10 Ways To Be More Frugal In College

As a college student, it probably feels at times like it is your lot in life to remain perpetually overworked and underpaid. It seems like there's nothing left after you've bought your books for the semester, and the most that you can expect to earn from part-time work is just a few thousand dollars for the entire school year.

You'd like to have a bit of walking around money that you can use when hanging out with your friends, and you might even have bills such as monthly car payments to worry about. The way to ensure that you can have the best possible experience in college isn't by racking up credit card debt – it's by learning to live frugally and stretching the money that you have.

Follow these 10 tips, and you can't go wrong.

1. Eat The Cafeteria Food

At many colleges, cafeteria food is included in the cost for room and board. If you – or your parents – are paying for on-campus housing, that means you're also paying for three cafeteria meals a day. Why would you pay to eat out when there's food available that's already paid for?

When you do eat out with friends, do so on days when it'll really be worth it because you're going to have a great time. Eat at restaurants during happy hour whenever possible; you'll enjoy great discounts on food and drinks.

2. Consider Lower-Cost Living Options

Depending on where you go to school, the dorms might not be the least expensive housing option available to you. Consider renting a group apartment with friends instead. Splitting the rent and utilities among several people can leave you with an extremely small monthly bill. The one potential issue with living in an apartment during college is that the apartments closest to campus may fill up quickly.

You might need to put yourself on a reservation list well before the school year starts. If you can't get an apartment within walking distance of your classes, you might need to commute – and that can add to your monthly expenses. If you decide to try living in an apartment, remember that with sound planning, cooking your own food is always cheaper than eating out.

3. Quit JUULing

We get it; there is nothing quite like a burst of nicotine from a sweet, sweet mango JUUL pod. Your JUUL habit, however, is costing you an incredible amount of money. If you really want to keep money in your bank account, your best bet is to stop using nicotine altogether. If you want to continue vaping, though, do yourself a huge favor and pick up a vape pen with a refillable tank.

Buying bottled e-liquid rather than pre-filled pods can save you hundreds of dollars per month. Marketing executive Alice Foster of UK online vape shop OK Vape says, "We love walking our customers through the process of switching from closed-system to open-system vaping devices. Filling your own tanks means that you can choose from hundreds of different e-liquids rather than the few flavors available for one vaping system."

4. Stop Buying Expensive Coffee

Are you in the habit of grabbing a drink from the local coffee shop every morning? The profit margin on coffee is incredibly high. A $3-a-day coffee habit – if you're buying the cheap stuff, which you probably aren't – works out to hundreds of dollars over the course of the school year.

A kettle and pour-over coffee carafe cost almost nothing in comparison, and you can get the same quality as a coffee shop simply by buying good beans, grinding the beans before brewing and using the right water temperature. Similarly, you're wasting your money if you drink bottled water; buy a water filter pitcher instead.

5. Capitalize On Student Discounts

Across the world, there are innumerable retailers who understand that college students are perpetually short on cash and want your business anyway. Take advantage of that by shopping at the places that offer the best student discounts. Some popular companies offering student discounts include:

  • Adobe
  • Amtrak
  • Apple
  • Banana Republic
  • Dockers
  • GEICO
  • Greyhound
  • J. Crew
  • Lenovo
  • Microsoft
  • Sam's Club

Many of the clothing stores, markets and restaurants – even businesses that are part of chains – near your college campus may offer student discounts. Sometimes, though, the discounts may not be advertised. Don't be nervous about asking.

6. Get Your Clothes From Thrift Shops

If you're on a tight budget and have a flair for style, don't limit your clothing options to what's available at the local malls. Every major college campus has at least one thrift shop or vintage clothing store. At such places, you can find like-new clothes for next to nothing. Macklemore wasn't joking when he wrote "Thrift Shop."

7. Consider A Different School

If you really want to be frugal about your education, you should think seriously about whether attending an expensive university is the right choice for you. If you're the one responsible for paying for your own education, do you really want to spend the next decade after college paying back your student loan – or would you rather finish college free of debt and with a degree in your hand?

Only you can decide which school is right for you. When you begin your career, though, you may find that prospective employers care more about your experience and personal narrative than where you earned your degree.

8. Don't Pay Top Dollar For Books

When you need to buy your books for the semester, the absolute worst thing that you can do is buy your books brand new from the campus bookstore. No matter how well you care for them, your investment will lose its value more quickly than a new BMW. For that matter, don't buy your books on campus at all.

Look for bargains on Amazon and eBay. Consider renting your books rather than buying them.

9. Consider Selling Your Car

When you're in college, owning a car isn't always the best financial decision. If you don't own the car outright, you're making monthly payments on it. If you don't have a car loan, you're still paying for insurance, gas and maintenance. Sure, having a car makes some aspects of your life more convenient. If walking or taking the bus can help you get your student loan paid off more quickly, though, isn't that the better choice?

