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 college.
That’s fifty-two 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 now.”
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 save gas.
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.
7. 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.”
8. 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.
9. Keep your receipts from grocery stores, which often hold coupons and special offers on the other side. Look up extreme couponing to get inspired.
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 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 for class.
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 hungry. There will be less of an urge to buy everything that looks appealing.
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 closet.
23. One word: Self-control. Restrain from being an impulse buyer!
25. Join Amazon Student and for one year get unlimited free two-day shipping on textbooks and other items. It’s free to sign up for students!
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I'm just an average mom, trying to live a frugal life and get out of debt. I write about things that have (and haven't) worked to improve my family's financial situation. What works for me may or may not work for you, and you should always consult a financial advisor before making important financial decisions.
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