their Resident Assistant with a free meal plan, free parking , discounted tuition and a stipend to top it all off.

If you’re a student solely relying on loans with minimal help from family, becoming a resident assistant/advisor is a brilliant way to address a lot of your financial concerns. 


Now that you have made some money, now its time to budget that hard earned money. 


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Get on a Budget

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Cheap Cellphone Plans

Stay on your parents plan for as long as possible. If you must pay your own cell phone bill, forget about companies like Sprint, T-Mobile, At&t and Verizon.

Most of these cell phone companies lock you into a contract with expensive rates and hidden fees. This is a sure way to eat up your budget on something non essential.

Go with a company with a descent service and a cheap pay-as –you go plan. For example, Virgin mobile offers and unlimited talk, text and internet for $40 dollars a month.

You can even go with “pay as you go” plans. 


Avoid Subscriptions

Companies target college students with discounted subscription plans such as Amazon Prime.  

Subscriptions can take up a chunk out of your budget. It usually seems like $10 dollars here and $15 dollars there, which doesn’t seem like much upfront.

However, the money can quickly add up and take away from important necessities.

Beware of free trial periods; it’s a simple method to loop you into subscription.

Companies bank on you forgetting to unsubscribe, so they can charge you for the full subscription fee. 

Keep as much of your cash flow free. 

When I was in college, I listened to free music on Pandora app. Netflix now allows for the use of multiply devices for an additional fee.

If Netflix is a must have subscription for you, you can purchase the Family Streaming option and split the cost among several people.


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These 18 personal finance tips to save money in college will save and make you tons of money.  College is fun but not without money.


Goodbye Starbucks!

Starbucks is a luxury brand. It is a little bit of an indulgence. I love Starbucks, but love it even more when I have a gift card and don’t have to spend $5 dollars.

That’s expensive for a drink, even if it’s phenomenal. For this reason, having Starbucks on a regular basis is not budget friendly for the average college student.  It might be trendy but spendy!

I suggest investing in a coffee making machine and brewing pre-made Starbucks coffee.

This will save you approximately $65 dollars a month and about $700 dollars per year.

You can also just forgo Starbucks altogether and go with a cheaper but quality brand. 

The coffee machine with the best review on amazon is the French Press Coffee Maker With 4 Level Filtration System for just 27 dollars and will likely last you all college and even grad school or medical school. 



Minimize Dining Out In College 

Dining out is a growing epidemic for both the young and old.  American families in general are spending more money on dining out and less time preparing their own meals.

According to a CNBC poll Americans spend approximately $3,008 per year dining out. Whats more, in that same article, 90% of Americans hate cooking and would rather throw money away at a restaurant.

If you purchased a meal plan, minimize dining out and paying for additional food. 

Select a dormitory with a kitchen that includes a stove, where you are able to cook and eat leftovers. My roommates and I alternated the cooking and saved a lot of money not dining out and on our grocery bill.

It turns out that you can save more than 500 dollars every month on a tight budget by minimizing dining out and few other strategies. 

Buy In Bulk

It is not only cost effective to purchase certain items in bulk but also convenient for a college student.

Items such as toilet paper, trash bags, soap, detergent, cereal, nuts, granola bars, drinks (energy drink, Gatorade,)  should be purchased in bulk.

Students go through these items pretty quickly. Buying in bulk will save money and prevent the need to replace these items frequently.


Be a Coupon Kings and Queens

Contrary to popular belief, coupons isn’t for old ladies. Couponing is no longer limited to tedious clipping Sunday’s paper but many coupons are found online and are easy to retrieve, such as Coupon.com.

There are also apps such as IBOTTA, that can help you earn cash-back on every day purchases. The app is simple to navigate and work with leading brands and retailers.


Listen to the Experts And Buy-Generic Brand

Name brands tend to be trendier, with pretty packaging. However, the product can literally be the same as the generic brand.

Compare labels rather than focusing on the appearance of the products. Overall, generic products tend to cheaper for the same ingredients.

