College can be expensive, especially for a student living in a big city; from transportation to basic necessities, your expenses just keep adding up! Add going out to eat and drink with friends, and you might find yourself spending past your budget. If this sounds like your college experience so far, here are ten tips that will help save money as a broke college student!
1. Track your expenses.
Whether through using a notebook or a mobile app, listing down the amount you spend each day and on what is a useful tool when living on your own. Not only will you have a clear idea of how much you spend each month, writing down a particularly large sum of money will make you conscious of just how much you’re spending. With everything written down, you’ll have a clear idea of what eats up your allowance the most. Receipt Box is just one app I highly recommend for this step. This is one of the best ways to save money as a broke college student!
2. Cut down on eating out.
Often, eating out can be the biggest financial burden for college students, especially in a city where good restaurants are prevalent and prices are high. Although eating out is sometimes necessary for social events, try to limit this activity to once or twice a week. Utilize your meal plan, if you have one, or cook a simple meal for yourself. These options are often healthier and definitely cheaper.
3. Look for student discounts.
Before making a purchase at a restaurant, cafe, or even department store, search online or ask in person if student discounts are available. Although it’s unlikely many big chain stores will have them, it won’t hurt to ask. For example, Spotify sports a student discount of 50% off, a great deal for students.
4. Use public transportation.
While calling up a Lyft or Uber is tempting, try to use public transportation if you have the time. Especially in big cities, taking the subway or bus is far cheaper than calling a private transportation service. Unless you need to get somewhere quick, public transport is not so bad once you learn the ropes.
5. Treat yourself only once in a while.
Most impulse purchases happen because you think you deserve something that day, so try to limit not very necessary purchases for when you ace a test or essay. You might be eyeing that expensive winter coat, but tell yourself that you’ll get it only if you achieve a certain milestone. This way, you’ll feel more satisfied when you finally buy it, and save money by making big purchases only once in a while.
6. Find used textbook options.
Before jumping ahead and buying those expensive textbooks, ask around if older students have old textbooks they are willing to lend you for the semester. If not, canvas your college bookstore and local bookstores for rented or used options. Don’t rush to buy new books and explore your options first!
7. Search for free events.
We all want to go out with our friends every once in a while, but good events can be very expensive (especially as a broke college student). Going to the club or a concert might be fun while it lasts, but the financial repercussions are great. Search if your school is hosting any free events, such as movie night, touring a museum, or bike rides, to name a few. This way, you can still hang out with all your friends while having fun (and staying sober)!
8. Buy in bulk.
Toilet paper, tissues, notebook paper. These are a few necessities that are easy to find in bulk, and can say you money as a broke college student. Although you might think you’ll never get through the massive supply, its always useful to keep bulk items in storage just in case. Instead of constantly going out to buy that high-quality toilet paper every week, compromise and buy a big package of standard quality toilet paper in bulk.
9. Don’t be afraid to try off brands.
This leads to my next tip, which is to try a few off brands. True, you might be skeptical of them before, but if you’re looking to save money, many copies of popular brands such as Cheerios, Kleenex, and Oreos are not as bad as they seem. They are quite close to the real thing, and if you’re willing to compromise, they’ll save you a bit of money.
10. Take on a simple part-time job.
A simple job, such as babysitting, dog walking or tutoring, can help new students earn a few bucks while they look for an internship or professional job. Often, these jobs are low commitment and flexible, so you’ll be able to drop out of them if your schedule becomes too busy. On the side, they’re also a way for you to take a break from schoolwork and earn some money at the same time.