5 Ways to Save Money in College

credit cards

Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Emma Martin, Student at Ithaca College

My college is ranked the 68th most expensive private college in the country. I chose my school because I LOVE the program they offer, but it is difficult balancing such an expensive school on a college student budget.

Regardless of where your school falls on the ratings, I’m sure you relate to my financial struggles. Beyond tuition, a semester at school can be quite costly. However, if you’re mindful with your money, you can find numerous ways to save up.

1. Buy Your Groceries

What I mean to say is … do not merely order in. Ordering in or picking up food every time you’re hungry can end up costing quite a bit more. Don’t be afraid to join in with friends once in a while, but packing a lunch from home and cooking dinner regularly can be a great way to stay healthy while limiting spending.

2. Save on Alcohol

Many students send their paychecks directly to the nearest liquor store or bar by overindulging. Limiting your alcohol intake doesn’t mean you can’t drink, but have a little less more often, and you’ll find yourself having extra cash at the end of the week.

Going out can add up between cabs, cover charges and drinks. It’s all about prioritizing! Also, only bring out a certain amount when you go out. Not only do drunk people continue to buy drinks even when they shouldn’t, but drunk people also have a tendency to lose track of their money. No good!

3. Don’t Compare Every Outfit

Outfit envy happens a lot in college, but you don’t need to “keep up with the Joneses.” Be real with yourself: You don’t need to replicate every trend you see! Don’t allow that cliquey mentality to set in.

Buy things you need and like and don’t just shop for a label. That doesn’t mean you can’t have brands you trust and prefer, but remember, quality > quantity.

Get creative with the closet you own! Find ways to make new outfits with slight changes of accessories, and you’ll still be able to mix things up without maxing out your cards.

4. When You Do Need New Clothes, Shop Smart

When you do want to pick up something new, try stores like T.J.Maxx or Marshalls because they have amazingly discounted rates. I always keep my eyes out for coupons and sales, too!

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with a couple of super cute upscale thrift stores I’ve found. On a recent thrift trip, I spotted a 100 percent cashmere sweater from J.Crew that looked brand new for a mere $35 … Still great quality, but far more manageable. Try not to waste your money on a ton of cheap stuff either – stick with brands and materials that will LAST. I mean, a few cheap, super trendy going-out outfits are great, but in the long run, you’ll prefer items you can get use out of.

5. Save on Textbooks

Instead of just buying all of your textbooks through the school bookstore, check out rental sites like Chegg and used bookstores like Amazon. Comparison shop.

Also make sure to check in with students who have previously sat through the course with the professor. Find out if the book is even used! Sometimes, they are merely “suggested reading choices.” If it is utilized in class, ask them if they’d be willing to lend you the book or sell you it at a good price.

Many students wait until the first day of class before picking up books because many professors introduce books they haven’t listed or explain that the book will not be used in the course. If a book is simply too expensive, email your professor. Often times, they will lend copies or can suggest older versions of the textbook. They’re sure to understand your position!

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!