10 Money Hacks for Students

College is expensive.  Tuition, textbooks, meals out with friends – it all adds up quickly.  All these expenses combined with living on your own for the first time can be really overwhelming.  It’s okay, though- we’ve got you covered with these 10 great money-saving hacks.

  1. Ask about student discounts.  Many stores, restaurants and companies offer year-round discounts just for showing your student ID.  Chain restaurants offer deals for students; for example, Chipotle and Chick-fil-A give you a free small drink and Subway offers a 10% discount.  Movie theaters often offer special tickets or discounts for students and many clothing stores give students 10-20% off their purchase automatically.  Plus, take advantage of 6 months of free Amazon Prime with your .edu email address. Often times these discounts aren’t publicized so get in the habit of asking at checkout; even if they don’t have a student-specific discount, they may have other promotions that you can take advantage of.
  2. Don’t buy textbooks from the school bookstore.  Campus bookstores are notorious for overcharging students for textbooks then buying them back for pennies on the dollar.  One solution is to avoid the bookstore all together.  Buy books from older students, or consider renting.

    Source: smarterservices.com

    Source: smarterservices.com

  3. Learn to cook.  Not only can it become unhealthy, eating out is expensive.  Especially if you have a kitchen available, making some of your own food can save you tons of money. Plus it’s a valuable life skill.  If you live far away from a grocery store, or just don’t know where to begin when shopping for yourself, look into subscription based food delivery services like Plated and Blue Apron.  Though they can be more expensive than shopping for yourself, they eliminate excess food waste if you tend to over-shop.
  4. Make your own coffee.  Coffee is expensive! It may seem cheap because it’s only a few dollars here and there but it adds up.  Even if you’re just getting a regular coffee (typically one of the least expensive items on the menu) it adds up.  One coffee a day at $2 each totals to about $60 every month.  Larger coffees and more expensive blended beverages will add up to even more.  If you’re an avid coffee drinker, brewing your own cup o’ joe, or even just cutting back on your coffee consumption, could save you big time.

    Source: sheknows.com

    Source: sheknows.com

  5. Set a budget and stick to it.  Part of setting a budget means really understanding what you’re spending money on.  Track your expenses and go through them at the end of every month.  This way you can determine where all your money is really , going because, seriously, the little things do add up.  Make sure the budget you set for yourself is strict but achievable; don’t force yourself to survive solely on ramen but also building that $4 fro-yo into your daily expenses could be a bit extravagant.
  6. Utilize money-management apps.  There are a plethora of apps out there that are designed exclusively to help manage your finances.  Try out Venmo as a quick way to pay back your friends; it’s an absolute lifesaver for splitting dinner tabs or cab rides.  Both Toshl and Mint are great for tracking expenses and making sure you stay on budget.  PayPal, and other services that streamline online shopping, are useful; but beware, apps like this can make budgeting yourself more difficult because it doesn’t really feel like you’re spending money!
  7. Establish good credit.  Pay all of your bills on time.  Not only is this a good habit to develop, but it can help you build a good credit rating if you do choose to have a credit card.  However, if you’re the type that has difficulty controlling your spending, it might be advisable to steer clear of a credit card for as long as possible so you can stay out of debt.

    Source: Parker Brothers

    Source: Parker Brothers

  8. Take advantage of campus activities.  Most colleges offer tons of free or discounted events.  Flip through your campus’ newspaper or peruse its website to get the lowdown on special events, student outings, and on campus performances.
  9. Participate in your school’s psychological studies and behavioral labs.  Psychology departments often utilize (and pay) students to participate in studies.  If you’ve heard of the famed Stanford Prison Experiment you may be a bit reluctant, but in reality the majority of these experiments are only an hour or so long and not nearly as involved.  Not only is participating in experiments interesting, it’s a great way to earn some extra cash between classes.
  10. Start looking for an on campus job early.  Most colleges hire students (especially those eligible for work-study) to work at various on campus jobs, such as manning information desks or assisting in libraries.  Not only are these jobs relatively easy, they’re conveniently located on-campus to your commute is minimal.  However, these jobs can fill up so start looking early: research and apply as soon as you can so you don’t miss out on an opportunity to make a bit of easy money.


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