Money Saving Tips For College Students

by The Classic Brunette, 4:00:00 AM

Sometimes it's rough being a college student when you're trying to save money. There's always people going out to dinner, friends inviting you to go out shopping, and the temptation to spend money on anything cute, fun, or delicious without a second thought. I'll be the first one to admit that I'm a cheap person who likes to spend money. You may be thinking "Huh? That doesn't make sense, Sami." But it does, I promise! I love buying new things, I love going out to dinner, and I love to buy pumpkins and flowers from the grocery store just as a little pick me up. But, I also am very frugal about my spending and always look for discounts, deals, and any possible way I can save money on anything. I don't like to deny myself what makes me happy (like a bouquet of flowers on a not so great Monday) but I also don't want to be running out of money, because, well, I need that to pay for college! So I thought today would be the perfect time to share a few of my money saving tips that are perfect for all you other college students! Fun fact, most of these tips work for everyone else too! :)

Ask For Student Discounts

This is my favorite tip, because there are so many places that offer student discounts. My favorite places to use my student discount is at the movies, when I'm out shopping at the mall, and if I go out to dinner. You never really know if a place has a student discount unless you ask since most places don't advertise it. I only figured out that my movie theatre offers a discount when one of the ticket salesmen asked if I was a student. And since going to the movies is one of my favorite ways to reward myself for a good week (or to help me unwind after a stressful one) I've saved so much money with the discount I get. Even if you're only saving 10% on your purchase, you're still spending less money! 

Survey Websites and Apps

If you have a lot of free time, this tip will be great for you! Last year I realized that there are websites/apps where you can take surveys, earn points, and eventually exchange those points for cash. Whenever I have a moment of free time I check out the websites to see if there's anything I can fill out for a little spare change. I only like to use places that give cash instead of gift cards (my personal preference) so the site I use is Opinion Outpost and the app I use is Surveys On The Go. Opinion Outpost gives you a designated amount of points for each survey depending on how long it is and what it's about. When you reach 100 points you can exchange it for $100 through Paypal. I believe you can exchange a smaller amount of points for a gift card, but I just prefer cash! For the app there is a dollar amount assigned to each survey, and most of them are pretty short! Some options may require you to do something like go try a meal at a local restaurant, but you'll be compensated a lot more for those ones. Even if you don't qualify for a survey you'll still be paid .10¢! All you have to do is make it to $10 for payout.

Meal Prep

I like to meal prep a week's worth of meals in advance so I don't run into the "I don't want to cook, so I might as well go out" scenario. My roommate and I normally spend Saturday morning/afternoon prepping our meals together (buddy system!) listening to music and cooking away! A few things I really like to prep ahead of time are soups, stews, taco meat, breakfast potatoes, marinated meat, and vegetable sides. It's so easy and it saves me time so I don't have to do much actual cooking during the week and money because I won't feel like I have to eat out. Plus it's a good way of making sure you don't waste the food you buy at the grocery store. I have the problem where I'll buy a good amount of meat and end up throwing half of it away since it goes bad before I get the chance to cook it!

Write A Grocery List and Buy Wholesale

I'm probably not the only one who gets a little distracted when I get into the grocery store. If I'm hungry I'll go on a rampage buying everything and anything that looks appetizing. This is an issue because 1) I'll be wasting money on food I really don't need and 2) I'll most likely forget what I came to the store to buy in the first place. I like to go through my fridge and pantry before heading to the grocery store and check what things I'm out of, what I think I want to eat for the week, and write it all down on a note in my phone. That way I can keep that open while I shop and not spend all my money on things I don't need! Obviously I'll buy something if it really looks good, but I want to make sure my budget is getting spent on the necessities first! I also like to buy as much as I can wholesale, mostly at Costco, and split items with roommates when possible. The easiest things to buy wholesale are meats, bread, frozen meals, and fruits/veggies!

Pay With Cash When Possible

There are obviously times when paying with credit card is a must (like when you're online shopping...) but I like to pay with cash as much as possible. I always know how much money I've put into my wallet, and can easily tell how quickly I'm spending when I look into my wallet and see that there isn't anything there, haha! It's a simple trick, but when I actually have a visual of how much money I have, I'm less likely to spend it!

Save Your Change 

Once a week I like to take 90% of my change and put it in a vase in my room. It's amazing how much change you can amass over a week's time (especially when you're paying in cash). You can even go one step further and start putting every $5 bill you get in your change jar/vase as well. I don't recommend putting $1 bills in because they're pretty common and also really necessary for doing cash transactions! $5 bills are harder to come by, so if you stick all (or even a few) of the ones you come across in your little savings jar you'll have a small fortune in no time!

What are your favorite money saving tips?

You might want to check out my post on setting a budget as well if you're really interested in making a savings plan for yourself!