How to Save Money as a College Student

Published by Hope Nelson 1 month ago on Mon, Apr 15, 2024 12:54 PM

If there is one thing that college students tend to worry about, it’s money. Not only is school expensive, but their courseload means that working a full-time job is nearly impossible. Of course, college can be a gateway to a well-paying full-time job in one’s field of study, but during the time one spends in college, the pay is harder to come by. Therefore, it is vital that college students have the skills and knowledge they need to manage their money.  

If you’re a college student, you might be saving money to pay for next semester’s classes, for example, or you may be planning for rent payments once you graduate. Sometimes, the money you save might just end up in a savings account! No matter your reason for being mindful with your money, here are some tips that can help you out while you’re still in college.  

Use your on-campus resources rather than going off-campus 

It’s normal to want to treat yourself every so often -- but if you’re regularly spending lots of money on off-campus activities like coffee shop runs or meals out, it might be time to ask yourself whether it might be better for your pocket to investigate on-campus opportunities. If you have a meal plan, make the most of it, even if the food isn’t always your favorite. Plus, Concordia offers some great on-campus entertainment opportunities throughout the week. Of course, having fun off-campus occasionally is sometimes very needed – but having fun on-campus, and saving money at the same time, is a great option for most of the time.  

Create a budget and plan your expenses 

Budgeting can be hard, especially if you’re just learning how it works. It’s a necessary part of adult life, however, and college is the perfect “practice space” for budgeting since you’re not yet completely independent. According to Husson University, there are five key steps to budgeting that you should keep in mind. First, calculate what money you have coming in. Then, keep track of what you’re spending. Set both short- and long-term financial goals, compare your income with your expenditures, and adjust your spending habits accordingly.  

This might seem easy, but it does take some time to learn and adjust to a new habit. However, over time, budgeting can become second nature and seem more like a routine than a novel practice.  

Make low-cost substitutions 

This suggestion can apply to many different areas of your life. For example, renting textbooks or buying used ones is a lot cheaper than buying new ones each semester. Making your own coffee in your dorm room is far less expensive than buying it at Scooters, and opting for the store-brand version of your favorite snacks from Walmart can save hundreds in the long-run. The idea behind low-cost substitutions is that these alternatives are similar in quality but differ, sometimes significantly, in price. Being able to look for and find these options is a top-tier strategy for saving some money in college.  

Pick up some extra money in a part-time job 

Although college students can’t hold a full-time job, part-time jobs, especially if your courseload is light and manageable, are a fantastic way for them to earn cash and possibly relevant work experience. Whether you choose an on-campus job, an off-campus job, or an internship, having a job will teach you skills like accountability, time management and team collaboration. Plus, they can provide you with a means to pay for school, purchase textbooks or even use as spending money!  

Avoid going into debt, especially on your credit card 

Paying by card, whether it’s a credit or debit card, is simultaneously beneficial and possibly harmful. While these little plastic devices can make carrying wads of cash a thing of the past, they can also make it so you’re less aware of what you’re spending. This is especially true of credit cards, which tend to seem like “free money” when you’re using them to purchase items but less so when you receive your credit card statement at the end of the month.  

Avoid going into debt on your credit card – it will help you become more aware of what you’re spending and save you money on interest in the short-term but can also improve your credit score in the long-term. Credit scores are extremely important when companies are deciding whether to allow you to take out a mortgage or auto loan, for example.  

Know your habits! 

Finally, it’s vital that you know your spending habits – it's the first step in becoming a more mindful money-manager. Once you recognize where your practices need work and where they’re already flourishing, you can make decisions about which of these tips you may need to implement. Saving money in college can be difficult, but it is possible. Plus, knowing your strengths and weaknesses can serve you greatly in the long-term when you do become financially independent and need to make bigger purchases, from a new refrigerator to a new house.  

Want to learn more about financial aid at Concordia University, Nebraska? Visit our undergraduate costs & aid page.