Things Your Parents Never Taught You: 10 Ways to Save Money

Howdy! If you’re new here, let me tell you what this blog series is about! This is the third blog of our series “Things Your Parents Never Taught You”. Our Goal at Find My Place is to empower students in all aspects of their lives. Quite simply, Find My Place is created BY STUDENTS, FOR STUDENTS! We want students to find answers and ease about their finances (such as taxes!), their personal situations (read all about bad roommate stories!), and, most importantly, housing (and where to find it!). We believe in you!

Saving money as a college student is harder than it seems. We have so much going on in our lives: classes and homework, social life and activities, friends and family, not to mention jobs and debt! However, saving money is not just about finances; it’s about simplifying our lives, getting organized, and exercising self-control!

So let’s dive into it – here are 10 practical ways to save money as a college student:


Buy used or rent textbooks!

Buying used or renting textbooks is a smart financial move for college students because it can lead to substantial savings each semester. New textbooks often come with a hefty price tag, but opting for used books or rentals can slash costs significantly. Websites like Amazon, Chegg, and campus bookstores frequently offer used textbooks at lower prices than their new counterparts. Renting textbooks is another economical option, allowing students to access required materials for a fraction of the purchase price. By choosing these alternatives, students can allocate more of their budget towards other essential expenses, such as tuition, housing, and everyday living costs, without sacrificing academic preparedness.


Limit eating out

Limiting eating out is crucial for college students looking to save money because dining out regularly can quickly deplete a tight budget. Cooking meals at home is not only more cost-effective but also allows students to have better control over their nutrition and portion sizes. By planning meals ahead and buying groceries in bulk, students can significantly reduce their food expenses. When eating out is necessary, opting for budget-friendly options like food trucks or local eateries with student discounts can help stretch your dining dollars further.  Additionally, preparing meals in batches and using leftovers creatively can further minimize food waste and save money over time. Making these adjustments can free up funds for other academic and personal expenses, promoting financial stability throughout the college years.

Take advantage of student discounts

Taking advantage of student discounts is a savvy strategy for college students aiming to stretch their budgets further. Many businesses understand the financial constraints students face and offer discounts on a wide range of goods and services, from clothing and electronics to movie tickets and transportation. Always carrying your student ID and actively seeking out these discounts can lead to significant savings over time. Major retailers like Apple, Best Buy, and Spotify offer special pricing or membership rates for students, while local businesses such as restaurants and cafes often provide discounts that make dining out more affordable. If you’re looking to really save money, try buying a Starving Student Card or check out this website that gives 80 different places students get discounts! Whether shopping online, exploring your local community, or planning a trip, leveraging student discounts wherever possible allows students to enjoy their college experience without overspending.

Split costs with roommates

Splitting costs with roommates is a practical approach for college students to lower their monthly living expenses effectively. By sharing rent, utilities, and grocery bills with roommates, students can divide the financial burden and enjoy substantial savings. This arrangement not only reduces individual expenditures but also allows students to afford better living accommodations or allocate funds towards other essential needs. Websites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or university housing boards are great places to find potential roommates or shared living arrangements that fit your budget and lifestyle. Establishing clear agreements and communication regarding shared expenses ensures financial responsibilities are managed efficiently, promoting a more financially sustainable college experience.

Cook your own meals

Cooking your own meals offers significant savings for college students by reducing expenses associated with dining out or purchasing pre-made food. Learning basic cooking skills allows students to prepare affordable and nutritious meals at home, avoiding the higher costs and often lower nutritional value of restaurant meals. By planning meals and buying ingredients in bulk or on sale, students can stretch their food budget further while enjoying healthier eating habits. Resources like budget-friendly recipe websites, YouTube cooking channels, and beginner cookbooks provide accessible guidance for students looking to improve their culinary abilities without breaking the bank. Embracing home cooking not only saves money but also fosters independence and promotes a balanced lifestyle during the college years.

