How to Save Money in College: 10 Key Ways College Students Can Save

You can save money in college by taking some smart moves to reduce expenses. College students can save money a variety of products and services by taking advantage of discounts such as the good student auto insurance discount. Save money on college expenses with careful budgeting and planning ahead.

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Laura Adams is one of the nation’s leading finance, insurance, and small business authorities. As an award-winning author, spokesperson, and host of the top-rated Money Girl podcast since 2008, millions of readers, listeners, and loyal fans benefit from her practical advice. As a professional accountant and financial analyst for several companies, Laura is a trusted source on various finance ...

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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College is becoming incredibly expensive. Tuition aside, there are still myriad costs that college students need to shoulder, including automobile insurance

As college expenses continue to increase, it is helpful for the savvy college student to know how to cut and reduce costs while still having a fun and productive time at school. Below are 10 ways to save money in college.

Start saving money as a college student right now by comparing auto insurance rates for college students here. Enter your ZIP code to get started.

#1 – Don’t Buy New Textbooks

In fact, if you can avoid buying textbooks at all, that’s wonderful. There are certainly many options for doing so. Check to see if anyone you know has a spare copy. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a hard copy; a PDF usually works very well too. However, if it is necessary to buy a book, consider renting it or buying it used.

Additionally, in some cases, the instructor won’t even get around to the material that necessitates a book.

For that reason, it is often worth it to wait to buy the book until the class is scheduled to start the corresponding unit. There are ways to save money on textbooks after the class is over too. If you have an idea of what your classes will be the following semester, get in touch with the instructors, and ask if they use the same book.

If so, keep it rather than paying for it again later. If not, sell your textbook online or to a local store through buyback programs.

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#2 – Take Advantage of Campus Amenities

Campuses often offer a huge range of perks and freebies to attending students, many of which are easy to overlook. Do some digging and you will likely find many benefits that can lower your living costs.

Some of these are as simple as shower and laundry facilities, but they also commonly offer services such as counseling and dental work for free or at a reduced cost.

#3 – Save on College Transportation

There are some cases when a vehicle is necessary, or will save a substantial amount of time and effort that will justify the investment. If that is the case, find one that is inexpensive, but does not have ongoing issues. Such issues will often require incredibly expensive repairs later on that will defeat the purpose of the initial savings.

If you do need to buy a car, there are ways you can cut the costs other than minimizing the initial payment amount.

As stated, maintenance is a necessary additional expense of a vehicle, and so is car insurance. See if you can find a way to reduce your rate. You may even find insurance providers that offer a good student discount, or students with a high enough GPA.

Additionally, consider looking into public transportation to help facilitate your travel needs. Buses, ridesharing, or perhaps even walking may all be options available to you depending on your proximity to campus.

#4 – Choose College Housing Carefully

It can be very tempting to get into something spacious and flashy if this is your first experience living independently, but it is not worth the financial stress. Shop around to find the most affordable housing possible, as well as affordable renter’s insurance options if necessary.

Oftentimes housing off-campus is cheaper, so it may be prudent to weigh the potential money saved from living off-campus against the travel costs and convenience of living on-campus. It is also often very cost-effective to find a roommate or multiple roommates to split the housing costs with.

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#5 – Don’t Go Out Every Weekend

Choosing not to go out every weekend will not only be easier on your finances, but also on your grades. You can save a lot of money just by focusing on school and using outings as a treat. Food, drink, and entertainment costs can add up quickly. Alternatively, you could also choose to spend free time on less costly activities, like staying in with your friends reading interesting books.

#6 – Buy Groceries in Bulk

Food is usually less expensive per unit if you buy it in bulk. If you become accustomed to utilizing similar ingredients in different meals, you can save a lot of money by buying those ingredients in bulk.

This is especially useful with cheap, filling food that has a long shelf life, like rice. Additionally, this is another area where having roommates can cut costs; ask them to split at least part of the grocery costs and you can all eat more for less.

#7 – Don’t Pay for Unnecessary Subscriptions

It is difficult to enjoy home entertainment in the modern day without paying for subscription services like Netflix or Hulu. Try to eliminate them whenever possible, and check your bank balances to make sure you are not paying for a subscription by accident. If you do keep any, only keep those that you use regularly.

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#8 – Get a Job

This is technically a way to make money rather than to save money, but the two go hand in hand. Getting a part-time job can offset other costs and may allow you to build a safety net.

In fact, remote and freelance jobs are becoming more common, which is particularly convenient for a student who has other responsibilities. Consider checking out on-campus jobs, or swinging by your campus career center to learn more about opportunities in your area.

#9 – Don’t Pay Full Price

Many businesses offer student discounts, even off-campus. Make sure to bring your student ID with you when you are out and about so that you can prove you are a student.

#10 – Stick to Your Budget

Outline a realistic budget for yourself, and stick to it. If you find that you consistently go over budget just for basic costs, crunch your expenses again, you likely missed something that is throwing your budget off, or you have uncontrolled spending habits to wrangle.

You don’t want to make a habit of spending outside of your budget, so it is often a better idea to expand its parameters if you find that is necessary.

Part of those necessary expenses in your budget will be car insurance if you’re going to be doing any driving while at school. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to help you compare the cheapest (and best) policies in your area.

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