Lesser Known Tips to Save Money in College

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College is a fun and eventful time, but you may find that you are short on cash and you have to work hard to save every penny that you do have. We all know about the most popular ways to save money from budgeting to cutting out luxuries, but what about some of the lesser known tips?

In this article, we will cover some of the ways that you can save money while you are in college and all of these ways are ones that most people do not think of. We think that you will benefit greatly from this list.

  1. Buy Generic

woman with shopping bagsWhen you go shopping, you should purchase generic items. Most of the time, the ingredients are the EXACT same and you can even verify this by looking at the packaging on both items. There is a big price difference on some brand name items and generic items. In fact, the only reason you pay more is for the brand name of the company and the packaging to appear on the item.

You may be wondering just how much you can actually save per month. Let’s take a look. (All of these prices are examples and not indicative of the prices at your local store.)


Milk may cost you $4.29 for name brand and $2.89 for a generic brand. If you buy three gallons of milk a month, this will save you $4.20.


Name brand cheese may cost you $4.50 for a one-pound package and a generic brand may cost you $3.33. If you buy two packages of cheese per month, you would save $2.34.


A bag of chips, such as Doritos, may cost you $4.99, while a bag of generic Doritos may cost you $2.00. If you by five bags of chips a month, this would save you $14.95.

It may not seem like a lot, but just from those three items, you would save $21.49 a month buying generic.

  1. Consider Used Clothing

While you may not like the initial idea of it, you will like the savings of it. Instead of purchasing a brand new wardrobe every semester, consider buying used clothes. You will find that many of the used clothing stores will only accept clothes that are in excellent condition, so you do not have to worry about rips, tears, and stains.

Buying used clothes can cost you significantly less and you can even buy double the number of clothes that you would be able to if you purchased new.

  1. Rent a Room or Get a Roommate

Renting an apartment and living off campus may prove to be cheaper than living on campus, but it can still be quite pricey for you on your own.

You do have a couple of options when it comes to your apartment situation. First, you could move in with someone else and rent a room from them. You can often find rooms for rent at about $500 and they will generally include everything such as power, water, and other utilities.


Your second option is to get a roommate for your apartment. If you choose to do this, make sure that you fully interview the person, set ground rules, and establish how much per month your roommate will pay.

  1. Buy Used Textbooks and Sell Old Ones

You can save a lot of money if you purchase used textbooks. It is no secret that school books cost a lot of money and can run you as much as a few hundred dollars per semester. You can typically find that all of or most of your textbooks can be purchased used. You may even be able to rent some of your textbooks as well.

If you have textbooks leftover from the semester before, save them and then sell them back to the bookstore, online, or to other students. This way, not only will you save buying used, you will also earn some money back from your books.

  1. Use Student Discounts

Did you know that you can receive student discounts on many items? In fact, sometimes schools team up with companies to offer special discounts to students.

You can save a lot of money with student discounts, so do not be afraid to ask about them. For example, if your school has teamed up with a computer company, you may be able to receive a percentage off of your purchase or save a set amount of money off of your purchase. This will allow you to get the computer you need without spending too much on it.

  1. Kick Up the Air

Did you know that your electric bill can rise significantly if you use your air all of the time? It is true. Your HVAC system can cost you a lot of money. The best way to save is to crank up the air when you are gone and then turn it down when you are home. You want to keep your home comfortable without spending a ton of money to do so.

You can keep your AC set at 78 and then use ceiling fans or portable fans to help keep the air circulating in your home.

  1. Watch Your College Meal Plans

mealIf you do choose to live on campus, make sure that you do not purchase the most expensive meal plan option there is. Remember, you can always purchase more food if you need it, but you cannot get a refund on food you do not eat.

As you look at the meal plan options, consider how much food you truly need and then choose the appropriate plan.

As you head off to college, you will need to know how to save money and you must do so to survive. If you find that you are running low on cash, try the above methods of saving money and put them into action right away.

The biggest mistake that new college freshmen make when it comes to their money is they do not realize how fast it actually dwindles down.