Money Saving Tips for Returning College Students

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By: Alyssa Cole


Statistics on Collegeboard tell us that the average college student at a public or private 4-year institution spends between $3,990 and $4,520 per school year on books, supplies, transportation, and other expenses. As a population, college students spend around 60 billion dollars annually.

If you’re a college student who wants to save money, but you don’t know where to start, we have put together a list of some suggested money-saving tips to help you out this school year.

Create a weekly or monthly budget using free or low cost budgeting or finance apps like Mint, Pocket Guard, or Personal Capital. Open a checking account and a savings account with a local credit union if you do not already have one. And look into savings accounts that accrue interest over time.

  1. Credit cards can be useful for emergencies but can cause issues if used all the time. Do your research to find a low interest rate credit card, and use it for emergencies only.
  2. When it comes to textbooks, try asking your friends and peers if they have the book you need, and borrow it or buy it from them. If you can’t find it that way, then look at purchasing or renting a used book from a used bookstore or website. Some examples are Bookfinder (which finds new and used textbook prices and allows you to compare over 100,000 sellers to find the lowest price while also offering a textbook buyback program.) Half Price Books their online store allows you to search new and used textbook prices and helps you find one that will work for you).
  3. Shop at stores that offer discounts or have deals for college students, and use coupons when you go shopping. Coupons can be found in store apps, through rewards programs, or on savings rebate apps like ibotta, HEB, CVS Pharmacy, and Dollar General.
  4. Instead of driving to or around campus, try walking, riding a bike, or taking public transportation. This will save money on both gas and parking.
  5. To earn extra money, try speaking to your campus career services center about on campus work-study jobs, or find another local flexible job. This will allow you to gain valuable job skills that you can use after college. Looking for a part-time job to help make ends meet while balancing your coursework? Check out our blog on five great reasons college students should work at a credit union.
  6. Instead of spending money on entertainment, save it by participating in free campus or student activities.
  7. Shop for clothing during seasonal sales, or shop at your local resale store like Goodwill.
  8. When it comes to printers, if you don’t absolutely need to have one, save money on ink and paper by printing at the campus library. On laptops and computers, watch for sales and check out different companies that offer student discounts. Get discount software through Apple’s Education Store or Microsoft’s Discount for Students.