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Ballin’ on a Budget in College: Money Management Tips

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Penn chapter.

Managing your money as a college student is anything but easy. See the tips below for advice on how to manage your personal finances! 


During the pandemic, many have been turning to online shopping to make their purchases. If you often find yourself with a full online shopping cart, the “sale” section allows you to make purchases without hurting your wallet (too much). Browsing the sale section is even easier to do online! Additionally, with Black Friday and the holiday season coming up, buying gifts in the sale section is a great way to get a good deal on an otherwise expensive item. 

Some stores currently having sales are Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Madewell, and Sephora. Nordstrom has frequent sales throughout the year, and often their most popular items are discounted.

Another great way to save money is to plan what times of the year you shop, so you can target sales and not overspend. For clothes, the best time of the year to shop is at the end of the season; for example, while it might seem impractical, buying a swimsuit at the end of the summer will be less expensive than buying one at the beginning. 

Money Management Apps

If you have a lot of finances to take care of, downloading an app can help you manage your money, track your spending, and create a budget. One of my personal favorites is Mint, a free personal finance and money management app. Mint helps you set financial goals and organizes your financial health by tracking account balances, monthly expenses, spending habits, credit score, and more. Additionally, the app has a budgeting feature that allows you to create budgets and even recommends saving opportunities based on your spending habits. Mint also provides advice to help with your financial goals, whether that’s building your savings, paying off debt, or improving your credit.

Decide What Days of the Week You’re Going to Eat Out

Planning which days of the week you’re going to eat out instead of in the dining hall or at home can help you manage your expenses. This is especially helpful if you’ve created a budget, as described above.

Many students choose to sign up for a meal plan in college, but everyone wants to eat out once in a while! Deciding how often you can order food is an important part of analyzing your weekly or monthly expenses. This way, if you allot one day of the week for eating out, you’ll be able to predict and budget how much money you can spend on restaurant food on a timely basis. 

If You Have a Kitchen, Make Use of It! 

If you’re one of the lucky students that has a kitchen in their dorm or apartment, make use of it! Buying fresh ingredients at the grocery store and cooking something will save you a lot of money, especially if you don’t want to eat dining hall food. There’s tons of different recipes specifically catered for college students to try!  

Part-Time Jobs

Having a part-time job in college can help ease the burden of some expenses. Many colleges offer part-time jobs or work-study programs right on campus, whether it’s working at the admissions office, as a teaching assistant, at a local coffee shop, or conducting research. Oftentimes, you’ll be able to do your homework, meet new people, or learn a new skill while on the job!

Earn Money in the Summer 

If your school semesters are especially hectic, you can pursue a full-time job or paid internship during the summer to save up for the school year. Admittedly, it can be challenging to find paid internship positions, so even having a part-time job in the summer will help you money-wise once the fall semester starts. This way, you’ll be able to focus more on school and rely on the money you earned over the summer to cover certain expenses. See this article for tips on how to find an internship! 

While it can be difficult to manage your money as a college student, sticking to a budget and staying organized about your expenses can go a long way. Wow, is this what being an adult is all about?

Emily is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Biology, and she also loves reading, writing, and learning languages. Outside of Her Campus, Emily works in a research lab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and hopes to become a doctor one day! In her free time, she can be found playing tennis, looking for concerts in Philly, or buying more candles she probably doesn't need.