Budget Breakthrough: Saving Money Hacks for Students That Actually Work

You’ve probably heard lots of advice already from your parents, teachers, family, and friends when it involves how you spend your money at college and how to save for the future.

In most cases, these tips seem standard, ranging from skipping the morning latte and making coffee at home to packing for lunches and carpooling.

In addition to setting a budget and minimizing your expenses as much as possible, there are many other ways to save money or avoid spending to make life as a college student fun, affordable, and enjoyable.

City Public Transit and Discount Rates

If you attend college in a large city, you’ll likely have access to a reliable public transit system, which offers student discounts for one-way fares, daily passes, and monthly passes.

Investing in a monthly pass is worthwhile if you plan on using transit daily or often enough, where you’ll save a significant amount of money. If you prefer driving or have access to a car, carpooling and ride-sharing are great alternatives.

If public transit isn’t as available in your area, and you’re looking for an alternative to driving, purchasing an affordable, sturdy, new, or second-hand bicycle from Amazon or local online classifieds like Facebook Marketplace is a great way to keep in shape and save money on transportation to and from school, work, and home.

Avoid Impulse Buying

When you’re at the grocery store, local mall, or window shopping downtown, making an instant purchase is tempting, especially when you notice something appealing on sale.

While some purchases are worthwhile, such as mobile devices, clothing, and household goods, they may be priced higher than expected or may not be necessary right away. Always plan and assess your budget to ensure you have enough funds to pay for one or more items.

This money saving hack will help curb overspending so your finances stay on track.

Shop for Groceries After a Meal

When you go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, you’ll likely buy more items than you need and generally unhealthy groceries, such as potato chips, chocolate bars, and soda.

When you plan ahead and enjoy a meal first, you’ll have a clear idea of what you need to buy instead of what you want. This can cut down on an impulse purchase or two and keep your grocery bill under control. You may also consider buying groceries online to save time and stay on track.

Fresh eggs, fruit, vegetables, and meat or vegetarian options are all great options to consider. Adding a few canned goods, and dried foods, such as trail mix and cereal, is another way to ensure you have a few extra items in your pantry at home without spending a ton of extra cash. If you want to enjoy a few snacks and indulge in your favorite dessert, just ensure it fits your budget!

girl shopping grocery

Dine Out Less Often

It’s easy to grab a coffee, muffin, or wrap on the go, especially when you have a heavy, full-time course load and exams are coming up. The cost of ordering meals, either for take out or delivery, can be very expensive, especially if it becomes a weekly habit.

For this reason, it’s best to limit takeout orders and dining out to once or twice a month. If possible, combine your order with roommates or friends to cash in on discounts or bulk orders, another frugal hack to help save you money.

Rent or Buy Used Textbooks

College textbooks can be expensive, and you’ll only use them for a limited time. When you rent or buy them at a discounted rate, you’ll save hundreds of dollars each semester, and have the option of reselling them to next year’s students, if they remain in good condition.

Some companies offer discount programs for students, including bookstores and local shops, whereas Amazon Prime offers a student discount and rental services for students needing textbooks.

Make sure you’re actually going to use any textbooks you purchase. Some classes have recommended textbooks, but all of the material is covered in lectures and class notes, with the textbook only providing supplementary information.

Attend a few classes before purchasing textbooks to see if the professor references it. There’s no sense in spending money on a textbook you won’t even crack open.

Live With Roommates to Reduce Housing Expenses

The cost of housing in many cities is high, making it difficult to afford many basic necessities. You can split rent, utilities, internet, and cable expenses by living with one or more roommates.

Online payment and pay transfer apps make the process much easier for everyone to contribute their share of the expenses, making it easier to track, compare, and budget monthly.

Cut Down on Unnecessary Expenses

Many students, and people in general, hardly use their landline phones, cable television, or other services due to the convenience of mobile devices and online access.

When you cut out or reduce unused or rarely used services, you’ll save one hundred or more dollars a month easily, which can help you improve your spending habits, free up extra cash, and more money for bills, entertainment, and savings.

Compare College Meal Plans and Student Discounts

Many colleges offer meal plans that vary in price, and ideally, you’ll want to choose the least expensive option so that it fits within your budget. It’s also important to determine how useful the meal plan is for your lifestyle and how much you’ll make use of it, which gives you an idea of how to budget for other food costs, such as dining out and groceries.

