13 Ways to Save Money in College

We all know that college is a time when you’re supposed to study, find yourself, and lay the groundwork for your future. But what most people don’t realize is that it’s also a time when you should start working on your money habits.

Here are 13 ways to save money in college that will help you have a healthier financial future.

Get creative about where you earn your credit hours.

As tuition costs continue to rise, many students and their families are looking for ways to save on the cost of education. One often overlooked option is attending community college.

So what’s the difference in tuition prices between these different types of schools? Let’s take a closer look.

Community colleges are often the most affordable option, with an average tuition of just $3,347 per year. Community colleges are typically much cheaper than private or state universities because they receive subsidies from state and local governments. This means that their tuition prices are often lower than other schools.

In addition to lower tuition rates, community colleges offer many other benefits that make them an excellent option. For example, community colleges typically have smaller class sizes than four-year institutions, so students get more individualized attention from their professors. Additionally, community colleges often offer more flexible schedules, which can be helpful for students who are working

If you’re looking at private universities like Harvard or Yale, you’ll pay an average annual tuition of $43,780. And for state universities, the average tuition is $9,410 per year.

How to save on tuition

Get a part-time job: This is a great way to earn extra cash to help cover college costs.

Apply for scholarships and grants: Many financial aid sources are available to help you pay for college.

Live at home: Living with your parents can save on housing and other expenses.

Take advantage of student discounts.

Many businesses offer discounts to students. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Apple – Students can save on Mac or iPad, get 20% off AppleCare, and even receive a gift card up to $150.
  • Best Buy – Students can save 10% on select items year-round.
  • J.Crew – Students can enjoy a 15% discount on their purchase.
  • Macy’s – Students can take advantage of a 10% discount on select items.
  • Nike – Students can save 10% on their purchase.
  • Old Navy – Students can enjoy a 10% discount on their purchase.
  • Target – Students can save 5% on their purchase.
  • The Limited – Students can enjoy a 15% discount on their purchase.
  • Banana Republic – Students can enjoy a 15% discount on their purchase.
  • H&M – Students can enjoy a 20% discount on select items.

But don’t overlook local businesses. Coffee shops, restaurants, and bars have been known to offer student discounts.

Here are a few tips on how to ask for a student discount:

  • Be confident. When you ask for a student discount, being confident is important. The person behind the counter is more likely to give you a discount if they think you’re serious about it.
  • Have your ID ready. Make sure you have your student ID ready to show the person when you ask for a discount. Most places will require proof that you’re a student before they give you the deal.
  • Be polite. When you ask for a student discount, always remember to be polite. The person behind the counter is more likely to give you a discount if they think you’re being courteous and respectful.
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle. If the employee says no to your request for a student discount, don’t be scared to haggle. They may be willing to give you a discount if you negotiate.

Use public transportation:

Taking the bus or train instead of driving your car can save a lot of money on gas and parking fees. Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding a place to park your vehicle on campus.

Manage your textbook expenses

Textbooks are one of the most significant expenses you’ll have to deal with, so finding ways to pay less for them is important. Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Check with your professor before buying anything. Professors often assign readings that are available for free online or in the library.
  • Compare prices between different bookstores before buying. You may be able to find a better deal online or at a used bookstore.
  • See if you can buy or rent books from your campus bookstore. This can often be cheaper than buying new books.
  • Borrow books from friends or classmates who have already taken the class.
  • Check to see if your campus has a textbook exchange program. This can be a great way to get cheap or even free books.
Image of a quote from the Nav.it Podcast episode featuring Marc Russell. Text reads In order to pay for school, at a certain point I was cutting hair, refereeing, and donating plasma. Image links to the Nav.it Podcast episode featuring Marc Russell.

Watch budget busters like eating out

One area where you can cut back is on food. Here are some tips on how to save money on food in college:

  • Skip the dining hall meals and cook your own food. It’s cheaper, and you can control what goes into your meals.
  • Make a budget and stick to it. Determine how much you can afford to spend on food each week, and then ensure you don’t exceed that amount.
  • Purchase groceries in bulk. This can help you save money because you’ll get more for your money.
  • Eat out only occasionally. It’s fine to treat yourself to a meal out now and then, but don’t make it a habit.
  • Bring your own food with you when you go out. This way, you won’t be tempted to spend money on expensive snacks or meals.
  • Attend free events. Many student associations or the student union will host events with free food to recruit members.
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Avoid unnecessary expenses

You know those things that you think you need but don’t? We like to call them “unnecessary expenses.” And trust us, college students are no stranger to spending money on things they don’t need.

From overpriced textbooks to late-night pizza delivery, it’s easy to let your spending get out of control. But don’t worry; we’re here to help you avoid those unnecessary expenses.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid spending money on things you don’t need in college:

  • Avoid convenience fees. We know, we know. Pizza is delicious. But do you really need to spend $20 on a single pie? Instead, make your own pizza or order from a local place with free pick-up.
  • Avoid buying things you don’t need. It’s easy to get caught up in trends but resist the urge to buy something you don’t need. For example, do you really need that new outfit for your friend’s party? Probably not.

