11 Financial Tips for Your Everyday Broke College Girl

College is a time in your life when you are let into the real world for the first time and you want to experience everything it has to offer, from good (but pricey) food to unforgettable experiences.

However, these things often don’t come for free and soon problems start arising when you look into your bank account and realize you spent your last dollars on concert tickets, take out, and clothes when rent is due next week.

When you’re in college, you’ll quickly realize that having healthy financial skills and habits are absolute necessities—without them, life will become extremely hard for you.

Do you want to know how to save money effectively and earn a small income as a broke college student? Keep reading to find out!

 

  1. 1. Budget, budget, budget!

    Budgeting is a surefire and foolproof way to keep your spending under control and stretch out your money to include both your necessities and wants.

    A budget is a financial tool that has been taken for granted by many—including myself—but it is incredibly useful when it comes to planning out your expenses.

    You can create your own budget on a word document or a spreadsheet online for free, in a journal, or in an actual budgeting book that you can get from a bookstore or online.

    I personally use Lamare’s Financial Budgeting Book & Expense Tracker from Amazon, which has pages for tracking everyday spending, debt pay off, tracking savings, bills to pay, monthly overviews and even motivational quotes to keep you inspired on your way to financial freedom.

    When creating your budget, you should include trackers for spending, bills and income as well as money for those things you want but don’t necessarily need.

    To organize your budget, create separate categories for the necessities you need to spend on such as food, rent, gas, school, and so on.

    Make sure to set realistic limits for each category and stick to it, no matter how tempting it is to get that new shirt you’ve been eyeing at Urban Outfitters or that refreshing iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts.

  2. 2. Monetize your passions and talents

    Indulging in your hobbies and talents is rewarding in itself, but to make money from it at the same is even better.

    Do you have a knack for art and love to draw or paint? Commission art pieces and sell them for a pretty penny.

    Have a passion for sewing? You can either design and create your own clothes to sell them, or you can start your own small tailoring business for those who might need to get a hole in their clothes fixed or a skirt hemmed.

    But you don’t have to have an extraordinary talent or a skill to make money either—as a college student, there are many ways you can utilize your knowledge to make a profit.

    In addition to taking on part-time jobs, you could tutor younger kids in a subject you know you’re good with, or you could sell your class notes and study guides on websites like Stuvia if taking notes is something you already do.

    There are so many ideas and opportunities in which you can monetize your passions; all you have to do is take action!

  3. 3. Save a percentage of your income

    A great way to save money that I found to be incredibly effective is that I made it a goal to save ~70% of my income.

    A large part of my income comes from financial refunds of my scholarships and grants after tuition is paid for, and the rest of it comes from generous family members, side jobs, selling old items that I have, and other little miscellaneous things.

    You can set your goal to however you want, but my personal goal is to save more than I spend, hence the higher percentage.

    However, don’t feel bad if you end up having to spend more than you’d like.

    Rent, gas, and food can get expensive from time to time, so to put those into consideration, opt in to save a lower percentage of your income, such as 30% or 40%.

    It doesn’t really matter how much you save as long as you save something.

    In the long run, it will gradually build up to a substantial amount that you can use on a rainy day.

  4. 4. Coupons are your best friend

    You might’ve thought your grandmother’s obsessive couponing habits were a little ridiculous in the past but now that you have to rely on your own money to get by, maybe grandma wasn’t so crazy after all.

    Where can you find coupons?

    Check your mailbox for magazines, newspapers, and catalogs that may contain coupons.

    Your university may also give out free coupon books, most likely through student organizations, so keep an eye out for that as well.

    Lastly, technology nowadays has become incredibly helpful with saving money.

    Apps like Honey find discounts and sales on your favorite shopping websites to help you buy the things you want for the lowest price possible.

    Groupon is another great app for you to search coupons for various companies and save money on your purchases.

  5. 5. Invest your money in the stock market

    There are many ways you can invest your money, and one option is to trade and invest in the stock market.

    There are two types of stock market trading: day trading and long-term trading.

    Day trading is where you trade shares from different companies on a day-to-day basis (hence its name), and you can generally do this to get quick money if you do it right. However, this is also the riskier option because the stock market is quite unpredictable—anything could happen in the world to cause the value of your stocks to fall, such as a recession or a natural disaster, and thus you end up losing money instead.

