51 Ways to Save Money in College


26. Join the online community of Couch Surfing 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 entertainment.

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 cents 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. 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.

32. Use Living Social to receive coupons on entertainment, yoga classes, spa treatments, restaurants and more in your city.

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 Netflix.

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 doing it!

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 hair products.

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.

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.



  1. I know someone who just spent $700 for text books for the semester! This is outrageous! Something should be done to help his problem of over costly books!

  2. Siti Nazia Jahir:

    I think this post is very helpful. As a university student, I am my own personal financial manager. It is always a problem for me to manage my money throughout the month. Eventhough everytime after I receive my allowance, I will always try to save it and hide the money somewhere else and will just use it during “emergency”,unfortunately it was never a success because I will always make excuses and act like everything is ’emergency’. Thus, saving is always a problem for me, but after reading tips in this post, I think what I should do is not about saving my money, but to control my spending wisely and take other initiatives, however, words are easier said than done :P Anyhow, great tips though!

  3. Abby:

    My only comment on dumpster diving is this:

    Other than that these are good ideas & I hope my husband & I can use most of them when we go back to college after the military in a year or two :)

  4. Kevin:

    Great tips on saving money, as others in the comment section have mentioned textbooks can be terribly expensive. Renting is a good idea, also buying used is good too. No matter what you do though you need to compare prices, http://www.retextbook.com is a good place to see what your book would cost (new, used or renting) on many websites, all at once.

  5. Brittany,
    Excellent ideas, we actually rented books for our college student from Chegg after reading your article, and it saved us a ton of money! Our son is attending community college to take the core classes and then taking the last two years at a traditional university. He is living at home and working to save money so that he (hopefully) won’t have to have student loans, or just a small amount. You have to be creative in this economy. Good work and job well done Brittany.

  6. I’m a huge fan of Pay As You Go (PAYG) mobile phones for people on a budget as well. TracFone and a host of others are available at even the local quick mart.

    Using a PAYG will limit the phone bill to what you could afford when you topped the phone off and not leave the broke college student with a bill they can’t afford.

  7. SmithMikes:

    I have one more tips for student clothing is this that you will find a horizon of clothing and accessories opened in front of your eyes on hookprice.com, Compare the prices with others, you will find this site on the top place; that’s guarantee as well.

  8. Very good article! Renting textbooks really does help out the costs, I had saved so much money by doing so. A BIO 256 book was going to cost me about $130, but I had saved $100 by renting it. Although, I wouldn’t recommend Dumpster diving. That is illegal in some states. Another tip is google urban gardening. You will save a lot of money on food if you grow your own, and you only need a little space to do so. :)

  9. Gary:

    There are some pretty amazing dumpster diving communities and networks in major cities like NY. I don’t know if there is a much of a scene for that here in Vancouver but it’s working for some people so good for them. Brittany, have you tried this before? I’m kinda scared by the idea but it might be a smart way to save some money.

  10. Get your books online, or as many of them as you can. It’s a great way to also save.

    Good tips! Too bad I didn’t follow many of them in school.

  11. H.B.:

    “Buy in bulk.”

    Buy in bulk wisely. Don’t just buy in bulk because you can or it’s on sale. It’s much smarter to buy what you need and use it, than buying in bulk and winding up throwing out food that goes bad because you could not possibly eat it all. It’s not savings if it winds up in the trash in the end.

    “One more word: Groupon.”

    Anyone else find their deals so amazing they’re getting in on a hot deal every other day? At the end of the year all those hot deals ADD UP. Be smart, and only take advantage of the best of the best. Just because it’s a hot deal doesn’t mean you have to get in on it. Show some restraint.

    “If it’s not on craigslist, you don’t need it. Never buy new. Let’s say it together: “Never buy new.”

    I’d steer clear of buying the following items used: shoes, under clothes (including socks, underwear, pantyhose, etc.), bath towels, and bedding. Sorry, but I have to draw a line somewhere. My issues here mainly have to do with sanitary and safety concerns. Unless the used shoes were barely worn that idea grosses me out.

  12. H.B.:

    “If you own a car, turn off your air conditioning while driving to save gas.”

    Not 100% correct! The rule of thumb is to use AC at high speeds and open the windows at low speeds. During highway driving over long distance especially, it is more fuel efficient to roll up your windows and use AC.

  13. Fabulous article. These are easy ways to save money while in college. A must share with the college-goers.

  14. These are great tips for saving money, but don’t forget about all the entrepreneurial ways to earn more money. As a college student I was frustrated with wages being offered — $7 an hour? How is anyone supposed to pay bills like that?

    But several of my peers, I noticed, were thinking outside the box. Two guys at my college started a business cleaning people’s apartments/houses on the Friday/Saturday/Sunday morning after a party. Their tagline was something to the effect of “When you’re hungover, cleaning is the last thing you want to do.” They earned great money in college.

  15. Great post! I loved all the frugal, budget-minded ideas. One of the ways I lived on a budget in college was by buying textbooks at http://www.half.com and then when I finished using the book for the semester, I resold it. The first term in college, I bought my books from the bookstore as classes started the following day and $400 later I walked out in disbelief. I couldn’t believe how expenseive textbooks were. Never bought textbooks from the university book store again. Following term I shared books with other friends in my classes and split the cost. Then I discovered half.com…. it changed my life… buying used books at reasonable prices and then selling them back usually breaking-even. Best way to utlize this site is ordering books before classes using the ISBN number which some universities post on their site in the information about the required books for each class or by browsing the university bookstore and writing down the ISBN numbers. :)

  16. Great article, Brittany! However, may we suggest a #52? Consider pawning with Pawngo.com! Pawngo has reinvented the 3,000 year-old industry of pawning. It is a great and easy way to get cash fast! Our hassle-free approach poses no risk to your credit. The best part is you don’t even have to walk into a pawn shop…everything is done online, electronically, and via UPS. Check us out at Pawngo.com or feel free to email me at katy@pawngo.com. Cheers and best wishes to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer and Legal Mumbo Jumbo

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.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, I state that I have a financial relationship with companies mentioned in this website. This may include receiving access to free products and services for product and service reviews and giveaways.

Any references to third party products, rates, or websites are subject to change without notice. I do my best to maintain current information, but due to the rapidly changing environment, some information may have changed since it was published. Please do the appropriate research before participating in any third party offers.

For additional information, please review our legal disclaimers and privacy policy.