College Life

Budgeting for College Students: 35 Tips

Being a college student usually means living and surviving on a dime. Some of you may be pretty good at pinching your pennies and staying on budget, while others take out student loans and get themselves further into debt. If you’re like me, it may be hard to resist that latest Apple product, or a nice dinner at Texas de Brazil. Either way, all of us could use some additional advice and ideas on stretching our dollar just a bit further. Remember the old expression, “A penny saved is a penny earned!”

Check out these ideas on ways to save money:


  1. Learn how to cook your own meals, it’s healthier and you’ll save money.
  2. Bring your own snacks/water to class instead of buying them on campus. Stay away from vending machines.
  3. Bring your own lunch to school. If you do it right, you can absolutely make it a healthier lunch than picking up McDonalds.
  4. Eat Ramen Noodles.
  5. Don’t get soda when you go out to eat.
  6. Don’t go to expensive coffee chains.
  7. Buy food in bulk. Get a Costco card and get bulk discounts.
  8. Hit up all events on campus that offer free food for attending. Follow those “Free Pizza” signs!


  1. Shop at Walmart, Dollar Stores, and thrift stores.
  2. Shop at garage sales on the weekends for any household items you may need.
  3. Buy generic brand items.


  1. Buy a tablet.
  2. Buy used textbooks.
  3. Buy textbooks online. Maybe even consider buying the e-book version of the textbook.
  4. Sell back your textbooks.


  1. If you don’t already own a car, use public transportation.
  2. If you have to get consider that hey are a huge expense and cost a lot in insurance and gas.
  3. Ride your bike. Except for commuter students, no one needs a car on campus for daily use.




  1. Instead of hitting the clubs, try and find house parties.
  2. Keep an eye out for free activities on campus. Most college campuses have free entertainment on select nights. For example: CBT Technology Institute has LANBASH events, Student Appreciation Week, Career Fairs and more.
  3. Borrow movies from the public library. The library has a large collection of movies for people to check out.


  1. Fill out the FAFSA every year.
  2. Do not use student loans for anything that is not school related. It’s tempting to rack up your credit and loans, knowing you’ll eventually pay it back. However, you have no idea how the economy will look when you graduate and you don’t want to be in massive debt while job searching.
  3. Apply for financial aid early.
  4. Get good grades so you qualify for certain (typically merit-based) grants and scholarships.
  5. Research scholarships. That means taking a look at lots of websites, contacting admissions, financial aid, and faculty to see what’s available. Use every resource you have to get the big scholarships while keeping your eyes open for smaller, but still substantial. Look for scholarships in the area of your major. Most professional organizations will have scholarships to encourage students to stay in that field.
  6. Take advantage of student services. There are plenty of free programs that assist you while going to school. From health care to transportation, there are many different ways to save money. Ask your student services rep to help you find those things.
  7. Take advantage of things that are already paid for, such library services.


  1. Only buy what you need. Don’t buy on impulse.
  2. Don’t get a credit card. It’s not necessary and you’ll end up paying a high interest rate.
  3. If you do decide to keep a credit card on hand, pay for things with cash as much as you can. Don’t run up credit card bills for trivial things.
  4. Open up a savings account that earns interest.
  5. Keep track of everything you spend. It really helps to know what you have coming in and going out.
  6. Take advantage of student discounts.


Fernando Larez

Fernando is an entrepreneur, technologist and proud dad. He is an author at the Beat.

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