Make a spending plan and stick to it.

If you’re like most college students, you probably don’t have a lot of money to spare. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from creating and sticking to a spending plan. In fact, a budget can be a great way to help you save money in college.

Here’s how it works: when you know exactly where your money is going, you can make better decisions about how to spend it. That means you’re less likely to waste money on things you don’t really need.

Plus, when you have a spending plan, you can ensure you’re always prepared for unexpected expenses. So if your car breaks down or you need to buy a last-minute plane ticket home, you won’t have to worry about how you’ll pay for it.

Finally, a budget can help you stay on track with your long-term financial goals. If you’re trying to save up for a down payment on a house or pay off student loans, a budget can help you stay focused and progress towards your goals.

If you need help getting started, there are plenty of resources available to help you out. You can begin by downloading Nav.it or e-mailing a Nav.it money coach.

Having fun without going broke

There’s no need to break the bank to have a good time in college. There are plenty of ways to have fun without spending much money. Here are some great ideas for how to have fun for free in college:

  • Get involved on campus. There are always things happening on college campuses, and many of them are free. From concerts to comedy shows to lectures, there’s usually something that you can enjoy for free. Check your college’s website or events calendar to see what’s happening.
  • Go exploring. College campuses are typically located in exciting places with lots to see and do. Take some time to explore your surroundings. Check out the local shops, parks, and attractions. You might be surprised at what you find.
  • Hang out with friends. One of the best parts of college is meeting new people and making friends. Spending time with your friends is a great way to have fun without spending any money. Just hang out, talk, and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Coordinate a game night. Games are a great way to pass the time and have some fun. There are all kinds of games you can play for free, from card games to video games. Gather up some friends and see who will come out on top.
  • Get creative. There are all sorts of ways to be creative without spending any money. Draw, paint, write, or do whatever else you enjoy. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even put on a play or make a movie.
  • Work out. Getting some exercise is not only good for you, but it can also be fun. There are all kinds of free ways to work out, from going for a run to playing sports. You can even find free workout classes at some gyms.

Make your money last longer

Whether you’re benefiting from grants or student loans, another way to save money in college is to find ways to make your money last longer. One way to do this is to get a part-time job. This can help you cover some of your expenses and also give you extra money to put into savings. Another way to make your money last longer is to find ways to save on your housing costs. If you live in a dorm, you may be able to get a cheaper room by sharing with another student.

Practice money mindfulness

Money mindfulness is about being aware of your spending and making sure that your spending aligns with your values. For college students, this can be a tricky thing to do. We’re constantly bombarded with ads and peer pressure to spend money on something we don’t need. But if we take a step back and think about what we value, we can start making better spending decisions.

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Here’s how it works: first, look at your spending habits. Are you buying things that you don’t need? Do you find yourself impulse buying a lot? If so, it’s time to start being more mindful of your money.

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Use the Nav.it money app to schedule worry time, improve your relationship with money, journal and practice mindfulness daily.

Start by tracking your spending for a month. This will help you see where your money is going and what you can cut back on. Once you have a good idea of your spending habits, you can start to make changes.

For example, if you’re spending a lot of money on coffee, try making it at home instead. Or, if you’re eating out a lot, see if you can cook more meals at home. You can make many small changes that will save you money in the long run.

Bonus points for practicing values-based spending

In addition to being mindful of your spending, it’s also necessary to consider your values. What are the things that are important to you? Do you value experiences more than material things?

If so, you might want to start spending your money on experiences like traveling instead of things. Consider swaps like skipping a new shirt to see a movie. Instead of going out to eat, go on a hike with friends.

When you start spending your money according to your values, you’ll be saving money. That’s because you’re not wasting money on things that don’t matter to you.

Understanding your relationship with money can save you.

When it comes to saving money, it’s not just about couponing, sacrificing, or having a budget and sticking to it. It’s also about understanding your relationship with money.

For some people, money is a source of stress and anxiety. They may feel like they’re never able to save enough or are constantly spending more than they can afford. This can lead to a cycle of debt and financial insecurity.

Other people may have a more relaxed attitude towards money. They may be less worried about saving and more concerned with enjoying their life in the present. This doesn’t mean they’re irresponsible with money, but they may not be as focused on long-term savings goals.

Understanding your relationship with money is a crucial part of saving effectively.

Your relationship with money is a lot like your relationship with any other person in your life. It’s complicated, ever-changing, and can be a real source of stress if you don’t understand it.

But like any other relationship, the more you understand your money and how it works, the better off you’ll be. And that’s especially true when it comes to saving in college.

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We’re here to help you break free from the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle and navigate your financial journey, one day at a time. Nav.it At Work gives you the tools to take control of your financial future.


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