With the rising cost of college tuition, it’s no wonder so many students are eating Ramen and searching for how to save money in college. Tuition is expensive, so expensive that according to College Raptor, the average college cost $20,770 for the 2017/2018 school year. And that was just for in-state public universities!
I remember when I was in college. I ate a lot of PB&J, and yes, Ramen Noodles. I occasionally went to restaurants that had free refills, never invested in cable, and bought only used books. And I was even on a soccer scholarship! Now, with more online discounts and financial apps available, there are more ways to save.
Check out these seven ways to save money in college, and maybe you can lay off the Ramen for a while.
Download a Budgeting Tool
When I first went to college, it was a rude awakening. I was in charge of all of my finances.
I remember feeling like a fish out of water when I penciled in my first budget on a fast food restaurant napkin. Yay, I can buy a burger, I thought.
It’s too bad that I didn’t have access to the Trim financial organizer that would have kept me sane and a lot more organized. This convenient online site and app is a beautiful budgeting tool that’s like having a virtual financial assistant in your pocket.
Trim lets you know when bills are due, how much you owe, and even gives you an alert if one of your subscriptions seems too high. For a percentage of the savings, Trim will even negotiate your subscription fees or cancel them all together.
This service would have given me more time to hit the library when I had bills flying at me like those freaky monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. Adulting is hard you know.
Invest in a Coffee Maker
In college, I was a little caffeine addict (still am), but I learned that my Grande Iced Vanilla Lattes were putting a dent in my bank account. So that’s when I decided to invest in a coffee maker from Walmart.
I think I spent less than 20 bucks on the thing, but it saved me a ton of cash. Sure it didn’t didn’t make lattes, but the amount I saved on my caffeine addiction by getting a coffee maker was so worth it.
And my dorm room smelled like Hazelnut, my favorite flavor at the time.
Stay Away from a Cable Bill: Stream Instead
In my previous post, How to Save Money for a Car Without Going Broke, I wrote about how my family recently cut the cable and now streams all of our television programs.
And cutting cable doesn’t only save money for families; it can save money for college students as well.
Traditional cable can run you upwards of $100 a month! But with a streaming service like Hulu, you can pay around $8 for a basic package. Plus you receive access to Hulu’s exclusive shows like The Handmaid’s Tale. Who knows? You might even find yourself reading the book version of this dystopian TV show in college. Win, win!
Save Money on Electronics and Make Money by Selling Them
When I went to college, it was the first time I had to buy a laptop. I know things have changed, and a lot of kids have their first tablet way earlier than I did. Heck, my 3-year-old is a pro on his bubble popping app. But back in the day, I didn’t have a use for a laptop until I went to college.
The site Swappa.com allows you to sell and buy used electronics and can save college students a fortune! Not only that, but you could also start a side hustle selling old electronics for some sweet cash.
I went through a few computers during my college days because I’ll be honest, I didn’t just use it for writing papers. I had so much dance music on that sucker that it overheated. Okay, again this was a while ago. Is Usher still around?
Still, Swappa.com can get you the equipment you need, and give you back money for the equipment you don’t.
Pay off Credit Debt and Consolidate your Loans
Did you know that 70 percent of college students take out a loan? This is surprisingly high, but college is super expensive. That’s why it might be a good idea to check up out some online loan sites such as Upstart and Payoff. Sign up quickly for a loan, consolidate payments, or take care of credit card debt.
Credit cards are dangerous in college! I remember when credit card companies would set up tables in front of the student center. They tried to lure me to sign up with free prizes and cash incentives. I now know to stay away because credit debt begins to run rampant for some people during their college years.
I think I only signed up once for the “free” umbrella that ended up costing me a couple hundred bucks in the long run. Not to mention that it caved in during a heavy rainstorm. I learned a lot in college.
But back to Payoff and Upstart. These sites can help allow you to combine all debts and work out a plan to pay them off. This ends up saving loads of interest so that you can stash some cash for the future.
Re-evaluate your Cell Phone Plan
You know where a lot of your money probably goes each month? To cell phones. Can you believe that 99.8 percent of college students have a cell phone according to a Ball State University study?
That’s right, 99.8 percent! And most of them are paying upwards of 100 bucks a month for the top data service plan.
When I was in college, smartphones were not a thing. I had this old Niko phone with a lighting themed faceplate on it. What don’t you remember faceplates? That phone was also as thick as a peanut butter sandwich.
You may think I sound very, very old, but I graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2005, so I’m not ancient. But since then, a lot has changed with electronics. Now college students don’t want to just talk to people and play Snake (an old cell phone game with square graphics).
Still, why not reevaluate your phone plan and consider Twigby? For very basic plans, you can just pay around $9 a month! Okay, so you might not be able to play as much Angry Birds as you’d like, but you could gain back some more time to study. And if you want to fork up a little more cash for a more inclusive plan, but still save, you can keep your Angry Birds.
Not only will Twigby slash your bills, but it might also give you back a lot more time to make those A’s.
Want another option? I love Straight Talk from Walmart. You can get iPhones, the latest Galaxy, etc. And you don’t have to commit to a contract.
I always had more than enough data and minutes for $45 a month. That’s a pretty sweet deal, and again, you can still play your Angry Birds.
Get a Side Gig
I recently wrote a post about 6 Side Jobs for Teachers that Reel in the Cash which you can read here. A lot of these gigs extend to college students too. Here are a few.
Are you good at writing? Then consider iWriter, a freelance writing site where you can earn cash for your hard work.
It’s the opposite of writing essays for college when you’re technically paying the university to write. Instead, iWriter pays you for your excellent ideas.
Also, check out Fiverr where you can offer your talents, from technology, writing, editing, art, etc.
There are even a bunch of people on Fiverr who will do a prank for money. And college has its share of pranksters.
If you’re looking to save money in college, you’ve got options. By using one or more of the money-saving techniques above, you might be able to ditch the Ramen and upgrade to some real pasta. And that’s a good thing.