Hope for your financial life and beyond

Saving Money Throughout College

Enjoy this guest post today from my blogging friend Glen at www.howtosavemoney.guru.

glasses and highlighter resting on bookAs Brian has been talking all things college lately, I thought I would chime in with my own take on how college students can save money.

Avoid borrowing more money than you need

When I was first told that people in the US borrow money to go and live on campus (essentially borrowing to pay rent), I actually couldn’t believe it. Not only that, but my friend (who is from the US) told me that it is common place for students to do this.

I live in Australia, and while there certainly isn’t as many colleges to choose from as there are in the USA, the idea of getting a loan to pay for accommodation close to college just wasn’t an option.

Instead, I decided that I would attend a local college and utilize the public transport system to get to and from my classes. I had to plan my journey to fit within the transport timetable, but I also saved so much money.

The one thing that I do really like about the US system that isn’t available in Australia, is that there are so many loan types to choose from if you do end up needing financial assistance. Whether it be federal loans, private bank loans, peer to peer loans, state loans or even school loans, there is an abundance of choice for students. The only difficult bit would be selecting which option to go with.

Buy used textbooks

I personally found that one of the best ways to save money at college was to stop buying brand new textbooks wherever possible, and start buying secondhand ones. I did this for almost all of my classes and I found that in many cases I was saving over 50% of the cost of buying a book brand new. As I’m sure you’re aware – books aren’t cheap! Some textbooks can cost hundreds of dollars, so it is worthwhile seriously looking into secondhand books as a way to save some cash.

Make money in your spare time & network

When I was studying full-time, I found that if I could arrange my schedule so that most of my classes were lumped together, I ended up having a few days of time up my sleeve. I used some of this time going to a part time job at a local fresh produce department of a supermarket.

Having that extra money helped me to not only save money for when I was finished college, but it also meant that I was better able to network with others outside of classes, as I had more disposable income available to me. It might seem a bit odd to go and spend money socializing, but some of the connections you make at college can have a big impact on your ability to get a job when you want to enter the workforce. The way I saw it, the money was well spent, and to date, it has held me in good stead.

If you are interested in finding work, Brian recently posted 20 flexible part time jobs for college students, which I found to have some really great ideas that pretty much anyone can do regardless of if you are on or off campus.

If you do land a part time or casual job, be sure to carefully consider how much time you can afford away from your studies without your grades slipping. Money is good to have, but it really must be balanced with your study commitments.

Author Bio: Glen owns and operates the website www.howtosavemoney.guru, a personal finance website designed to help people save money wherever possible.

Editors Note and Questions: I can’t emphasize enough the importance of networking. Many times finding that perfect job goes back to the old adage, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” Take time to connect with people and build those relationships. They will pay off in the end.

What’s your best money saving tip for college students? Did you borrow money for school? How have you seen networking prove fruitful in your own life?

Next Post: Give Up to Go Up: Spending Money For Personal Growth

Prior Post: The Ups and Downs of My First Month as a Stay at Home Dad

I hope you enjoyed that post. Want more?
Sign up to receive my blog posts via email and get your free gift...
99 Ways to Spend Less and Save More

Privacy Guarantee: I will not share your email with anyone.


  1. I can completely relate to the first point. I borrowed more than what I needed. And now I am paying it back plus more.

  2. Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income says

    I graduated without one cent of debt and it changed my life. When you can start investing at 22 instead of later on after paying off loans it makes a huge difference. I lived close to college and biked every day. I worked full-time. I knew someone in the bookstore who would give me a heads up so I could get used text books before other students returned to campus. I went to school all year round (which was cheaper and smaller classes) in summer and winter. It was hard but after finishing 4 years of school in just over 2 years and having no debt, I have zero regrets because it set me up for life!

  3. I was an RA for one year. It was a ton of work but the free housing was totally worth it but by the end of year one, I was burned out. Managing a floor of 60+ freshman college girls is NOT easy : )

  4. The tip about making money in your spare time is a smart one, Glen. By using up that spare time to make cash, you are helping to ensure you won’t spend that time spending money you don’t need to spend.

  5. These are good tips. I didn’t take out student loans until my last year of college, and then only took out enough for tuition. The rest of my expenses were paid for by myself with the job I held during college.

  6. One of the biggest mistakes I see young people make with college, is borrowing more money than they truly need. Don’t use student loan money to fund Spring Break or rounds of beer. It may seem awesome in the moment, but when you’re paying down debt for years, you’ll regret it. And this is also where parents need to step in because most kids at this moment won’t feel this way and we need to set some ground rules and make some tough decisions on their behalf. Networking is definitely important, especially today. With a tight job market, knowing who can get you in the door is huge.

  7. I was really lucky I had my college paid for, but I think becoming something like an RA or teacher’s assistant to help make a little income is always useful. I think there are more ways now to earn some money as a college student then there was when I went to school and computers were practically just being invented. Yeah, I dated myself. 🙂

  8. I really like the first one. I borrowed more than I needed because I was just a naive little boy. I’m regretting that decision now.

  9. Avoiding boring more than you need is SO important. I borrowed so much more than I “needed”. Need, being relative. I could’ve lived with roommates, lived in campus housing, and spent much less in general on misc items.

  10. While I recommend having work experience in college, pick jobs in college based on what’ll be best for your career rather than what’ll get you the best beer money, though sometimes a job will fit both criteria. Think high ROI on your time:
    * Apply for scholarships. You can probably score at least 1 $500 scholarship with 10 hours of work which means $50/hour, not bad!
    * Get good resume-building jobs which will increase your future earning potential
    * Learn a money-making skill, e.g. coding is in demand right now
    * Build up a professional network. Sometimes this means chatting up your professors, and other times it means going to a kegger with some lifelong friends. These’ll be the people who’ll likely link you to your first or second job.

    It’s easy in college to think, I have a lot of time, so I can sell that time cheaply. Avoid this! Use that time wisely to build the foundation from which to grow.

  11. All good tips!

    Other than Freshman year, I had a job all throughout college. It wasn’t always easy. Senior year I worked nearly 40 hours a week on top of a full class schedule. But it allowed me to get out of college debt free along with having a little savings.

    The only way this was possible was by having an On-Campus job. If I needed to commute, I never would have been able to make it work. I was also lucky in that my hours were very flexible, which made it easier to slot work around class and study requirements.

  12. Thanks so much for allowing me to contribute to your site Brian 🙂

Speak Your Mind