Ways to Save Money at College

Being a full time student can be tricky sometimes, especially when you like to buy many (useless and unnecessary) things like most college students. For example: when you need to buy a coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks because “they make it better”, when you need Chipotle once a week because “why not”, or spending an absurd amount of money online shopping because “treat yourself”. It’s these mindsets that make us happy, but make the number in our bank accounts drop like crazy! What if there was a way to still “treat yourself” while spending minimal/no money at all?

Here are a few ways to save money in college:

1. Take advantage of your dining hall.

You pay for a meal plan; you might as well use it. Most people walk into a dining hall and just see the main meal and say, “they have nothing”. But if you open your eyes a little wider, you will see they have many options that when combined right, might equal something you are willing to spend $10+ on. For example, we're sure all dining halls offer a coffee/tea station. Take advantage of it! They most likely have several sweeteners, milks, flavors etc. that’ll taste just like your Dunkin’ order, and will save you that $3 a day. 

Another thing to take advantage of in your dining hall is the condiments. If you are the type that likes to have a bottle of ketchup in your room for some reason, don’t buy it. Chances are your dining hall will have Heinz Ketchup already with mini to-go cups for the condiments. Take them with you and save your money!

It’s little tips like this whether it be taking ketchup or taking packs of sugar from the dining hall, even though these may seem like small costs they eventually add up!

2. Budget. We all know this is easier said than done, but if you create a budget sheet to limit yourself on what you can and can’t spend your money on that week/month you will never be surprised by your negative checking account again.

Set aside ‘x’ amount of money each week for “treating yourself” and really try to not exceed it. If you find that you will ignore your budget and will just go over your budget, try this tip: if you have a debit card, keep all of your money in your savings account except your budget, keep that in your checking account. This way if you “need more money”, you will then need to transfer it from your savings to your checking. Although this task is easy, it gets very annoying and it also forces you to have to go into your bank account often and actually see the numbers you are dealing with.

3. A lot of meal plans at universities come with some sort of dining plan. Use those dollars!! They are basically your monopoly money on your campus, and they can be used at more places than you think. So if you’re the type that likes to buy Lays chips when you go grocery shopping, don’t. Buy them with your dollars that come with your meal plan! Chances are almost all cafes on the campus that accept the dining dollars are selling name brand snacks that you are spending your own money on!

4. Take advantage of anything “free”. A lot of times universities will give out “free things”, whether it be free pizza, apparel, or coffee. Technically you have already paid for these things because it is somehow included in your tuition, so get the bang for your buck, and eat all the free food you can!

These hacks might not save you millions, but they will definitely save you an extra $30 a month, which to college students is a lot!