Empower Blog

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August 17, 2021

Money Saving Tips for College Students

College-Career Planning, Money Management
Earlier this summer I shared some tips and tricks to decking out your college dorm room without breaking the bank. With more and more students heading back to their college towns, I thought I would share some tips for saving money as a college student. College as a whole is very expensive, but we all know that. From registering for classes, to textbooks, to meal plans, to social activities – it all adds up. Follow these tips to save money any and everywhere possible at school this semester:

School Supplies and Textbooks

The older you get, the fewer school supplies you really need. When shopping for school supplies this year, take a second to really think about what you will use and if an item is really needed before throwing it in the cart. Of course, you will need pens and pencils, but think of ways you can avoid purchasing unneeded items. For example, class notes can be taken on your laptop – so there is no need to purchase a notebook for every class. If you do find yourself needing certain supplies, check out the local Dollar Store for some cheaper finds.

Textbooks are one of the largest costs for college students. Your school bookstore should have a list of required textbooks for your classes. Before purchasing the books new from the school, see if there is an option to rent the book or buy it used or online for cheaper. You should also reach out to your friends or fellow classmates to see who has taken that course that might still have the book laying around. After the semester is over, and you know that you will not use a textbook anymore, sell it! While you will probably not make all of your money back, you will at least get a little something for a book that you will not use again.

Limit your Weekend Spending

Socializing and meeting new people is one of the best parts of going to college, so do not limit your experiences just to save a couple bucks. Instead of staying home every weekend, find ways to fit those weekend activities into your budget. Maybe it is going out only one night a weekend, cooking meals at home or eating on-campus, or just hanging out and doing free or cheap things around your college town. Cutting back on your spending wherever possible will allow you to be able to afford those more expensive college experiences later on.

You should also take advantage of the free, on-campus activities that your college will be hosting almost every day, These are great opportunities to meet people from around the school as well.

Ditch your Car

Is a car really needed for your college experience? I would strongly consider leaving your car at home for the semester, especially if you live on campus. Gas, insurance, maintenance, and parking passes – the car expenses never stop adding up. Cutting these charges from your monthly budget will free up a good chunk of change that any college student could definitely use elsewhere.

There are plenty of options for getting around a college town without your car. Most campuses will have everything you need within walking distance, or you could check out getting a bike. If your destination is not within walking (or biking) distance, you could take advantage of ride share services such as Uber or Lyft, public transportation, or there is a good chance that a friend has a car at school and would be willing to give you a ride.

Take Advantage of On-Campus Dining

On-Campus dining halls might not have the best reputation, but taking advantage of your school’s meal plans can save you a lot of money in the long run. Signing up for a meal plan is typically charged to your tuition and can be paid for with your student loans and scholarships. Not only can on-campus dining save you money and keep you from eating out, but it is also very convenient for those that live on campus or have limited time to eat between classes. If you are not a fan of your campus dining options, try getting into the habit of cooking at home. These meals are not only cheaper, but usually healthier as well.

Do not let the stress of money hinder your college experience. Be smart with your purchases and really think about where you can save money. Whether you buy used textbooks, limit your weekend activities, leave the car at home, or eat at the dining hall – every little bit saved adds up and can be used for bigger and better things to make your college experience what it should be.
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About the Author
Professional Picture of Kat Hnatyshyn
Kat Hnatyshyn

Indirect Lending Program Director

Kat Hnatyshyn currently serves as the Indirect Lending Program Director at CommunityAmerica Credit Union, overseeing the program and our partnership with approximately 160 auto and Harley Davidson dealerships throughout the Kansas City metro. This partnership gives CommunityAmerica members a smooth auto buying experience by allowing them to finance their vehicle through us, directly from the dealership.