    On the other hand, long-term trading is a much safer alternative and, if you invest in the right companies, will generally help you earn a lot more money in the long run than lose. While this will take years to build up, the rewards you reap will be tremendous.

    Make sure to invest in companies that are stable and are predicted to remain that way for years to come—this will ensure you’re making money from your stocks, not losing them.

    Generally, the value of your stocks will increase over time, depending on how well they’re doing.

    An app that allows you to easily buy and sell stocks is Robinhood, which is what I’m currently using and would highly recommend to both new and well-learned traders.

    You can even refer a friend and both of you will receive a free stock after he or she signs up.

  6. 6. Minimize meaningless or impulsive spending

    Craving that Starbucks vanilla latte even though you have a perfectly fine coffee machine at home?

    More often than we realize, we tend to buy things on impulse because we think we want it.

    There are times when we do genuinely want it, but there might be other times when you later realize you didn’t want it as much as you thought it did.

    This will require much disciple and mental strength so while it is good to save money, do not beat yourself over giving in from time to time.

    It’s not bad to occasionally treat yourself, but at the same time, make sure it doesn’t become an everyday thing.

  7. 7. Take advantage of sales

    Paying full price for items? Never heard of her.

    Keep an eye out for BOGOs that are happening at your local grocery stores or favorite shops and save money when you spend on food, clothes, or whatever else you may need/want.

    Funny story: call me crazy but whenever Black Friday rolls around, I personally take advantage of the sales by buying my friends’ birthday gifts ahead of time—even if their birthdays are months away—and leave them in my closet until it’s time to give them out.

    I’ll do whatever it takes to save every penny I can.

    Sales are well worth the wait, so even if you think you can’t wait to get an item you’ve been wanting for a while, you absolutely can.

  8. 8. Purchase discounted gift cards

    Do you have a stack of unused or partially used gift cards that you know you’ll never touch, and you don’t know what to do with them?

    Websites like Cardpool allow people to sell gift cards they’ll never use, for slightly lower than their values.

    You’ll receive your money from selling your gift card within one business day after they verify your card, making this an easy way to earn cash fast (that is, if you happen to have a bunch of gift cards lying around).

    You may also consider buying gift cards to places you frequently shop at to save instantly on everything you buy there.

    For example, you could purchase a Publix gift card worth $50 but you only have to pay $46 for it—you could get a week’s worth of groceries for less than you normally pay for!

    There are no losses here—only wins and cold, hard cash.

  9. 9. Sell your old unused or unwanted items

    If you have old clothing that’s simply sitting in your closet gathering dust, you have the option of selling them through online thrifting stores like ThredUP to earn a decent income.

    Usable furniture from your apartment or dorm that aren’t being used anymore can either be sold online, on websites such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or in person at garage sales.

    However, if you decide to meet up with someone to sell something, take precautions and consider your safety.

    Meet up in a public place if possible and do not give away your personal information unless you absolutely have to.

  10. 10.  Sign up for reward programs at your favorite stores

    There is absolutely no downside to signing up for rewards programs (especially if you can do it for free), and if your favorite shops offer such programs, take advantage of it.

    Points tend to build up fast if you shop there frequently, and the store will reward their loyal customers with things such as free gifts or discount codes.

  11. 11. Take online surveys for product/company reviews

    There are many reliable and trusted websites where you can take surveys and earn a small pay in return.

    I personally use Qmee, a great survey website that has surveys generally for product and company reviews as well as potential ideas of products that people may want to have.

    It also gives you an estimated time of how long it’ll take for you to complete the survey and the money you earn can be directly deposited into your PayPal with a simple click of a button.

    While the money you receive may seem meager (from a couple dozen cents and up to a little over a dollar), it can add up over time and it’s a really easy way to make instant cash.

    I generally put the money I earn into my savings account, but I may also treat myself with a coffee from time to time with it!

And there you have it!

These are some really easy ways you can earn and save money as a broke college gal, but there are still hundreds of ways to make money moves out there!

With enough perseverance and discipline, you can work your way towards the financial freedom you’ve been craving—after all, who else is going to finance all the mimosas, clothes and food you want?