10. Attend Every Class

College is rife with temptation, and one temptation every student encounters is that of skipping class. At any time of the day, you can find something on campus that seems more fun than attending class. Skipping class, though, is just about the worst thing that you can do with your money. You've already paid your tuition; skipping class is the same as flushing that money down the toilet. Put your education first; you'll still have plenty of time for fun.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

-Having struggled with acne prone skin for years, I was cautious to try a new serum on top of the other products I've come to trust.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Your Social Activism May Actually Benefit From A Cleansing Social Media Detox

In the craziest year of our lives, sometimes there's value in taking a break.

We are living through, unequivocally, one of the most dangerous, unstable, chaotic periods of any of our lives. From COVID-19 to crises of police brutality to the mass exploitation of the poor by mega-corporations, the world outside seems to be looking more dystopic every day. What can be done about it? For many, activism involves heavily posting on social media to keep others aware. However, this comes with a net negative cost — increased levels of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness about the state of the world. Why might this be? After all, in past eras activists have endured comparable and greater levels of abuse and relentless torment from oppressors. Why, now, are people getting so easily burnt out?

Keep Reading... Show less

Reading is a relaxing activity that provides many benefits. Everybody reads books (when they are not watching Netflix, chatting on social media, or making Tik Tok videos) to distract themselves from reality for a while. Many do not realize the positive impact that books have like reducing stress, assisting with sleep, improving cognitively, and strengthening the mind. In honor of National Book Day, there are many great novels that you can read to mark this special holiday. Here are the best ones to check out.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

5 Things You Need To Know Before You Watch 'Arrested Development' On Netflix

"Her?" Yes, she's an amazing show! (You'll get this joke after you watch the show).

Netflix

"Arrested Development" is an award-winning sitcom that aired for three seasons on Fox beginning in 2003, and then was picked up by Netflix for a fourth season in 2013, and then again for a final season in 2018.

However, it seems to remain one of the world's most underrated and under-appreciated shows of all time. Although this article alone won't be enough to skyrocket the show to Netflix's top 10, I hope that it will open people's eyes to the value and quality of the show.

Keep Reading... Show less

I have always felt left out because of how I look and who I am. I have always felt like the elephant in the room, literally. I have always been shamed for my size. For the longest time, I cared so much about what I wear and who I wore certain things in front of. I never wanted to wear shirts that would show a lot of my arm, located above my elbow. I wouldn't wear shorts that didn't go to the tip of my knees, at least. I never wore anything remotely tight, where you could see every curve, roll, or imperfection. I was so insecure about myself, and not many of my friends knew.

Keep Reading... Show less

Being a pharmacy technician never held as many risks as it does now. Exposure too hazardous conditions were little to none, and garbing up was only conducted in IV compounding. But, now, in order to give nurses the medications they need to help their patients, they need us, pharmacy technicians.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

I Asked My Boyfriend His Opinion On Liking Other Girls’ Pictures, And, Spoiler Alert, It's Cheating

"When you get into a relationship and you're in love, you have to realize that liking photos is for the single lifestyle."

Ladies, listen up. If you are in a relationship with a guy and he is liking other girls' pictures on social media, then it's a red flag. A man who can look at someone else and show interest by liking it means he doesn't care about your feelings AT ALL.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Celebrities Stealing Designs From Small Fashion Labels Is NOT A Good Look, And They Need To Pay Up

When larger, more established figures or brands steal from lesser-known independent creators, they are taking opportunities away from these creators while also profiting from someone else's work and claiming it as their own.

Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B recently collaborated on their new single "WAP," with the music video also being released on Friday. Both Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B posted photos of themselves on Instagram to celebrate the premiere of "WAP." An independent designer quickly noticed that the rappers' matching tops were copies of a top she had designed last year.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

When You Have A Disability, Finding A Job Is Twice As Hard, Believe Me, I Know

We have got to create a safer work environment for people with disabilities.

"My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn't prevent you from doing well, and don't regret the things it interferes with. Don't be disabled in spirit as well as physically." – Stephen Hawking

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

7 Books That Are NOT In The Young Adult Genre That Will Change Your Life

Young Adult isn't the only genre that exists, so here are seven books that any book lover wanting to try something new will love.

One of the most popular genres in literature that everyone has read at least one book from is Young Adult fiction. Now, I personally can say that, in the past, I have been one of those people that only read from the YA section of the bookstore.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with just reading one genre, it's good sometimes to venture out of your reading comfort zone into the other book genres of the literary world.

In a previous article, I discussed the importance and power of words. The perfect example of this is literature and its impact on the world. Books have always played a crucial part in human lives, from how we are able to expand our knowledge to how we pass our time.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments