To return to the forum homepage, please click the banner at the top of your browser.

Main Menu

Savings: Tips for Broke College Students (Like Me)

Started by mike_imm, November 02, 2020, 11:29:25 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


College is not cheap. Even after tuition payments, student loans, room and board and a meal plan, there are still many expenses for college students which add up over time. As a college student, despite prepaying for all of those expenses, I still always found myself spending significantly more than I budgeted for (unexpected take-out, various media subscriptions, deceivingly expensive textbook, alcohol etc.). By the end of all these expenses, I found myself virtually broke, with no money to spend on things I truly wanted at the time.
   While the easiest way to save more is to limit some of the impulsive spending I mentioned, I understand first hand as a college student that cutting impulse spending is extremely difficult. Oftentimes, when I try to actively cut out impulse purchases, I find myself giving in to a Doordash order (or equivalent) 3-4 days later. Simply put, impulse spending is something we enjoy as college students and makes us happy. Therefore, instead of trying to tell you to stop buying what you like, below are a few tips that will help you save money without cutting out the things you enjoy.

1. Buy used books and resell: Never buy brand new textbooks and never rent textbooks. Instead, buy the cheapest decent quality used textbook, keep it in good condition, and resell it once your semester ends. There are many textbook resell websites anyone can post on  (I cannot hyperlink on this page, but simply google "textbook resell websites"), or you can just resell the book to a college friend.  If you do your research, you can often make money through textbook arbitrage (reselling the textbook for more than you pay for it).

2. Get a time flexible job (Doordash/Uber): Between class, studying, and extracurriculars, it can often be very difficult to find consistent time to work during school. However, for those who do have the occasional free time, working a time flexible job like Doordash or Uber is a great way to earn a couple of bucks quick. For Doordash (or an equivalent), you do not even need a car. Just bring your old bike from home up to school (or buy a used bike for cheap) and start delivering. Colleges have some of the highest demand for food delivery, so there will be no shortage of work and it can also double as a great workout.

3. Prepay your subscriptions for a discount: Whether it is your Netflix and Xfinity accounts, or even your online class subscription, find a way to prepay your subscription annually for an additional discount. Most companies will give a significant discount (30%+) if you commit to prepay for 1 or 2 years. If your desired subscription does not have a prepay option, there are third party platforms available that will prepay annually for you (and you will receive the same discount).
4. Passively Invest: You do not need to be Warren Buffet or Ray Dalio to succeed in the market. Infact, you do not even need to know a thing about the markets, just invest in the market as a whole. Since the 1920s, the S&P has averaged an annualized return of 10%. Compare this to your savings account which grows 1-2% or less a year, and the answer is obvious. Simply open a commission free brokerage account (like Robinhood), invest in an S&P index fund (or equivalent), and increase your savings significantly.

Comment below and tips you have for saving in college.