If you’re a student in college or university, whatever country you’re in, you’ll have heard of the term, ‘student budget’. College is expensive, and as they aren’t in a job earning yet, students are notoriously broke and always looking for ways to save or earn money.
Working out how to save money in college is a smart move. While the prospect of racking up a large amount of debt puts many off studying altogether, there are a few things you can do to improve your financial health and reduce the amount of debt you accumulate while studying.
Here we provide you with our top 10 tips to use as a student, or even later on in life, to save money by doing things so simple that you may not have thought twice about!
- 19% of students have nothing in savings, relying only on their income each month to cover university costs.
- But don’t stress – saving money as a student doesn’t have to be difficult!
- Simple ways to save as a student include buying second-hand clothes, doing meal prep or even taking on a side-hustle.
- Learning how to budget is a great way to guarantee savings, and a useful skill to have for later in life.
How to Save Money as a Student
1. Look into buying second-hand goods rather than brand new where possible!
Buying second-hand goods is a great way to save money as as student, because prices are usually much lower than for brand new items. Spend some time at your local thrift or charity stores around your college looking for second-hand goods, and you may be surprised at the treasures you find – high quality clothes, vintage accessories, interesting little ornaments or antique books – all for a bargain price.
We’re not saying that you need to be buying second-hand socks and underwear, but vintage clothing is actually extremely fashionable at the moment, and you never know what kind of deals you could find on really cool items of clothing!
2. Try to leave food shopping to later in the day.
Many supermarkets have a clearance sale in the evenings, where any food due to go out of date is sold at a marked-down price. Bread, seafood and dairy products go on sale, and many vegetables, fruits and other fresh produce are labelled with a reduced price. These are great bargains for students, since the foods usually won’t actually expire for another few days. Next time you go grocery shopping, try popping into the store a few hours before it closes and check out the prices. There’s a massive difference!
3. Cook for yourself instead of getting take-out everyday!
Cooking for yourself definitely helps you save money as a student. Eating out is one of the most expensive things you can do, especially if you study in a city where a lot of restaurants are pricy. Not only is cooking for yourself cheaper, but also healthier, better for your body and it can be a fun thing to do with your friends.
4. Search for free entertainment.
Many people think having fun means spending lots of money on movies, parties, clubs, theme parks or other local attractions. In fact, there are many types of free entertainment available in any city – it just requires a little extra effort and dedication to find!
Use the internet to search for all kinds of things to do free of charge, such as museums, parks and more.
5. Take advantage of student discounts!
It’s also important to remember that many clubs, cinemas and movie theaters will offer discounts for students – if it’s not clearly advertised, just ask. The college itself will have plenty of cheap entertainments going on, and joining student clubs will often mean you get to benefit from even more discounts.
6. Opt for shared living space instead of a 1-person apartment or studio.
One of the best ways to save money in college is to live in a shared house or apartment, rather than living alone. By splitting your rent between a group as opposed to paying it all yourself, you’ll save a significant amount each month. Plus, you will also be able to split the utility bills and the cost of any shared furniture, saving you even more money each month.
7. Take on a side hustle.
An excellent way to save money in college is to take on an extra job or two alongside your studies. Although a great deal of your time will probably be spent with your nose deep in a textbook, you can likely afford to spend 15–20 hours a week earning a bit of cash on the side at a bar or cafe.
8. Learn to budget.
If you want to really improve your overall financial health for the long-run, one of the best ways to save money in college is to learn how to budget. This means having a solid overview of your monthly income streams and expenditures, and optimizing your spending so that you can start putting some money toward reaching your savings goals.
Start by cutting down on discretionary spending and do your best to follow the 50/30/20 rule (Put 50% of your after-tax income toward things you need, 30% for items you want and 20% into savings). And if you don’t have income, give up a small item and put that money into savings. If you give up getting coffee out for a month and would normally spend $12 on coffee, put that $12 a month into your savings. After a year, its hit $144 — plus compound interest.
There are also many budgeting apps out there that can help you take control of your finances, and the independence you learn from this will stay with you later in your life.
9. Plan your meals in advance.
By planning your meals in advance, you can get a good estimate of how much your ingredients will cost so it’s easier not to go over budget as you shop. It also means that all the ingredients you buy, you will use.
A staggering amount of household food waste is thrown away every week because of poor meal planning. When you start to equate throwing away unused food with throwing away money, it’s easy to see how having a meal plan can end up saving you a lot of money in the long-term.
10. A Penny a Day!
Finally, there is no better way to conclude this article than with an old-fashioned way to save money. Think of it as a challenge – all you have to do is start with one penny, then put aside two the next day, continue with three the day after, and if you manage to keep up this trend for a whole year, you’ll be able to save over $650!
Well there you have it! This guide has offered our top-10 ways for you to save money as a student. These habits will not only help you save in your college years, but will stay with you after college and be highly useful for when you move to the working world.