9 Smart College Saving Skills To Change Your Life

Last Updated on May 18, 2021 by David Shaw

saving money

Saving money in college is a good start to achieve financial independence. If you’re willing to start saving money now, here are 9 helpful tips to help you get started.

Saving money can be easy if you stick to few solid plans.

Start by keeping track of your monthly expenses, from here you can start evaluating what monthly investment can be reduced, removed, or adjusted according to its necessity. Planning ahead before spending your expenses can help formulate wiser alternatives to spend and save more money by avoiding unnecessary investments.

Starting with just a few easy factors to keep in mind, there are simple ways you can start to save a significant amount of money. Here are 9 strategic plans to help you maximize every dollar you can save starting even in college.

Start With Spare Changes

coin jar

Don’t underestimate the power of small changes. This can the perfect place to start because the end results will almost certainly shock you. Next time you shop for groceries, use cash instead of credit cards. Remember, you can only get loose change from using cash, but nothing if you’re using credit cards. Credit cards are big business for banks because of this very reason, and now you know why banks convince you into using cards by making card payments more convenient.

The best thing you can do is not fall for this simple financial trap scheme, using cash can still be better than using cards. Keep loose changes in a jar where you can monitor its progress, you won’t be using them to buy groceries anyway. By the time the jar is full, you’ll be surprised how much you have saved so effortlessly. Let time do the work.

Hint: To maximize the number of coins you can collect psychologically, separately collect the dime, nickel, and quarters in 3 different containers.

Try #Project5 Challenge

Every time you stumble across a 5 dollar note, make it a habit to keep it in your piggy bank or somewhere you won’t regularly access. Instead of a glass jar, the anonymity behind the amount you saved from dollar notes will often be extremely rewarding upon discovery.

Here’s a table for a realistic expectation throughout 3 months of my challenge from September 2020:

WeeksTotal (Cumulative)WeeksTotal (Cumulative)
Week 115$Week 7125$
Week 225$Week 8 (Month 2)140$
Week 345$Week 9170$
Week 4 (Month 1)70$Week 10190$
Week 595$Week 11200$
Week 6105$Week 12 (Month 3)220$

This was the exact method I used to save up for the 2018 iPad Pro guilt-free. It felt superb to buy myself a good piece of gadget just by saving smart. I saved from mid-2017 and saved enough to buy myself the iPad by December 2018. The math averages out to under $39 per month through 18 months, which is not a hard thing to do if you think about it. If you think of it from another perspective, that’s just mere effort saving less than $2 per day to easily buy yourself a gift around the range of $800-1000.

Maximize Your Student Benefits

There are many non-obvious benefits you are involuntarily subjected to as a student, which is why the below details will interest you.

If you think about the volume of students at any given time at any given place, the numbers are mostly high. Expect a handful of businesses to offer special deals for students considering the volume of students there is out there. Smart business owners or models will always think of ways to target the student market by offering special deals.

Food Pantry or Grocery Vouchers

Your college or university will most likely have a food pantry program or grocery vouchers for students. If any of those terms sound familiar to you, those are free! Different universities have different styles of food pantry programs to offer you all kinds of food, which is typically sufficient enough to provide you weeks of food supplies at the very least. Don’t even think twice to reach out to these services if you genuinely want to save on food expenses.

Student offers

Retail chain stores. Your favorite brands from Adidas, Abercrombie to Levi’s Jeans. By simply signing up with UNiDAYS, an online discount platform made for students. How to quality? Just put in your student email and you’re set in no time. Offers vary widely across products not only in Fashion but also, Beauty, Food, Lifestyle, Tech like Apple services to Electronic Gadgets like Samsung, Dell, HP and more.

You .edu email address

There are more benefits you can reap out of your .edu email addresses than you probably imagine. Here are my favorite lists of and names you start with: Amazon and Apple. These are big names to begin with, and you might think what good deals up do these money-making companies have up their sleeves?

  • Apple offers 15% discount for their Mac and Ipad lineups for all students with a ‘.edu’ email address, sometimes adding a free $200 Beats Headphones to your cart upon your purchase.
  • Amazon offers anyone with .edu emails 6-months of free Amazon Prime account which enables you to watch, stream all their Amazon Prime services for free. Best of all, free delivery for all items! How crazy is that? The next time you get your hands on a new .edu email address, you know what’s the first thing to.

