5 Tips for Stretching Your College Budget

As a current college undergraduate, I understand what it’s like needing to stretch every dollar. Students have enough stress managing academics, social life and extracurricular activitiesnothing ruins the semester more than running out of money.

Tips to Stretch Your College Budget

I’m here to share five tips to help you manage your finances while in college so you can save for the things you love.

Get a part-time job

Many college students apply for jobs around campus to earn extra spending money. The key to finding an opportunity that really works for you as a student is to look at the extra perks, not just the hourly wage.  Are the working hours are flexible? How labor intensive will the job be? Some of my friends work in the athletic weight room or as hall monitors for various buildings. These types of jobs are great for busy college students because you get downtime from working. If you want something off campus and don’t have much time to learn a new skill, check out our article on how to make money doing things you already do.

Participate in campus research studies

You might see flyers about research studies around campus or hear professors mention them in class. Either way, they’re opportunities few people take advantage of. Participating in a study is an easy way to make $10 to $20 in less than an hour and requires no long-term commitments. From my experience, signing up is easy and some of the studies can even take less than fifteen minutes.

Even if your campus doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities to participate in paid research, take this idea and run with it. There is always easy one-off work to be found that requires minimal commitment and can help bring in a few extra bucks.

Limit How Often You Eat Out

I cannot stress this enough—maximize the bang for your buck on your meal plan. So many of my friends go out to eat during the week instead of using meal swipes at a dining hall. By the end of the semester, they’ve wasted hundreds of dollars in unused swipes.

Now I’m not saying don’t ever indulge and go out from time to time. Just use meal swipes if you have them. And if you know that you’re not going to eat on campus a lot, then adjust your meal plan accordingly. Invest in some cookware and learn to make simple meals at home so you’re not tempted to go out and spend.

Set a spending limit per week

Another great method for saving money and being more conscious about your spending habits is to set a spending limit each week (and stick to it). This way, you’ll cut out all of the extraneous items, helping you understand your needs and priorities. It’ll also help prepare you for the real world, because soon enough that money will be coming out of your own pocket, if it isn’t already.

Use cash

While the first few tips may not all apply to you, I think the best way for you to manage your finances as a college student is to use cash. Credit and debit cards can make it difficult to keep track of your spending in the moment. Cash, on the other hand, makes that easy because you’ll see your wallet getting smaller with every purchase. Obviously, more expensive purchases will probably require credit or debit cards. But how many college kids are buying pricey items? Use cash… trust me.

If you follow these tips to stretch your college budget … you’ll surely be able to spend it on some other cool things when you’re not hitting the books.

Author: Chris

Chris enjoys a good deal, a good laugh, and good company. When he has all three, life can’t get much better. He loves to watch sports, and will always be a die-hard DC fan.

10 thoughts on “5 Tips for Stretching Your College Budget

  1. AvatarDesiree

    Great tips! I stretched my budget in college by doing some online research on my course textbooks and buying them online for less!

  2. AvatarDianna Davis

    Great inside tips not only for the kiddos off to college but for everyday surivile to make it through life itself– THanks alot

  3. AvatarAmber Ludwig

    My tip: ramen noodles 😉 lol!! Seriously tho!! These are great and so true!! I would also suggest either a roommate or living at home to save money as well 🙂

  4. AvatarKaty

    These are great tips! I was so strapped for cash in college, and these were all tips I used. Using cash was huge for me and allowed me to really think about purchases before spending. Signing a reciept was just too easy and it didn’t feel like I was spending “real” money.

  5. AvatarMia

    All good tips for students especially about eating out. That can take a big bite out of a budge.

  6. AvatarJo-Ann Brightman

    These are good tips for stretching a college budget. I especially like the one about using cash.


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