5 Easy Ways to Save Money in College

1. Limit eating off campus and buying food at the grocery store.

I think this is the most difficult of all the things to limit. Let’s be honest, dining hall food gets old really fast. After just a few weeks of school, I began to eat out A LOT.  I would order take out or Uber to restaurants with friends. It was costing me close to $30 a trip, so I eventually quit going. I also found myself continually going to the grocery store to buy lunchmeat, soup, snacks, and other items that I could prepare myself in the dorms.  Food purchases add up quickly and before I knew it, I was spending $50 on groceries for things I could have gotten at school for free. Going into my second semester, I focused on limiting my grocery trips and purchases. I started by buying water jugs that I could refill in the campus water fountains. I also began to take fruit, bread, lunchmeat, and snacks back to my dorm from the dining hall. 

2. Search sites like Amazon and Chegg for textbooks to find the lowest prices.

As a first semester freshman, I wish I would have known how to make better decisions about buying textbooks. If possible, do not buy from the campus bookstore. Often, if you do enough research, it is easy to find websites that will sell the book you need for much cheaper. I recommend starting to research prices on books 1-2 weeks before classes begin, so you can have everything shipped and ready for when you return to school. 

3. Continually assess whether a purchase is a need or a want.

It is important to question every purchase you make. For me, evaluating what was a necessity from a desire helped me save a lot of money.  While on trips to the mall or grocery store, only buy items that you absolutely need. It is okay to splurge every once in a while, but I promise you can definitely live without the shoes or new outfit you want. 

4. Limit Uber and Lyft rides.

Nowadays it is very easy to fall into the trap of spending too much money on ride sharing services. I definitely fell victim to this as a first year student. Since I do not have a car on campus, I found it easier to take Uber and Lyft around South Bend instead of the bus. I realized that I had spent close to $150 on Lyft rides to the store, restaurants, and airport.  I finally decided that I would never get back in another Uber or Lyft unless absolutely necessary. Instead, I learned to use the free public transportation. Although it took time (and a few misadventures), I finally figured it out. Go for a bus ride, be okay with the fact you may be gone for a few hours figuring it out. In the end, you will save money! 

5. Try to fit a part-time campus job into your schedule.

If you find that you have a few free hours in the morning, evening, or between classes try and look for an on-campus job to fill your time. Often, on-campus jobs are not very demanding and usually allow time for you to study or do homework.  Library jobs and desk worker positions are the best if you are looking to have a light workload, but still get paid. Even if you are only making $25 a week at a minimum, it’s better than earning nothing!