These examples are just to name a few, there are undoubtedly plenty more student offers you can get from big brands with your ‘.edu’ email address.

Home Cook Your Meals

This was my secret to leaving my friend scratching their heads after discovering about my low monthly expenses.

Often the case, eating out is commonly the primary source of your bank breaker and it shouldn’t sound surprising at all. Learning to cook is not hard at all, making edible or good food only takes a couple of failures and you will master your favorite dish in no time.

Saying you can’t cook is the same as stating the fact you can’t learn any other basic life skills, nobody instructed you to outperform Michelin dishes or chefs. Hit your local Target or TJ MAX to get the best budget non-stick pan now!

  • Bulk Prep Your Meals

If you think cooking is time-consuming, then bulk prepping meals is for you! It is the best and important skill for students to want to both eat healthy and cheap, where each full meal can be easily made under 3.5$ which help save you a ton of money.

Preference Of MealCost per Meal (USD)Time Needed Calories(kcal)Volume(S,M,L)
Bulk Prep for 10 Meals2-5$6-10 mins (1.5 Hours/10)300-700Small-Large
Daily home cook for 1 Meal3-7$10-20 mins400-1000Small-Large
Subway/Sandwich5-10$10 mins300-800Medium-Large
Burger and Fries7-15$10 mins800-1200Medium-Large
Homemade Salad3-5$15 mins400-700Medium
2 Protein Bars3-8$5 mins500-800Small-Medium
Burritos6-10$10 mins600-1000Medium-Large
3 Pizza Slices10-12$5 mins600-1200Medium-Large

From a simple table chart, bulk prepping your meal outranks the common choices among college students in terms of its price, the time needed, and calories. Keep them in ready-to-go containers to minimize time to prepare food.

meal prep

Bulk prepping your meals naturally lets you lean towards using cheap and nutritious ingredients, thus the low cost of this method. A helpful tip is to choose weekends to bulk prep when you’re less tight on homework schedules. Next time, anytime you’re ready to eat, pop your ready-made meals in the microwave for 1 minute and you’re ready to go.

Never buy school text-books

Ever since I understood the sketchy textbook industry years ago, I realize it is nothing short of a big scam. Ever wondered why there are so many editions to your Calculus or Chemistry textbook? Simple, it’s just because they want your money and nothing else.

Instead, look for free electronic textbooks (e-Textbooks) or rent them for cheap at online learning platforms which you can easily do so. This can potentially help you save over $1000 a year which might not sound surprising at all. We recommend a few from names like OpenStax, Open Textbook Library, Bookboon, Saylor, and more.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Rent Textbooks On Chegg (E-books and Textbooks)

Chegg is an online homework platform that allows you to rent e-Textbooks for most textbooks at around 13$/month, while they also rent physical textbooks that they courier to you (~30-50$ for 3 months).

chegg subscription

We highly recommend just renting the e-Textbook for the best convenience. With an additional 14.95$ monthly Chegg Study subscription, you get to have access to step-by-step textbook solutions for 9,000 books, ask homework-related questions 24/7 from experts and enthusiasts as well as millions of homework answers provided by experts in the subject from STEM to any majors to you can think of.

  • Use OpenStax For Free Online Textbooks

OpenStax.org is a nonprofit educational technology by Rice University. Since 2012, OpenStax has created peer-reviewed, openly licensed textbooks, which are available in free digital formats and for a low cost in print.

You can expect to find an adequate amount of information for many textbook subjects presented to you in their own format. It is one of the best free textbook platforms with adequate information and infographics on subjects you wish to learn. Paired with another free online homework tool like Slader, you can easily attend your classes basically textbooks free if you feel the information from OpenStax serves you well.

Don’t expect any vast changes or incompatibility of textbook editions even if your professor tells you to get the latest $120 textbook edition. They don’t care about how much you have to spend on textbooks anyways, next thing, you will only use it for 6 months or so and let it collect dust. If you don’t mind investing some money for convenience and assistance in good homework services, Chegg is your to-go at reasonable rates for students and remains our top suggestion.

Use Cheaper Digital Entertainment Services

Want to stream or listen to your favorite movies and music for free? The good news is that you don’t have to subscribe to digital services to do so. Many other platforms and websites offer them for free, if you don’t mind doing the extra mile, you can always find them yourselves from internet sources for free.