Use public transportation

Using public transportation instead of owning a car offers substantial financial benefits for college students. Public transit systems typically provide cost-effective options for getting around campus and the surrounding area, eliminating expenses such as car payments, insurance, gas, maintenance, and parking fees. By utilizing buses, trains, or trams, students can significantly reduce their transportation costs while contributing to environmental sustainability by reducing their carbon footprint. Many universities also offer discounted or free transit passes for students, further enhancing the affordability and convenience of public transportation. Exploring these options not only saves money but also promotes responsible budgeting and enhances mobility without the financial burden of car ownership.

Avoid credit card debt

Avoiding credit card debt is crucial for college students to maintain financial stability. While credit cards offer convenience and flexibility, using them for everyday expenses without the ability to pay off the balance in full each month can lead to high-interest debt that quickly escalates. Interest charges and fees can accumulate rapidly, burdening students with unnecessary financial stress and potentially damaging their credit scores. Instead, students should prioritize using debit cards or cash for daily purchases, which limits spending to what they can afford at the moment. Establishing responsible credit habits, such as paying bills on time and keeping credit card balances low, is essential for building a positive credit history and avoiding long-term financial pitfalls. By exercising caution with credit cards and focusing on budgeting within their means, students can effectively manage their finances and avoid the pitfalls of debt accumulation.

Get dorm/apartment furniture used

Buying used dorm furniture and decor is a practical strategy for college students to save money without sacrificing style or functionality. Furnishing a dorm or apartment can be expensive if opting for new items, but gently used furniture found online through platforms like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or local thrift stores can offer significant savings. These sources often provide a wide selection of pre-owned furniture that is still in good condition, allowing students to furnish their living space affordably. Shopping second-hand not only reduces upfront costs but also promotes sustainability by giving used items a second life instead of contributing to landfill waste. By exploring these options, students can create a comfortable and personalized living environment while staying within their budget constraints throughout their college journey.

Explore free or low-cost activities

Exploring free or low-cost activities on college campuses is a fantastic way for students to enjoy entertainment while sticking to a budget. Universities frequently host a variety of events such as concerts, movie screenings, art exhibitions, and guest lectures that are either free or available at a nominal cost for students. These activities not only provide opportunities for socializing and cultural enrichment but also help students save money that would otherwise be spent on expensive outings. Additionally, campus clubs and organizations often organize free events and outings, ranging from outdoor adventures to community service activities, allowing students to engage in diverse experiences without breaking the bank. By taking advantage of these opportunities, students can make the most of their college experience while prioritizing financial responsibility.

Stick to Your Budget

Sticking to a budget is essential for college students to maintain financial stability and achieve their financial goals effectively. By creating and adhering to a budget, students can track their income and expenses closely, ensuring that they are living within their means and prioritizing savings. This disciplined approach allows students to allocate funds wisely towards tuition, housing, groceries, and other essentials, while also setting aside money for emergencies or future goals. Tools such as budgeting apps, spreadsheets, or even simple pen-and-paper methods can help students monitor their financial transactions and identify areas where they can cut costs or adjust spending habits. Start by figuring out all your costs and sources of income, then every week track your spending. BUDGETS ONLY WORK IF YOU ARE DISCIPLINED. By establishing a clear budgeting strategy early on in their college careers, students can develop strong money management skills that will serve them well beyond graduation, promoting financial independence and security.


Navigating the financial challenges of college life requires proactive strategies and mindful spending habits. From buying used textbooks and cooking meals at home to leveraging student discounts and sharing living expenses with roommates, there are numerous ways for students to save money without sacrificing their college experience. Embracing these practices not only fosters financial independence but also promotes responsible budgeting and prioritization of expenses. By making informed financial decisions and sticking to a budget, students can better manage their resources, alleviate financial stress, and pave the way towards a more secure future beyond graduation. Remember, each dollar saved today contributes to a more financially stable tomorrow.


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