Penny Pinching 101: College Edition

It's tempting to spend your first weeks doing all the fun city things near campus, but as we approach mid-semester, you may notice your bank account has taken a hit. Whether you have a job or rely on extra support from your parents, saving is a great habit to get into sooner rather than later. Here are some easy tips that can transform how you look at money while you're a student. 


  1. While it may be convenient, making coffee/tea at home or getting it for "free" in the dining hall will cut out a major expense. If you pay for room and board, you have technically already paid for your morning coffee, right?

  2. I already mentioned using the dining hall instead of businesses off-campus, but sometimes you want to treat yourself. Instead of eating dinner and dessert at a restaurant, try to eat a meal in the dining hall and go out for dessert. The dining hall has much of the same meals a restaurant does, but it may not have an ice cream sundae bar!

  3. Instead of going to the movie theater or shopping, attend free events on campus as a source of entertainment on the weekends. Many schools advertise screenings of movies, student-run performances, and activities on campus that are free or inexpensive for students. They may even offer free food, and who doesn't enjoy that?

  4. If you do need to go off-campus, walk to your destination rather than taking public transportation or paying for a ride (weather permitting). The city offers dozens of things to do within a mile walk of school, so save a few dollars and walk. You may even discover new places along the way!

  5. It may seem pretty obvious but give yourself an "allowance." It's an easy way of limiting how much spending money you have at your disposal. When you receive a sum of money, keep only a percentage of it in your checking account or as cash and put the rest away in a savings account. 

  6. In the age of digital money, using cash rather than a debit or credit card seems to be uncommon. Not only is cash convenient if you're in a pinch, but your brain sees a singular $20 bill and $20 on a debit card differently. You may find yourself less likely to use that bill rather than the money in your bank account.

  7. The idea of a ceramic pink pig on your nightstand may seem childish, but saving change in a savings bank is a simple way to build savings. It may take a long time to save a large sum of money, but after months or years, the change can really add up. 

  8. If you have a checking account, there are various apps such as Digit or Acorns, that you can download on your phone to slowly save. You can set the app to take cents from your account every day and accumulate savings through the app. If you have a goal, these apps will get you to it with no sweat off your back.

  9. It may seem like an odd way to save, but trading in bottles and cans for cash can add up over time. You are likely to throw the containers away, so instead, collect them in bags and return them at a bottle/can-return machine near you. You are not only helping the environment, but you are getting money back from consuming. Encourage your family and friends to save for you too.

  10. If you aren't used to shopping in the city, you might not realize that grocery prices are higher in the city compared to outside. Therefore, you should try to buy your weekly groceries in bulk outside the city. Check out Fairfoods, where you can fill a bag of fresh produce for only $2 on certain days. It may be inconvenient to bring bags on public transportation, but it's worth it every week or two to go a few miles out of the city to grocery shop. In the long run, you may cut your grocery spending in half.


These changes to your daily habits require little to no significant modifications in your lifestyle. Implementing these little tricks into my life has not only helped me in college, but in my life before I came to school. I encourage you to pick up some of these tips because it's never too late to get into good saving habits!