Here are a few of our suggestions:

– Amazon Music For Students

There are plenty of music streaming services out there, Amazon Music offers only 0.99$ for students per month for their music streaming service. Offering over 70 million songs with high audio quality, it is the cheapest deal in the competitive market right now. When pairing this service with its Echo Dot, it comes in handy as another source of entertainment at your convenience.

– Apple Music For Student

Apple Music for students is offered at 4.99$/month compared to other competitions. We highly recommend Apple Music for students currently using Apple devices like iPhone or iPad as is very compatible with iOS’s built-in Music app to keep your playlists very easily accessible and compatible across multiple devices and platforms.

– Spotify Premium Student

Spotify Premium Student is on our recommended mentions because it comes with Hulu, Spotify Premium, and SHOWTIME after your 1-month free trial. To us, that sounds like killing 2 birds with 1 stone if you like both music and movies at cheaper subscriptions.

– Amazon Prime Video

Amazon has a huge array of services apart from its Amazon Prime subscription. If you are a huge movie fan, Amazon Prime Video comes at only 5.99$ if you don’t have an Amazon Prime subscription. It has ‘Download and Go’ features that let you download ahead and watch movies offline which can be pretty handy. However, if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, Amazon Prime Video is free for all its patrons!

Shop Only During Sales

There is probably nothing you will ever need to hit the checkout button immediately. Instead, always shop online or in stores during a sale. Sales are a seasonal thing, they literally happen all year long all the time. So next time you want the jacket you eyed in Uniqlo so bad, just wait for a sale before you buy them at full retail price.

Notable shopping festivals with sales to keep in mind:

  • Black Friday Sales (Mostly all products, Electronics)
  • Seasonal Change Sales (Apparels)
  • Christmas Sales (Apparels, Food, Accessories)
  • 11th November Sales (11/11 Sales) (Mostly all products)
  • Cyber Monday (Monday after Thanksgiving) (Electronics/ E-Commerce)
  • Saturday before SuperBowl (Shop TVs, Electronics and Food)
  • Generally weekends before big Holidays (Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, 4th July, etc)

Join Fellowship Events

Fellowship events do all the wonders students all love, that is good company and good food. If you haven’t already known, fellowship events are specifically tailored for students! Almost all campus or youth fellowships you find will cater your food and wellbeing for free in exchange for merely your participation.

Don’t think of this approach only for free meals, take into account the people and peers you will meet and network from here. If you feel like certain fellowship groups aren’t fit for you, there are plenty more out there waiting for you. Use this as a good opportunity to increase your social circle, as well as save your one of your evening hassle preparing for food and unproductive activities.

Do Volunteer Work

food drive volunteer

This might come across as more of a passive approach to saving money. By doing volunteer work, you will be exposed to adults who are willing to lighten your financial spendings. By meeting people in volunteer work, they will undoubtedly offer food for your work and even freebies from furniture or basics supplies you might need in your dorm.

I’ve personally come across many kind elderly individuals who are more than willing to offer a meal or gadgets like a bicycle, table, or furniture they no longer need for free through doing volunteer work together. Don’t feel like your petty for accepting gifts, these are genuinely kind people who are willing to help or award you for your volunteer contribution, not because you’re a demanding teenager.

My best reward I stumbled upon was getting internship offers by individuals I do volunteer work with which served as a good side income. This method can lead to many places if you stay humble and do things right, if you haven’t tried this I highly recommend you to do so. Treat this as a challenge to step out of your comfort zone to discover many impactful potentials that can potentially steer the course of your future.

Final Take

Starting to save in college can be easy and very rewarding. To start the easiest way, set a goal and try with the easier methods like saving loose changes. When we start to see an outcome from these easy saving tricks, it can serve as motivation and willpower to enable us to save smartly to reduce any unnecessary expenses carelessly. Do your part well, because every penny you save can help lighten your loan or parent’s financial burden quicker!

David Shaw

I graduated college with a Computer Science degree and enjoy blogging about the college experience as a hobby. I like spending time learning about the latest happenings in the tech and entrepreneurship world. With my prior experiences and knowledge, I hope my college lifestyle brings help to people

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