Being a college student may sound fun and all, considering you get more independence and time to reflect on your own actions. But with all that freedom coming your way, there also comes responsibility. That, because you will have to fend for yourself financially.

Seeking post-secondary education is a very rewarding thing to do, but the costs of it are high. That’s why we think you should create some ground rules that will help you save money and manage your time in college just fine. Here are some of the most relevant college life hacks that will help you do that.



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How to Save Money As a College Student

Without further ado, let’s jump into what you’re here about: Money Saving Tips for College Students

Buy or rent used textbooks and sell last semester’s books

You can identify many of your fellow college peers who are probably doing the same. Of course, it is better to have some very important textbooks as your own. But if there are others that you think you’re only going to be using throughout one year, then rent them or sell them to somebody else.

However, if you really want to have textbooks of your own, then consider another cheap option, which is buying used textbooks from booksellers or friends. Besides that, try not to buy any additional school supplies. If you are determined to save, you don’t need fancy notebooks when you can write on your laptop instead. It’s even environmentally friendly.

Don’t make impulse-based purchases

You know those times when we shop simply out of boredom? Whether it’s food or clothes, try not to follow that instinct. For instance, do not go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. And if you’re going to shop, do it where they offer student discounts. Luckily, many places will provide discounts, and it’s enough that you have a school ID to prove you’re a student. Most importantly, make a list of the necessary items you need every time you go shopping, and strictly stick to it.

Try to reduce your drinking and smoking

Bad habits die hard, indeed. And it is tough to refrain from drinking once you’re all into that college life. However, if you set your priorities straight (while being sober), you will understand how significantly you can save by reducing either drinking, smoking, or both. It takes effort, but you could invest all that money in something more relevant, say, a trip on the weekend.

Instead of drinking or smoking as a form of stress relief, try healthy alternatives such as going for a simple walk; this way, you keep your mind healthy and save money.

Always pay bills on time to avoid late fees.

We’ve all been there. We have all skipped a round of bills to pay, wasting that money on something else. We think we will compensate next month, and when next month arrives there are new things that we need to cover financially. So to avoid this feeling of suffocation and chaos, make sure you pay your bills on time. Furthermore, if you have a credit card, pay it off as quickly as possible too. Clearing these things off can provide one with an enormous sense of organization.

Most colleges have financial services that offer their students a variety of ways they can pay their fees and tuition, so make sure you get more informed on the financial services provided by the university you are attending. Here at the University of the Potomac, our Financial Advisors can help you by offering you several options to finance your education. Click here for more information on our financial aid services.


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Do not use a car

Student walking from college

It may sound lifesaving, to have your own car and to be able to go places anytime you want to. But cost-wise, fuel, maintenance, and everything related to having a car is far more expensive. Instead, you can choose to walk, ride a bike, or use public transport. These things add up to a healthier lifestyle, keeping you active through the days. If you must have to go with the option of using a car, a good alternative is renting one.

Share your rent

There are countless benefits to sharing rent with other people. Except for the rent money, you will also split the payment for the utilities related or cable packages you all decide to use. Depending on if you’re sharing an apartment with friends or strangers, you can also plan joint meals and split the cost of groceries. An even cheaper option for you, if it applies, is living with your family; this way, you will avoid paying rent and additional costs that come with it. 

Make your own meals

Meal prepping

If you are going to eat alone, then do it your way. Think long term, and stop surrendering to the fast-food industry. Find some time within the day to make your own meals, with the groceries you already have on your fridge. This way, you control your consumerist mind-set and decide to eat consciously.

However, if you really feel the need to treat yourself after a stressful college experience, many restaurants might offer student discounts and quality service, so you might want to consider that. You can save up to 15% by doing this simple activity.

Use your campus gym

The gym downtown may offer one or two fitness tools more than the one your college does, but if you’re trying to save, does it matter? If you’re really committed, then you can stay in shape using what you already have at your disposal. It is very convenient to use a campus gym, as many colleges offer memberships for free or at a reduced rate for students. However, if your college does not offer that, you can always keep in shape by being active; so try walking, running, hiking, or working out at home.

Sell what you don’t need

You don’t want to add up more chaos to your room, by keeping things you simply do not use anymore. And why do that, when you can earn money by selling them! There are plenty of stores and websites that will allow you to do so, such as Poshmark and Craigslist. You can sell your used clothing, furniture, dishes, or tech items. Many students need cheap, used stuff as they are all on the same page as you – looking to save up money.

You can also make your shopping a side income. You can do mystery shopping, which is shopping at assigned venues, and then answering questions about your experience shopping there. This way, you help businesses improve their customer service quality and earn some money.

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Attend the social activities from your campus

It may not sound like so much fun, but sometimes one has to take advantage of what your university has to offer. And they may turn out to be surprisingly fun. Many campuses have an array of museums, they organize movie nights and other social events for lower prices or, sometimes even for free. You can contact student services and ask them for free activities available to students, so you can have fun while at the same time, saving money. 

Look for affordable spring-break options

You do not have to follow a crowd of classmates who are risking it all and wasting their money on an expensive spring break. What you can do instead is to search for more affordable places nearby, or even look for volunteering options abroad. There are many organizations in some of the most touristic places that can take you in for a certain time, covering your accommodation and food. You even get a fulfilling experience along the way.

Some students use the spring break to go back home and visit their families, so consider doing this so you can catch up with them, and why not plan something fun together.

Avoid keeping pets

As tempting as it is, getting a pet, maybe you should wait until after college. A pet can be very expensive, as it will feel like you will need to provide for two people. Not to mention the veterinary bills that will follow. Pet walking is an alternative that allows you to experience what it’s like to have a pet and get paid at the same time.

Attend all your classesstudents attending classes

I know it sounds like a piece of corny advice, and you might be thinking what does this have to do with me saving money. Well, when you think about it, the fundamental purpose of your college experience is for you to absorb as much knowledge as possible. And by skipping classes for which you’re already paying for, it is not the smartest thing to do.

Stick to water

Whether the purpose is avoiding expenses or investing in your health, sticking to water only is your best possible alternative. It is free and keeps your brain flowing productively, which all those sugary sodas do not.

Make your own beverages

However, if you’re aiming for some sugary drinks or caffeine, get a blender and make your own drinks back home. You can even brew your coffee and store it for further usage, to avoid spending money on the coffee shops nearby. You must treat yourself every once in a while, though, as we know, it is hard to refrain from caffeine doses nearby while being a student.


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Track your finances

Student Budget Calculator

Keeping track of where you spend your money is a life savior. To do this, you can use available online tools like Fin Aid’s Student Budget Calculator or the one offered by Once you see where and how you’re spending, you will certainly become more self-disciplined when it comes down to managing your money.

Avoid buying famous brands

You can procrastinate your fancy lifestyle when you have a career in place. But since you’re now focusing on your studies, it is more convenient to buy more generic items whenever possible. Surely you can get decent things with reasonable prices, that are just as good and healthy but that are not necessarily named by a famous brand. Just as with food, you can also shop for clothes at places that offer discounts.

College is hands down the best years of your life! Enjoy it while it lasts, and come out with as little debt as you possibly can.

For more information on how we can help you, please contact us at any time.