DAVE RAMSEY

How to save money when you’re in college and avoid debt

May 29, 2022, 5:45 AM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

College can be a lot of things — fun, exciting, challenging, exhausting, rewarding, but “cheap” doesn’t usually make the list.

And if you’re in college right now, or you will be soon, I want you to be able to save as much money as humanly possible so you can cash flow your degree and graduate with a future that does not include making student loan payments (yes, that really is possible).

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to work a full-time job or eat ramen noodles 24/7 in order to graduate debt-free. There are plenty of simple, practical ways you can save big on college expenses.

How to save money on housing

You have to live, right? But when you’re a college student, housing can mean anything from a small apartment you share with roommates to a luxury dorm with a hot tub and a view of the city skyline. Let’s keep this budget-friendly.

Live at home if you can: OK, y’all. I get it. You’re probably ready to get out of the house and bask in your new freedom, and living at home might be the last thing you want to do. And obviously, living at home won’t be an option for everyone. But just think about not having to pay thousands of dollars per year on rent, utility bills or food. All that extra money in your bank account will be totally worth it.

Compare the costs of living on versus off campus: Renting an apartment isn’t always going to be cheaper than living on campus, and living on campus isn’t always going to be cheaper than renting. You have to look at all the options available at your school and in the surrounding area to see what’s most affordable.

Find a roommate: If you rent an apartment, having a roommate (or two or three) will cut your expenses way down. Make sure your landlord has approved each individual roommate, and that they all sign the lease so you won’t be left hanging financially if one of them moves out.

How to save money on food

Food – another one of those things you can’t live without. But you can live without daily avocado toast. You just have to be wise about your food choices.

Split food costs with roommates: You can save a ton if you go in on groceries, especially if you buy in bulk. You could even grocery shop and cook together to get some solid roommate bonding time.

Be strategic about dining out: It’s OK to go out with your friends every once in a while, but when you’re constantly getting waffles at 2 a.m. on impulse, it really starts to add up. Budget the amount of money you can spend on eating out every month.

Be smart about your meal plan: Meal plan costs can vary depending on your school––cheaper ones can be about $1,000 per semester, but some can be three times that (or more). Some colleges might make you get a meal plan for your freshman year, so if you have to have one, make sure you actually use it. But if you don’t have to have one, meal prepping and making food from scratch are your new best friends.

How to save money on tuition, supplies

This is one of the biggest and most intimidating categories for college students. But don’t stress, y’all, I got you.

Buy used books: It’s crazy how much you can save just by getting your textbooks from Amazon or a used bookstore instead of the campus bookstore. You probably won’t find all your required reading at those cheaper places, but even if you do have to use the campus bookstore, they’ll usually give you the option to rent instead of buy. Go with renting.

Take classes at a community college first: You can save a lot on tuition by getting all your general education requirements out of the way at a community college before heading to your school of choice, because the price difference is insane. A year of tuition at a private is school is, on average, more than nine times the cost of a year of tuition at a community college.

Go to an in-state school: The average tuition at a public, in-state school is $9,349 per year, and the average tuition at a public, out-of-state school is >$27,023 per year. That’s a yearly difference of more than $17,000! If it’s an out-of-state private college, the tuition skyrockets even more.

Apply for scholarships: It’s kind of a no-brainer: If you find scholarships, you won’t have to worry as much about tuition costs (and some scholarships even cover your books, food and housing). Back when I was headed to college, my family wasn’t able to help me with funds, so I treated applying for scholarships like a part-time job and it seriously paid off. I know it’s a lot of hard work, but I promise it will make a huge difference.

How to save money on transportation

Not everyone remembers to factor this into their college budget, especially if they know they’re going to be living on campus and walking a lot. But the truth is, you’ll need to get to places off campus at some point, so it’s smart to think about this stuff ahead of time.

Ride a bike: Nobody likes spending money on gas. With bikes, you don’t have to. Enough said.

Use public transportation: This could be anything from the bus system to subways to rideshare services. Depending on how often you use public transportation, you might want to buy passes instead of individual tickets – it costs more up front, but it will help you save in the long run.

Bonus money-saving tips

And because I really want you to graduate with cash in your bank account, I’m going to give you a couple extra tips.

Have a part-time job or side hustle: Don’t underestimate the effect that a few babysitting or dog-walking jobs per week can have on your savings. For a steadier income, a part-time job (no more than 15–20 hours per week) is a great idea too.

Find all the student discounts and coupons you can: We’re talking Groupon. We’re talking Yelp. We’re talking all the restaurants, museums and movie theaters in your area that give discounts to college students. Wherever you go, don’t be afraid to flash that student ID and ask if there are any deals available!

Stay away from debt: If you really want to save money and build a solid foundation for your future, don’t have debt of any kind. No student loans, no credit cards, nothing. They will only weigh you down, and keep you from hitting your financial goals.

Those are just a few of my tips for saving money in college. Remember, making the right plan for your future starts with understanding all your options!

Dave Ramsey

(Pixabay Photo)...
Rachel Cruze

If you’re still shopping for back-to-school, here are ways to save

Let’s just say back-to-school shopping will be expensive this year. These five back-to-school shopping tips can help you prioritize your spending and save money.
2 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey says: Be smart – don’t raid nest egg to pay off mortgages

Being broke, even in a house that’s paid for, isn’t a good idea. Stand down on paying off your mortgages if it means raiding your nest egg.
7 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
George Kamel

Selling your stuff online is the new garage sale

National Garage Sale Day is coming up. But we live in modern times though, and selling your unwanted stuff online can be way more profitable.
9 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey says: There’s too much risk when entering into debt to a parent

Money has a way of changing the family dynamic, and it’s almost never for the good. I would never tell you to go into debt to a parent as it might jeopardize your relationship.   
14 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey says: Help parents low on cash get financial counseling

Adult children who make good money should help parents in need, but only with the stipulation that they get financial counseling.
21 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Rachel Cruze

7 ways for you to have the best budget meeting ever

With skyrocketing prices everywhere you turn these days, it’s more important than ever to take control of your money by making and sticking to a monthly budget.
23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
How to save money when you’re in college and avoid debt