Savings Hacks for New College Students

College is expensive, yo.

It keeps getting more expensive every single year, too. Thanks to the fact that administrators have $200,000 salaries and the fact that textbook companies have a monopoly on their wares, the school has gotten increasingly pricey for everyone—even those with a full ride.

As much as I want to tear into college, I am not here to do that. It’ll be another article, most likely. Since colleges do not seem to care about living expenses for students, I’m here to help those who are in college help save money for bills by the end of the month.

Speaking as someone who acts a lot like a college kid, these tips have helped me save tons of money without having to worry about spending too much time on it.

One of the best saving hacks for college students is to use an app that automatically does it for them

Back in my day, we didn’t have apps that allowed us to automatically save up cash.

Apps like Qapital now exist, and they work by rounding up every purchase that you make and saving the extra. Qapital also offers you the chance to make rules based on your spending, which means that your savings can grow as quickly or as slowly as you want them to. Intuit-launch

Also, use apps that give you cash back on purchases to save money when you’re at the grocery store

I’m not going to be the old fogey who tells you that you’re "broke because you eat avocado toast." Rather, I’m going to tell you that using apps like Ibotta and Swagbucks will give you cash back on that avocado toast, and that avocado toast is well-worth it.

Don’t get addicted to the stupid stuff

This is one of the biggest mistakes I made while I was in college. I became (literally) addicted to energy drinks. I can’t go a single day without having at least two today. With two energy drinks costing about $5 per day, you’re looking at $1,825 in money wasted every year.

Honestly, I spend more than that, probably.
Photo by Dmitri Popov / Unsplash

Your vice can be anything from absurdly fancy coffee to energy drinks. Whatever your vice is, quit it. This is one of the best money-saving hacks for college students or full-grown adults out there, even if it is "easier said than done."

Always ask if there’s a student discount

It seems so simple, right? You’d be surprised at how quickly people forget to do this. Depending on what kind of service or good you’re trying to buy, this can save you as much as $200 or more.

Don’t let credit card debt pile up

Yes, we all have heard Peter Griffin sing that catchy song about credit card debt on Family Guy, but don’t let the tune fool you. Credit card debt is a killer, and if you get too much of it, it will end up keeping you in debt for the rest of your life. Pay off the balance of your cards every month, and you’ll be happier for it. A lock in front of an American Express Business credit card.
Photo by Ryan Born / Unsplash

Hang out with the people who are hellbent on going somewhere in life—or at the very least, the people who are willing to help you out

You’re probably wondering what this is doing on a list of money-saving hacks for college students, right? Well, I’ll explain. My college life was a lonely one. My "friends" constantly borrowed money, or worse, encouraged me to make terrible decisions to keep them around. It was a toxic lifestyle, to say the least.
Photo by Tyler Nix / Unsplash

When I finally dropped out and made connections in the underground music scene, I was broke. Looking back, I should have looked for friends who were going places and were smart with money. Instead, my college life was filled with total losers and it was only the music scene that ended up saving me. Make no mistake about it, who you befriend will make an impact on your savings account.

Don’t be afraid to go to that one wild party you want to go to or take that trip

Speaking as a party animal, this might not seem like a money-saving hack, but it totally is. When you get older, you’ll have a harder time backing away from all the responsibilities you have. That means missed wages, hiring a sitter, and more. It’ll be cheaper to party it up now than it will be later—and you’ll also get amazing memories from it.

If you’re very low-income or have a serious problem in your life, ask for help

Though you should never assume Uncle Sam will help you out, our government has a huge array of programs for younger adults who need help getting on their feet. Whether it’s free therapy, job seeking assistance, or even electricity bill reduction, asking social services or looking up government assistance programs for college students online an make a huge difference.

Learn to say no to people

You know how you have that one friend who always borrows stuff and never returns it, or have that one friend who insists on a fancy restaurant no one can afford? Yeah, learn to say no to them or tell them "not until you pay me back from last time." You’ll save money and time wasted on these vultures in no time.

Buy used textbooks or rent them

Textbook companies are bloated with profit and love to jack up the prices on their goods, knowing college students need them. Don’t worry, you can fight back. Apps like Bookscouter exist to help college students save money on textbooks. As long as you avoid the college bookstore, you’re probably getting a better deal than what the book companies would want you to get.
Pile of green, blue, gray, red leather notebooks, Cambridge
Photo by Hope House Press / Unsplash

If you’re a backpack person, splurge on the pricey leather bag that’s well-made

Backpacks are expensive, aren’t they? Ever since my middle school backpacks kept falling apart at the seams, I swore off those stupid Jansport bags and started using leather backpacks made for harsh travel. I still have my college bag, 12 years later. It still hasn’t torn. This may not seem like a great money hack for college students, but trust me, those bags do add up.

Get a side gig that works with your schedule and use that to bolster your savings

This is one of the best savings hacks out there, primarily because it can be a fun gig, too! If you’re crafty or a good entertainer, you can use your hobby as a side gig. No matter what you choose, though, you should put that extra money into savings.

Don’t stop looking up good ways to save money

There’s always a new way to trim the fat off your spending. If you aren’t sure how much further you can go, keep looking online for more answers. Savings hacks exist for just about every aspect of life out there!