College life can be full of financial challenges. From tuition fees and textbooks to living expenses and outings with friends, there are many things you need to budget for. If you’re not careful about managing your money, it can create serious stress that will leave you feeling overwhelmed and financially strained.

Learning effective money-saving strategies in college can help you build financial habits that will extend far beyond graduation. To help you, we’ve compiled a list of eight practical ways to save money while you’re in college.

1. Create a Budget–and Stick To It!

It’s a good idea to examine your income and expenses closely. Whether you’re receiving money from a job, scholarships, loans, or even your parents, it’s important to understand how much money is coming in. Then, compare that number to your actual expenses, including rent, bills, groceries, entertainment…anything that costs money.  

Once you’ve identified your income and expenses, you can focus on creating a monthly budget. If you want to save, you’ll have to prioritize your purchases. You can sort them into “needs” and “wants,” with “needs” including only essential expenses like rent and academic materials. Your “wants” should encompass entertainment, tech gadgets, superfluous Amazon purchases, and more. In other words, your “wants” are the items and activities you can live without.

Keeping track of your spending can help you identify where you can cut back in order to save. Sticking to your budget will prevent overspending and give you peace of mind.

2. Choose Affordable Housing

Housing is one of life’s most significant expenses. When determining where to live on a budget, it’s wise to seek out affordable housing near campus. Doing so can cut down on travel costs since you won’t need to drive or take public transit. It also provides access to student housing resources and amenities like gyms, study lounges, complimentary laundry services, and more.

One way to reduce your housing costs is to share your living expenses with roommates. Splitting on utility bills, groceries, and cleaning supplies will save you a lot of money over time. Just make sure you establish a clear agreement with your roommates to avoid any misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict!

3. Use Various Modes of Transportation

Driving is the most convenient way to get around, but owning a car can be expensive due to its associated costs.

Utilizing public transportation options like buses can cut down on commuting costs. At some universities, like BYU-Idaho, student discounts on transportation can help you save even more money. You could also ride a bike instead of driving your car.

If you plan on traveling to a faraway destination, you can carpool with friends and classmates headed in the same direction to make things cheaper.

4. Shop Smart

There are a ton of strategies to help you save money when you shop. Start by using online tools to compare the prices of textbooks, supplies, and other common items that you need for school. Many stores and restaurants offer student discounts, so you should make a point to inquire about deals or specials whenever you go out.

With the inflated cost of groceries, buying food in bulk and meal prepping can save you a lot of money. It’s great if you can take this idea one step further and split the costs of bulk groceries with roommates and friends.

5. Dine Wisely

Frequently dining out costs a lot of money, especially when you factor in travel costs and tipping. Instead, look for affordable dining options on and off campus, especially with places that offer student discounts and lunch deals.

If you want to save money on food, try cooking meals at home instead of eating out regularly. There are many easy recipes for students, and you don’t need amazing cooking skills to feed yourself delicious, healthy meals.

Many universities have dining halls and meal plans available for students. Explore these options, as they could save you time and money whenever you’re on campus. You should also pack snacks from home to keep you full between classes and meals.

6. Find Cheap Entertainment

Entertainment can be expensive, especially if it involves constantly going out. Fortunately, there are plenty of low-cost or free entertainment options to partake in on and off campus. Most universities have an events calendar that you can sift through until you find an activity that interests you.

There are many inexpensive ways to have fun and connect with friends off campus. You can play a sport, hang out around a fire pit, or host a movie night. You just have to get creative and take advantage of the amenities in your complex.

Like certain stores and restaurants, many online companies offer student discounts for cheaper video games, streaming services, books, music, and more.

7. Get a Part-Time Job

Getting a part-time job will help supplement your income, providing you with more money to spend and save. You can find part-time job opportunities on and off campus. Search online and in local publications to see what’s available near you.

If you’ve got marketable skills in areas like art, programming, or writing, you could also consider freelance work. This flexible gig allows you to set your own hours so your job doesn’t interfere with your academic schedule or time with friends.

8. Research Financial Aid

Lastly, don’t forget to take advantage of financial aid opportunities. These might include scholarships, grants, and student loan options. 

Be mindful of the financial aid you have to pay back. Read the terms and conditions carefully to avoid taking on an unreasonable debt. If you need more assistance, consider speaking to financial aid counseling services on campus.

Contact Hillcrest Townhouses

College life will throw many financial challenges your way, but you can still save money if you set your mind to it. Implementing the tips above will help you achieve financial stability in college and the future.

If you’re interested in finding affordable BYU-I-approved housing to help you save money this semester, contact Hillcrest Townhouses today. Our townhouses have both private and shared rooms to accommodate students with various budgets. Come check us out!