When you think about college, what comes to mind first? It’s probably the price tag.
Aside from obvious expenses like tuition, you know you need to factor in additional living expenses, such as rent, food, transportation, healthcare, personal spending, and even entertainment.
Does it sound overwhelming? Don’t worry! There are so many small, simple choices you can make today that will pay off long term.
Whether you’re starting your college search or are already in the thick of earning your degree, here are eight tips to save money in college that help you bank some cash and develop a healthy money mindset.
Give to God first.
If you have an income of any kind, commit to giving a tithe (or the first 10 percent) back to God through a local church. (It all belongs to him anyway!)
This practice may sound counterintuitive to some, but tithing is the single most important money stewardship principle. Yes, even for college students.
The sooner you get in the habit, the more opportunity you’ll have to experience the blessings and abundance in the Kingdom of God. Not to mention, your tithes and offerings benefit others and safeguard your remaining finances.
Learn to budget.
Budgeting for college students is not as hard or scary as it sounds. It’s actually quite simple and surprisingly empowering once you commit and get the hang of it.
There are plenty of budgeting tools, training, and applications available. For example, EveryDollar is a free budgeting app to help you track your spending and achieve your financial goals — all from your smartphone.
Learning to budget is as straightforward as knowing your monthly income, estimating your expenses, and keeping a record of your spending habits.
Budgeting will also help you to start saving money in college (if at all possible). Most bank accounts allow you to set automatic transfers from checking to savings. You can also find high-yield savings accounts online, offering better returns than some traditional accounts.
Choose healthy habits.
Think of this tip as preventative. Taking care of your health — physical, mental, spiritual, and financial — will save you money (and time!) in the long run by preventing illness and safeguarding your peace of mind.
Choosing to fuel your body with nutritious foods is always a smart choice, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Planning your meals, using coupons, shopping sales, cooking at home, and buying in bulk (if you have roommates) are all do-able options.
Other healthy habits for college students include spending time with loved ones, prioritizing rest, drinking plenty of water, enjoying the outdoors, exercising, walking or carpooling whenever possible, and making a daily gratitude list.
College is a time of increased freedom and new opportunities, so choose to form healthy habits that will nourish your body and soul.
Always ask about student discounts.
College has its perks! There’s no shame in taking advantage while you can get the best student discounts. In most college towns, many local businesses offer discounts — from coffee shops to car repair.
When you’re out and about, it never hurts to ask. Some online services (e.g., Spotify and Apple Music) also offer student discounts, so be sure to do your research. Your bank account will thank you.
Look for free entertainment (or make your own).
If you live on campus, you’ll likely find free entertainment, including sporting events, clubs and organizations, concerts, recreation opportunities, and more. Scope out your school’s activity calendar to stay informed. For inspiration and ideas, view this list of Crown College student benefits.
Free Admission to Crown Athletic Games, Clubs and Organizations, Disc Golf Course, Lakeside Access, Weight Room, Fitness Center, Coffee Shop, Free Parking Spot, Career Services, Computer + Printer Access
You can also think outside the box when it comes to entertainment and make your own fun. From game nights and book clubs to church or charity events, you’re only as limited as your imagination.
Sell unwanted items or swap with friends.
There are oodles of online platforms that will help you sell surplus clothing, shoes, furniture, and electronics — including Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Etsy, and Poshmark, to name a few.
You could also consider organizing a yard sale or hosting a free clothing swap with friends, helping you purge your closet while simultaneously “shopping” for a few new (to you) items. Don’t forget to donate whatever isn’t claimed to a local charity or shelter.
For textbooks, take advantage of rental options, buy used, or borrow from classmates whenever you can.
Apply for scholarships.
Applying for scholarships may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be shocked by how many students fail to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.
Believe it or not, scholarship options are plentiful. But it takes time to do your research and apply.
Always check your college or university’s financial aid website, where you’ll find a list of scholarships and other helpful resources. Here are a few links to get you started:
- Crown College Financial Aid
- MN Office of Higher Education Scholarship Resource Database
- The Christian Connector
- Guide to College Scholarships
- Department of Labor Scholarship Database
Additional financial aid opportunities include federal work-study and on-campus employment.
Start a side hustle.
We live in a gig economy, which means there are opportunities everywhere for side gigs as a freelancer or independent contractor. Whatever your skills and talents, there’s likely a market: writing, crafting, graphic design, babysitting, running errands, delivering food, etc.
Internships are also a smart way to make money, get college credit, and gain experience in a career field you’re aspiring to enter after graduation. Check your city’s Chamber of Commerce website and your college’s career services office for details.
The bottom line? You can save money in college and still enjoy college life to the full.