Money Saving Tips for College Students on a Budget

Most college students try to live on small budgets, however many fail to do so. If you are able to spend your money wisely while at school, however, you can graduate with less debt. Whether you are receiving a college education in the classroom or are going through an online degree program from home, budgeting while in school is necessary. Let’s take a look at some easy money saving tips while attending college.


  • Get a free checking and savings account. Looks for banks that cater to students.
  • Keep track of your checking account to avoid losing money through overdraft fees. Your debit card can cost you a lot of money if you don’t know how much money is in your checking account.
  • Unless you think you really need one, don’t carry a credit card while attending college. You’ll probably buy things you don’t need. Payments on the interest can really add up.
  • Don’t use student loans to cover expenses for anything that is not school related.


  • Eliminate the morning mocha or cappuccino at the local coffee house. That adds up over four years. If you simply must have coffee, buy a coffee maker. It will save you a lot of cash.
  • For breakfast, oatmeal is very affordable, nutritious, easy to make, and filling.
  • Collect coupons and review the weekly sales at the grocery stores. Avoid upscale markets.
  • Don’t buy bottled water unless the tap water is unhealthy.
  • If you’re not living in a dorm bring your own lunch to school.
  • Don’t go shopping when your hungry.


  • If you’re dating, consider having a meal at home. Create some ambiance and ask your roommates to hang out somewhere else for the evening. You can return the favor later.
  • Go through the local newspaper and look for upcoming free events such as concerts, festivals, arts and craft fairs, and plays.
  • Save money on movie tickets by going to the matinee showings. Also, a lot of campuses show free movies.
  • Save money on entertainment by making your own movie with friends. You’ll probably have a great time. Make a short film or a music video.
  • Buy used CDs at the local music shop or online.
  • Don’t buy electronic toys and gadgets. You don’t really need them.
  • Borrow movies from the local library. Libraries usually have a large collection of movies to choose from.
  • If you want cable television choose the cheapest plan they offer. Avoid all the premium channels. You probably don’t need an expensive cable television package to enjoy college life.
  • Join an intramural sport team. You can have fun and get free exercise.


  • Avoid text messaging. You may end up paying a lot of money in extra fees. Since text messaging is typically charged to both the sender and the receiver, ask your friends to refrain from sending you text messages. Also, some cell phone plans have a maximum number of free text messages. Use the telephone or send emails.
  • Put on more layers of clothing instead of turning up the heat.
  • Use a free or inexpensive Internet phone calling service. VoIP calls have increased in quality.
  • Buy used college textbooks.
  • For exercise go to an on-campus gym. You can usually use the equipment for free.
  • If it’s not necessary don’t have a car while attending college. You can save a lot of money this way.
  • College students can get discounts on computer software, so be sure to look into this.
  • Take advantage of student services. A lot of colleges have numerous free services.
  • MH4C has some more tips on ways to send money.

Use these tips and save money. When you graduate, you’ll be glad you did!

Author Bio: Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of topics related to career and education for BrainTrack.

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11 Responses to Money Saving Tips for College Students on a Budget

  1. Great post. I wish I read this when I was in College. There are many advantages and discounts to students, one just has to look for them and ask.

  2. Great tips for the college student especially with them going back for holiday. I teach grad school and this would even be helpful for some of those students.
    You would be amazed by the pile of credit card offers in students mailboxes when they know the students have no income.

  3. There are so many great free resources on most campuses. I got free t-shirts, almost all events are free, and it’s not being cheap because it’s convenient and it’s easy to get friends to be onboard for a convenient plan!

  4. I wish I would have had this list in college. I didn’t do too bad, but I also had parents that gave me a LOT of tippers about financial restraint while being at the University. The two factors you listed that I saw had the worst impact on my friends, however, were overdraft fees and their need for always having a new car.

  5. Great list of stuff. I don’t know about the text messaging thing though. Many college students I know get low-minute plans and unlimited texting (most of the pay-as-you-go phones offer unlimited for around $15/month). So, they rarely use the phone, or use things like Google Chat for free calling or VoIP, then text everyone.

  6. Prepaid cell phones and I am not joking at all. I have had to explain some pretty hefty bills to my mom over the last two years (mostly roaming and some overages) and some have been crazy. Since I move between New York and Toronto for school, I decided to just carry a prepaid cell phone and plan that I can use in both countries and save money. I got it for Christmas actually from mom and it was an Nokia E71 from Straight Talk – not one I had heard of before. Luckily, my mom made the right choice with an unlimited plan and no extra roaming or overage fees for me and the right one for herself with it being $45 a month.

  7. Another idea my friend suggested, was to sell your used textbooks, and buy only used too. And not from the University Bookstore because they normally charge way more than what they are worth. I got my used university textbooks online. Apparently you can now even sell your tutorial notes! I wish I’d know that before I threw mine out last year!

  8. The best thing I did during my college career to save money was to get out of my contract cell phone. I was spending loads of money on a contract phone and wasn’t even using all the minutes! So I asked around and found out about prepaid cell phones. I got a TracFone and saved over $50 a month. Not only that, but I paid ONLY for the minutes and texts that I used!

  9. I actually think it’s a good idea to get a credit card while in college. If you can be responsible with it and pay off your bills in full each month, you’ll build up some nice credit history.

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