How to Save Money in College on Everything (from dining to textbooks)

How to save money in college

Last Updated on October 27, 2022

It’s no secret that college can be expensive. Between tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other expenses, the cost of getting a degree can add up quickly. For such reasons, it’s essential to learn how to save money in college.

You can hack it all if you just to know where to look. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some tips for reducing your college expenses in every area: from dining to textbooks and more.

Follow some of the tips and you could graduate with less college debt and even walk away richer than you came!

General Ways on How to Save Money in College

Below are some of the best ideas to save money while attending college in general.

1. Use a checking account with no monthly fees

Many banks have checking accounts for students where minimal or no fees are involved. Do your research and find an account that doesn’t have a monthly service fee.

You’ll find that there’s a waiver for students under a specific age. Some major banks have a monthly checking fee of around $10 if not waived. So, this strategy can save you $120 or more per year!

2. Get a credit card with rewards

If you’re going to spend money anyway, you might as well get rewarded for it! There are many great student credit cards with solid reward programs.

Just make sure to pay off your balance in full each month, so you don’t get hit with interest charges.

3. Don’t be late on payments

Another great way to save money in college is by making your payments on time. You’ll avoid penalties and prevent your balance from going up.

Many companies offer discounts for customers who pay their bills on time. This can save you a lot of money in the long run!

4. Create a budget and track your spending

One of the best ways to save money is by creating a budget and sticking to it. Track your spending for a month so you know where your money is going.

Then, cut out any unnecessary expenses and put that money towards savings or debt repayment. You’ll have some money aside for emergencies and have no debt burden to deal with.

5. Apply for scholarships and grants

There are many different scholarships and grants available to college students. Do some research and see if you qualify for any of them.

You can also look for private scholarships from companies or organizations. Many times, these are easier to get because there are fewer applicants.

Scholarships and grants can help you deal with costs like books, food, and housing.

6. Get a part-time job

A great way to offset the cost of college is to get a part-time job. You can work on-campus or off-campus and use your earnings to help pay for expenses like tuition, books, and more.

Here are the best online jobs for students and even more ways to make money in college.

How to Save Money on Textbooks in College

One of the biggest college expenses is textbooks. The cost of textbooks has risen significantly in recent years, making them a major budget buster for students.

7. Rent your textbooks instead of buying them

Many students feel like they need to purchase their textbooks so they can sell them back at the end of the semester. However, you can save a lot of money by renting your textbooks instead.

Just be sure to take good care of them so you don’t get charged for damages!

8. Buy used textbooks

If you do decide to purchase your textbooks, buy them used instead of new. You can find used textbooks for sale online or at the campus bookstore.

Many times, you can save 50 percent or more off the retail price of a new textbook by buying used. Just be sure to check the condition of the book before you buy it.

9. Use the library more often

You’re always free to go to the library to read. Many college libraries have almost any book you want for your research and studies.

If you need a textbook for just a short period of time, consider checking it out from the library instead of buying or renting it. This is a great way to save money if you only need a book for a few weeks.

10. Get digital textbooks

Another great way to save money on textbooks is by getting digital versions. Many publishers now offer digital versions of their textbooks that you can access on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

These digital textbooks are often cheaper than the print versions and they’re more convenient to carry around with you.

11. Share textbooks with a friend

While not the most convenient idea, you can also save money by sharing a textbook with a friend or classmate.

Just be sure to make copies of important chapters or sections so you have your own material to study from.

How to Save Money on Dining in College

Eating out can be a major budget buster for college students. If you eat out just once a day, you can easily spend $100 or more per week on food.

That’s why it’s important to save money on dining in college. Here are some great tips to do just that.

12. Cook your own meals

One of the best ways to save money on dining is by cooking your own meals. This can be a big challenge if you’re used to eating out all the time, but it’s worth it in the long run.

You can save a lot of money by cooking your own meals and you’ll be healthier as well. Start by stocking your pantry and fridge with some basic staples like rice, pasta, beans, and more.

Then, try to cook simple meals like pasta with sauce, stir-fries, and more. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to cook your own meals and how much money you save in the process.

13. Pack your own lunch

Another great way to save money on dining is by packing your own lunch. This can be a bit of a hassle, but it’s worth it in the long run.

You can save a lot of money by packing your own lunch every day. Just be sure to pack food that you actually like to eat so you don’t end up wasting money on lunches that you don’t eat. You can even also pack left leftovers from dinner to save even more.

14. Choose your meal plan wisely

Meal plans are often required for students who live in the dorms, but they can be quite expensive. If you have the option to choose your own meal plan, make sure to pick one that fits your eating habits and budget.

