Tips for College Students to Save Money

Read our tips on buying textbooks, budgeting, dining, credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts.
College student using computer to read tips to save money

MEFA recently participated in the Education Finance Council (EFC)'s monthly Twitter chat, which provided college students with smart money-saving tips. We've include some highlights from the chat below. Pass them along to your favorite student heading to campus this fall.

On buying textbooks:   

On budgeting:

  • Find a budget tracking system that works for you, and be consistent. Use phone apps such as Pocket Budget or Mint, or use a simple Excel spreadsheet.
  • Budgets are like goals. They must first be attainable to be successful. Don't exaggerate debt or income.
  • Plan ahead for bigger expenses, such as gifts, spring break, or an upcoming concert.

On dining:

  • Use your meal plan – you've already paid for it!
  • Eat free whenever possible – including leftovers from family visits
  • Buy groceries for cheaper in bulk and split them with friends
  • Make your own coffee
  • Purchase light groceries for your dorm room

On credit cards, debit cards, and bank accounts:

  • A credit card can help build your credit, but only use it if you can pay the balance in full each month
  • Check to see what bank is on campus and open an account there for easy access to funds
  • Be aware of your debit balance before you buy – overdraft fees can be significant
  • Avoid any accounts and cards with monthly or annual fees

Do you have other tips to help college students save money? Share them with us! We're always listening on Facebook and Twitter.