Struggling to make ends meet in college? Check out this quick and easy guide to saving money, plus learn about a $5000 scholarship by SlickDeals!

12 Ways to Save Money in College

College is the first chance many of us get to live out on our own. That comes with a whole host of new expenses, as well as the stress of financial independence. Many of my friends and I are overwhelmed by expenses, but with the right approach and tips, you can find ways to get by and thrive financially in college!

Slick Deals just opened their new college portal, which will let you know about the best deals and opportunities for college students. Here are 12 other ways to save money in college — make sure to read to the bottom for information about the SlickDeals portal and a great scholarship opportunity!

12. Make a budget and stick to it.

Budgets are an important and useful way to keep track of your money and make sure that you stay on-schedule. I wrote a post about making a budget here, which will help you put your first college budget together. Having a budget like this has been really helpful in making sure I don’t spend more than I can!

11. Use apps like Mint to keep track of finances.

I’ve talked about Mint before because it’s been a real life-saver for me in terms of keeping track of my spending and saving habits. The app will keep track of all your expenses and income, send you weekly reports, and give you alerts if something seems suspicious. Best of all, it’s free!

10. No impulse purchases.

Impulse shopping is one of the easiest ways to burn through your cash, and in hindsight, you often regret the purchase. Make a rule for yourself that you need to consider all purchases for a certain amount of time (like 3 days) before buying.

9. Attend events for free food.

Plenty of on-campus events have free pizza, take-out, or other foods available. Attending these events lets you save on grocery costs, and hey, you just might learn something!

8. Rent!

Rent used textbooks, rather than buying new ones. Also see if you can borrow your textbooks from the library, or if there is a cheaper version floating around online somewhere! If you do buy your textbook, resell it to the bookstore or to Amazon at the end of the semester.

7. Start couponing.

I know that couponing isn’t exactly “cool,” but you know what is cool? Saving 80% of your weekly expenses. After watching Extreme Couponing on Netflix a few years ago (yes, really), I started to try it myself at my local drugstore, and started saving between 50-90% of my costs. I like this beginner guide to couponing, and if you live in the US, the Krazy Coupon Lady has coupons available by store and brand, as does SlickDeals here and here.

6. Understand sales cycles and clearance tags.

Many stores cycle their sales and have specific indicators of whether a price will go down again, which you can figure out if you just know how to read the clearance tags. Here’s an example guide for Target — you can likely find a similar guide for your favorite store through a simple Google search using keywords like “sales cycle,” “clearance tags,” and the name of the store.

5. Go generic.

Almost all products at a major store like CVS or Target will offer a generic version of popular products. Though the difference in cost may look small, the $1.50 difference between generic and on-brand can really add up and make a difference!

4. Cut out monthly expenses.

If you can’t afford a subscription box, your Netflix charges, or similar monthly expenses, the answer is simple — cut them out! Believe it or not, you can actually live without Netflix in college. In fact, your college or local library probably has DVDs of the same films and TV shows available for free!

3. Try on-campus paid opportunities.

Many colleges have paid opportunities like hour-long psychology studies that can pay between $10 and $50 per participants. Check out your college’s online listings, or walk by the psychology department, to see if yours have something similar.

2. Sell your things.

Most colleges have an online forum or Facebook group where you can buy, sell, and trade your things. Whether you’re selling old clothes or your handmade goods, it’s a great way to bring in a few extra dollars each month!

1. Apply for scholarships.

Scholarship money makes a huge difference in helping to pay for college, for everything from tuition to the basic costs of living. There are a lot of great websites to help you find scholarships — this guide by the Department of Education can help get you started!

One new scholarship opportunity that I recently learned about is from SlickDeals. The site, which lets you know about the latest deals on everything from tech to clothing, just launched their new college portal. The portal has a ton of resources that are easy to use and can help you save money, and right now they are giving away two $5,000 scholarships for students attending college in Fall 2016! The due date is April 30th, so apply soon – and if you’re looking for tips to help you write the winning essay, check out Mostly Morgan’s post on just that!

How do you save money in college? Will you be applying for SlickDeals’ scholarship?

This post is sponsored by SlickDeals, but created and written by me. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Sara Laughed possible!

Sara Laughed

Hey hey! I'm Sara, an American writer living in the Netherlands and working as a product manager.

  1. A Mix of Min says:

    Budgeting in college is so important. I have so many friends that maxed out credit cards because they thought that was the ‘college life’ (to each their own, haha). I’m so happy that my business degree and my parents showed me how to budget! Xoxo Mindy

  2. Ashley says:

    Budgeting in college is so important, but can be so hard! These are some great tips for college students, especially incoming freshman! I wish I had read this in college!

  3. I feel like saving money requires so much time and effort (especially things like couponing) – it’s practically a full-time job! Thankfully, my husband takes care of our finances in our house, so I don’t ever have to worry about it! 🙂

    XO, Oksana |

  4. These are awesome tips- I could’ve used these in college! Food was always a large expense for me, as were books. I didn’t even discover renting books until my senior year! Such a great alternative.

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