Cash in on Reward Programs and Other Incentives

As a student, you’ll find numerous discounts, incentives, and reward programs that help you save more, spend less, and sign up for services and products at a fraction of the cost:

  • Many banks and financial institutions offer low or no-fee banking account options, such as savings accounts, checking accounts, and low credit card fees.
  • The grocery stores and local shops often run promotions that offer free gift cards, limited-time discounts, coupons, and free services to increase their sales and customer base.
  • Streaming services are an ideal replacement for cable services, as they can be chosen based on the types of series, movies, and programs you prefer to watch.
  • Mobile phone companies offer reasonable data fees for students, unlimited texting, and other incentives that help you save money.

Search for Discounts on Gym Memberships

While your campus gym is likely the best option, you may want to explore other gym membership programs around your city that offer student discounts and promotional incentives. Community centers often have swimming pools, fitness centers, and sports programs that are free or low-cost to join.

Make the Most of Your Student ID

Everywhere you shop, from the local salon, pharmacy, and grocery stores, to boutiques and movie theatres, always inquire about student discounts and programs. Sometimes, showing your student ID is the easiest way to inquire about a student discount while providing proof of your status so you can cash in on big savings. Some shops don’t overtly advertise their discounts, though they can provide the details you need if you inquire.

Don’t Skip Classes

Occasionally, you might need to miss a class or two, but avoiding skipping lectures and classes is important to avoid falling behind on your studies. Missing too many days can lead to struggles with projects, assignments, and studying for midterms and final exams, which may require tutoring or assistance that can be expensive.

Just remember, you’re paying a lot in tuition costs, and making the most of your college learning experience should always be a priority.

Sell Items You Don’t Need Anymore

You’ll find plenty of online apps, websites, and marketplaces where you can sell old furniture, clothing, household items, and accessories you no longer use. There is a high demand to buy these items as the cost of living continues to rise, which can make this a profitable option for many students.

You’ll also find online apps for thrift stores and second-hand goods offer incredible deals and savings, including the option to barter with other people and earn some extra cash.

Adopt a Pet After College

Adopting a kitten or puppy from a local animal or rescue shelter might be tempting. Still, realistically, it will only be more expensive and difficult to manage on a limited budget. The cost of veterinarian bills, food, bedding, and other expenses can quickly add up.

If you’re eager to spend time with animals, you can always volunteer at a local shelter or offer a part-time dog walking or pet sitting service. That way, you’ll be paid to spend time with the animals you love.

Skip Buying Unnecessary School Supplies

One of the best frugal hacks or money saving hacks is to avoid spending money on unnecessary school supplies, such as notebooks, stationery, and accessories. You’ll likely have everything you need for notetaking on your laptop, which can be saved or backed up online, so you can access it from other devices in a pinch.

While some school supplies are inexpensive and important to have on hand, many specialty items are impulse buys for aesthetics and serve little or no purpose in supporting your college course load and notes. Many laptops are inexpensive and lightweight, which are ideal for students who study on campus, at home, or in other public areas around town.

Visit Attractions and Events for Free

Do you volunteer at a local theatre or museum or have a student ID card for student discounts? You’ll find many places that offer free or discounted admission for students year-round or for special events. It’s a great way to enjoy the local attractions of your college town or city without spending high admission fees or membership to join a club.

Some museums offer free nights or evenings, movie nights, and social events where students can meet and network. It’s worth visiting various websites and calling ahead to find out what type of promotions or events are scheduled for students in case you need to book or register in advance.

Skip Expensive Vacations and Weekend Getaways

Unless your family or friends invite you for a weekend trip and cover the cost of your travel expenses, it’s best to skip booking any vacations during the school year and the summer.

Instead, look for internship and volunteer opportunities, which may offer some travel incentives and valuable experience for your future career prospects. You may also improve your chances of becoming eligible for a scholarship, a great incentive for reducing tuition costs.


As a student, you’ll discover many great life and money saving hacks that can save you significant money during college and into your future.

Whether you sign up for discounted services, take online surveys for free gift cards, inquire about student specials, or take advantage of campus services, there are lots of free and low-cost ways to enjoy your college experience without breaking the budget or forgoing fun activities.

Categorized as Review

By Sir Chike

Sir Chike is an Imo born teacher and actor. He studied at Alvan Ikoku Federal college of Education (AIFCE) Owerri, Imo state. He has obtained the following qualifications; 1. Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) in Political Science and Social Studies. 2. Bachelor in Education (B.Ed) in Social Studies