Even when cooking your own meals, a meal plan can help you cut your food budget. Without a proper meal plan, you can easily find yourself ordering food from expensive restaurants.

15. Eat out less often

Of course, you can also save money on dining by simply eating out less often. Try to limit yourself to eating out once or twice a week and you’ll save a lot of money in the process.

Whenever possible, try to take advantage of campus dining options like the cafeteria or food court. These places are often cheaper than restaurants and they offer a variety of foods to choose from.

16. Use a cash back app

A cash back app rewards you for the shopping you’re already doing online and in-store. Besides these rewards, you can also access deals and coupons from thousands of stores that you may like.

BeFrugal is one example of a shopping rewards app to use. You can earn cashback when shopping online for groceries, food from restaurants, essentials, and more.

Feel free to also check out these other ideas to save money when shopping for groceries.

How to Save Money on Entertainment in College

Most college students like entertainment, which is good for that fresh feeling. But entertainment can be costly. And there are numerous ways to ensure not all your money goes down the entertainment drain.

17. Look for free events

One great way to save money on entertainment is by looking for free events. There are often a lot of free concerts, movie screenings, and other events happening on campus and in the local community.

You can also find a lot of free events by checking out the websites of local museums, parks, and other attractions.

18. Take advantage of student discounts

Many businesses offer student discounts on entertainment options like movies, concerts, and more. Be sure to take advantage of these discounts when they’re available.

You can also save money on entertainment by using your student ID to get discounts on things like movie tickets and more.

19. Find cheaper entertainment options

There are often cheaper alternatives to popular entertainment options. For example, you can save money on movies by watching them at home instead of going to the theater.

Another idea is to save money on concerts by listening to music online or going to smaller shows instead of big arena concerts.

20. Get a new hobby

Maybe you don’t have much to do in your free time. Getting a new hobby can save you some college money. When you have a hobby, you won’t feel the need to spend money going out as much.

A great strategy is by finding one that can be done for free or cheaply. There are many options available, from hiking and biking to photography and cooking.

21. Go to YouTube

YouTube has lots of videos on various topics. It’s one of the best sources of entertainment online for students and anyone else.

You can save money by watching videos on YouTube instead of going out and spending money on entertainment. YouTube is also useful for finding new ideas on how to entertain yourself cheaply or at no cost in your area.

How to Save Money in College Living Off-Campus

If you live off-campus, you have a few more expenses to deal with. But there are still ways to save money on your rent, utilities, and other costs.

22. Look for cheaper housing options

One way to save money when living off-campus is by looking for cheaper housing options. There are often apartments or houses available for rent at a lower cost than the typical college dorm room.

So, don’t settle for the first nice and vacant apartment you get. Going around a little to do the search might be tiring but it pays off. You can always search online too.

23. Pay attention to the location

Location is an important factor that can determine your living costs in college. Some places are more costly to live in than others.

Only choose a place with housing options that fit your budget. You can even live a bit further from school as long as you save more money on housing. Just do the math and ensure that the transportation costs won’t be higher.

24. Share living costs

You can also save money by sharing an apartment or house with one or more other students. This can help you split the cost of rent and utilities.

Make sure you only share the expenses on things you all use. Each one of you can take care of their own expenses when it comes to personal stuff.

25. Share a car

You don’t need your own car if you’re looking to cut down on college costs. If you have one, selling it might even be a great idea.

You can share a car with your roommates or friends to save money when going to college. The gas and insurance costs will go down if a few of you are making contributions.

26. Live near campus

If you live close to campus, you can save a lot of money on transportation. You won’t have to worry about the cost of gas or parking.

You can also save money by walking or biking to class instead of taking the bus or driving. This is good for your health too!

27. Live with your family members

You can just live at home with your parents to save money on almost every basic need while in college. A sibling can also accommodate you until your college life is over.

Of course, this isn’t an option for everyone. But if you can make it work, it’s a great way to save money as a college student.

Final Thoughts

Saving money in college is important if you want to graduate with little or no debt. These are just some of the ways you can save money in college. If you use these ideas, you can save money on everything from textbooks to dining and living expenses.

Be creative and resourceful to find more ways to cut your expenses. The key is to be mindful of your spending and to make wise decisions with your money.

What other ways have you found helpful in saving money while attending college? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to check these cheap date ideas for college students that can take your saving game to the next level!

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About Mike Stuzzi

I'm a blogger and Internet entrepreneur with over 7 years of experience in writing and personal finance. Contributed posts to major sites like Lifehack. I help Millennials make money and manage their finances effectively.

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