12 Ways to Avoid Becoming a Broke College Student


Higher education is not cheap. How can you stay on top of things without drawing out more loans than you can afford? Here are 11 simple things you can do to get and save money in college.

  1. Get a job
    School is your top priority, but it is possible to fit in a job to earn extra money. Four out of five college students work at least part-time through college. You can find businesses that are willing to work around your class schedule. You can also find on-campus positions. Southern’s student job board is updated once a week with all sorts of positions ranging from receptionist to landscaper. Take the initiative and apply for jobs that you are interested in.
  2. Budget
    Budgeting isn't a dirty word nor does it require complicated math. All it requires is honesty and self-control. As you start to create your budget, begin with essentials, like gas and toiletries, and work from there. Estimate how many dollars you need per week or month in those categories. Then, STICK TO YOUR PLAN. It may be hard if your friends eat out multiple times a week. But they have their money, and you have yours. Do not spend above your means.
  3. Walk or bike
    Even if it's from your dorm room to your class on the other side of campus, use your legs. Gas adds up.
  4. Limit restaurants
    Yes, eating out with friends is a fun, bonding experience. However, it costs money, especially if you consider transportation costs and taxes. Opt for other (free) ways to hang out, like urban exploring or hiking.
  5. Skip drinks and dessert
    On the rare occasion you do go out to eat with friends, skip out on non-essentials that add up quickly, namely, sodas, dessert, and appetizers. Water is free AND healthy. After all, you're wanting to avoid that freshman 15, right?
  6. Take care of your electronics
    Nothing takes away a massive chunk of your savings more than fixing a broken iPhone screen or having to buy a new laptop because you spilled a drink on it.
  7. Take advantage of sales
    Your college wardrobe doesn't have to be expensive. Hit up sales and markdowns for your winter clothes in the spring at the end of the winter season and vice cersa. Plus, if you're going to be around the area, Tennessee offers a tax-free weekend each year that allows students to purchase essentials like clothes, shoes, and electronics such as laptops for school without paying tax! This year's tax free weekend is July 26-28.
  8. Try thrifting
    Not only is it kind to your wallet, it can also yield surprising finds. From barely-used clothes to room decor like lamps, you can prep for college just by thrifting. Don't forget online thrifting sites as well, such as eBay, Poshmark, and ThredUp.
  9. Rent or buy used textbooks
    A single brand-new textbook for a class can reach up to $100+. Southern's Campus Shop bookstore often has used or textbook rental options available. Be sure to always check there first. If you're late to get registered and inventory is low, however, use SlugBooks to compare prices of books to rent or buy from websites like Amazon, Chegg, and Valorebooks.
  10. Use student discounts
    A variety of businesses offer exclusive discounts for students. If unsure, ask. Here’s a list of stores that offer educational discounts you can take advantage of.
  11. Rethink subscriptions
    Subscribing to tv and music streaming services can quickly add up. Consider cancelling or looking for subscriptions with a student discount, such as Spotify Premium for Students with Hulu and Showtime subscriptions included.
  12. Skip non-essentials
    Yep, we're talking about those $6 Starbucks drinks and pedicures you don't really need. Look at your bank statement and see what things you're blowing your money on that are taking a chunk out of your bank account. Can you do without?

What other ways are you saving money?

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Shaina Rantung Story by Shaina Rantung Published: Last Edited:

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