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How to save money as a college student

Updated on November 4, 2012

Heading out to college!

So time has come, you got your acceptance letter and you are headed out to university. Living on your own can be a challenge by itself, saving money while you are at it is a whole different ball game. Saving money as a university student can be a seemingly daunting task however all it requires is some planning and a little bit of determination. Being a new university student myself i'm going to share with you few a tips and tricks that I use to save a few dollars here and there.

I have attached links to the amazon products I talk about in this lens,

so do make sure to check them out at the bottom of this page!!

Share your space

First and most obvious is to share your space with someone else. This will instantly cut your rent in half, you might have a higher utility bill however you will end up paying a lot less comparatively than if you stay by yourself and double that amount.

Learn how to cook

This is important because while campus food and fast food is easy to obtain, and it seems like such a ritual to get up every morning and make your own lunch, it is a HUGE money saver. It's best to take a few hours out every weekend, make enough food to last you the week and then just put it in your fridge or freezer depending on how long it will last you. This will also save you time in the long run as you wouldn't have to make runs to the cafeteria in between classes. Buy a simple college recipe book or ask your parents or relatives on easy, simple and cheap meals that are filling and easy to store. Another way to find simple recipes is to do a quick search online, keep a recipe book and collaborate a shopping list with it so you know exactly what you are cooking and what you need to buy.


Invest in a home water filter. Companies such as pur and Brita have made it very easy to just plug in the filter, and you instantly have filtered water at home. This will save you money and time on buying water. An average college student, doesn't have a car so it's hard to carry a big 5 gallon bottle of water to your apartment every time. A Pur water filter is about $20, it comes with a filter and a 30 day money back guarantee. The filters run about $10 if you buy a 3 pack. Each filter should last you about 1-2 months, which is about 40 gallons. Depending on the weather conditions your water intake will vary. I reside in Texas where 3 digit temperatures are very normal, so I go through about a gallon a day, which runs about 25 cents a gallon. Brita is a little cheaper and offers more value atleast when bought online. The filter itself is around $28-$29, it comes with a filter, the replacement filters come in a box of 10 for around $50 with shipping, this cuts your water bill to 12.5 cents a gallon. Want to be more frugal and save money on filters? Invest in a big bottle of water, the reusable ones. Everyday When you head back from college, fill it up. This is more than enough water for you to last you until you go back to uni. On weekends you have your filter for fresh filtered water.

I have attached links to the amazon products I talk about in this lens so do make sure to check them out at the bottom of this page


Save on electricity, invest in a box fan or a regular fan. If you are lucky to have a ceiling fan in your apartment or dorm room, that's much better. Sacrifice a little now, when you have your degree you can live as comfortably as you want. Another way to save electricity is to stay on campus. This will not only save you money on your electricity bill, but you will also have nothing to do but your school work which means better grades!

Buy Used...

...ALWAYS. Be it furniture, cooking utensils, forks knives, anything. Look around for garage sales when you first move in. If you are studying in the states, visit the local goodwill store for these things. This is way cheaper than buying something brand new. You won't be keeping this furniture for ever. Don't get hung up on matching colors, it really doesn't matter if it serves the purpose.

It took me a whole day but I bought a sandwich press, a small iron board, 2 recliners, 2 chairs, a table for dinner and work, and a small shelf for 46 dollars. All I need now is a bed a microwave and some hangers. Which if I find the right price, my total will be a whopping 150 bucks. Compare that to a brand new bedroom set you can get for 200 dollars...That doesn't even include the bed or mattress.

Tip: Check out places like Freecycle and Craigslist. You might just get a great deal and pay absolutely nothing!


Most colleges students have smartphones. Instead of buying Internet, tether it if it's possible. If you don't know what tethering is click on the links below to get a better understanding and how to do it. Unless your major requires excessive computer usage with fast downloading capabilities, or you happen to have a very Internet based class/major, then go for it, other then that don't buy an Internet service. If you have to use a better connection for school, go to the university and use their Internet. Still not floating your boat? Ask your neighbor or roommate to split the bill with you, chances are if they are in college already they must already have an ISP. Ask them if you can use it if you both can split the bill. Be humble and nice when asking. If they are still thinking about it, let them know you are okay if they have to contact you and tell you to stop using the Internet for a while if they have something very important to do.

Tip: In some cases it's actually cheaper to buy an internet plan than pay for the tethering on your phone so do make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck

What is Tethering?

Blackberry users over here

Android users

Iphone users over here Sorry guys but you are going to have to jailbreak your phone if you already haven't to be able to tether for free. Instruction on jailbreaking are included in the same link.

Buy a Bicycle

If you live fairly close to campus, ditch the car and get a bicycle, (again buy it used) this is a much healthier option for you and much much cheaper. Just be careful of where you ride your bike so you don't have to deal with flat tires. If you don't want to deal with flat tires you can also invest in getting a tire called No mor flats by Bell Sports, It's essentially an inner tube rather than a tire. Prices vary from $20-$28, a flat tire change can cost $10 easily, this will save you money in the long run. If you decide not to go that route, invest in a pump and some tools, you will need them.

If you have a tablet

If you have a tablet then make full use of it. Take notes on your tablet if your instructor permits. If they make a fuss about it, tell them you like to produce less trash. It might seem daunting and will take some time getting used to. Use it to record lectures, take pictures instead of sitting there and copying the slides your professor uses, buy e-textbooks instead of hard copies. These are cheaper, greener and easier to share.

Study hard!

Stay busy, there is nothing more expensive than a college student that doesn't study hard. Your mind will wander, you will want to do this that and this. Stay focused on what you are in college for. This doesn't mean you don't partake in the occasional party, social, adventure sport, but don't go over board every night or every weekend. Your bills will rack up very soon and you will have to pay for them.

Think before you spend...

Lastly think hard before you pull your wallet out and spend that cash. Small expenses here and there might not seem like much, but if they are unnecessary they will build up over time. Will a quick trip back home save you from spending 6 dollars on a meal when you already have cooked food at home? Do this twice a week for one month, thats almost $50 dollars you saved yourself.

Take your pick

These are all the products I talk about in this lens, the prices may vary as to where you are getting it shipped etc. I know pur has some bad reviews on amazon but personally I have been using pur for abour 3 years now, I have had the same filter and never had a problem with it back home, so it was only natural for me to buy another on for my apartment in university.


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