Take generic medications. Fun fact! 70% of the general public buys generic, surprisingly, 90% of pharmacist and doctors buy generic. I would follow the experts on this one.

Some other generic products I used was water, milk, spices, sunscreen, meat, frozen vegetables and fruits and canned goods,


Ditch Bottled Water

Bottled water isn’t as safe as we were once lead to believe.

There is tons of new research that highlights the health risk of drinking bottled water, mostly because of the plastic container. For this same reason,  bottled water is also not  environmental friendly.  Drink tap or use a filtered water pitcher. It’s easier on your wallet. 

This is one of the 101 epic ways to save money which we wrote as the most comprehensive ways to save money. Bookmark it. 


Student Discounts

Take advantage of student discounts. Always ask about student discounts before paying full price. This isn’t limited to local businesses near campus.

There are many retail, technology and entertainment companies who offer student discounts.

I attended Broadway plays, basketball games and amusement parks using student discounted tickets.

Here Is a List of Companies that offer student discounts 

  1. AMC Theatre
  2. Amazon
  3. Burger King
  4. Chick-Fil-A (free drink)
  5. Chipotle (free drink)
  6. Charlotte Russe
  7. Club Monaco
  8. Geico
  9. Kroger
  10. Ralph Lauren
  11. Sally Beauty Supply


Spring Break

The most financial savvy way to spend spring break is a Staycation. Just Kidding!

A trip to Cancun, Mexico while in college on spring break is a once in a lifetime experience so you get a pass.

Make sure to plan ahead. Don’t procrastinate and plan a last minute trip. It will end up costing you…literally. Shop around for flights;  to get the best deal.

Save money by booking airb&b rather than a 5 star resort. You also do not have to eat out for every meal. It’s all about balance.

Cook at least one meal per day and enjoy the local cuisine for the remainder. Avoid restaurants and shops that are mostly used by tourist, you will pay more.


Use Menstrual Cups (Ladies Only)

Replace pads and tampons with menstrual cups. You will eliminate the need for reoccurring purchases and save the landfill from waste in the process of doing so.

A menstrual cup is a one-time purchase of about $15-$25 and can last you around 10 years with proper maintenance.  

Here is amazon’s choice menstrual cup for you to check out. Feel free to look around for the ones you like though our link. 


Drinking alcohol is for the rich

College students spend a lot of money on drinking.

I could write 101 reasons why the over consumption of alcohol can be detrimental to your heath and studies but I prefer to appeal to your wallet instead. 

On average, college students spend about $600 dollars in a school year on alcohol. That’s pretty impressive. We all know the kid in college that parties every night and drinks up their budget. Don’t be that kid.



Sale!  Sale! Sale! Sell stuff you don’t need

At the end of each semester, do an evaluation of  all items that can be sold.

Get rid of everything and all things possible.

Firstly, sell all of your books. The book store might be a few feet away and seem like the easiest way to get rid of books, but it is not necessary going to pay you the most money.

I recommend trying these websites to sale books Decluttr, Bookbyte, Bookscouter, Cash4Books, BooksRun, Valorebooks, Amazon and Bookfinder.

You should also sell any instruments or tools you used for a particular semester that you would no longer need for future courses. For example, as a nursing major I would sell items such as goggles and my dissection kit to prospective students.


College is the perfect time to learn how to live a minimalist lifestyle.  It’s the perfect time to learn how to manage a budget, while easing to the world of finance as an independent adult.  Whether you come from money or not, there are many budgeting tips that will help you save in college and start you on the road to fiscal responsibility. 

To get started today, we have a gift for you. Our free budgeting and finance E-book. Download below. 

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There you go. That is a lot of tips for college students and everyone that wish they saved more in college. 

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Now to you. Are there other ways you saved in college? The crazier the better. Let us know. 






This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. One thing I didn’t do enough of was use my free meal plan enough. If you went to the buffet, it was free and used up one meal, but if you went somewhere else it might use a meal but also take extra money out and some didn’t use a meal at all, so I’d spend extra money when there was free food.

    But these are great tips! I wish I knew these back then 🙂

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